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Riding the Swanage Steam Railway, Dorset

Swanage train at Corfe by Barbara Ballard The Swanage Railway is a standard gauge preserved steam railway transporting passengers over six miles between Swanage and Norden. They operate daily from April to October and the rest of the year on weekends and bank holidays. There are dining trains on some summer evenings. The coaches are not refurbished.

Swanage railway station by Barbara Ballard Swanageís railway first began operation in 1885 after much resistance from the people of Wareham who didnít want a line in the centre of their town. Finally it was designed to avoid the town centre and construction went forward in 1883. The railway was closed by British Railways in 1972 and the track was lifted.

Swanage railway station by Barbara Ballard Railway buffs decided to pool their efforts to get it rebuilt in 1975 and the Swanage Railway Society took over the closed station, refurbishing it. The line first ran to Herston (on the outskirts of Swanage); then three miles were added to reach to Harmanís Cross village. By 1995 an extension reached Corfe castle and Norden. In 1998 park and ride facilities were introduced at Harmanís Cross. By 2002 the rest of the tracks were laid, and the first through train from Wareham to Swanage ran on September 8.

Volunteer worker at Corfe station by Barbara Ballard The train track from Wareham goes over the common, crosses the river Piddle, and enters a deep cutting. It then crosses the river Frome on an iron viaduct and enters the isle of Purbeck. It continues onward and reaches the first summit at Furzebrook. The line passes near Blue Pool lake, and then goes along an embankment to Norden station. After leaving the station it passes under Skew bridge and then goes over the Purbeck stone Corfe viaduct. Following on is a steep sided cutting through Challow Hill and on to Corfe village and castle station. The station was built of local stone and has been restored.

Corfe Castle rail station by Barbara Ballard After leaving Corfe the train track climbs across Corfe common and through farmland and near Woodyhide Camp Site, then arrives at Harmanís Cross station. About a half mile later the train passes into the Wilderness, then into a cutting and under the A351 and continues through meadows to the approach to Herston, terminating at Swanage station.

Swanage waterfront by Barbara Ballard A large carpark is about a 10 minute walk from the train station which is convenient to the town centre and waterfront. Visitors can also park in the National Trust carpark outside of Corfe, visit Corfe and its castle and then take the train into Swanage or vice versa. It makes for a great day out.

To find the time tables, fares, and further details and photographs visit the website Swanage Railway or Tel. 01929 425 800

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