Swanage Railway volunteers are celebrating the 35th anniversary of their first passenger trains – an industrial diesel shunter and half-painted coach running on a few hundred yards of hand-laid track back in 1979 – with a special weekend starring the remarkable steam locomotive ‘Tornado’.
A commemorative ‘Swanage 35’ gala is being held on 12 and 13 July to mark the birth of a train service that now carries more than 210,000 passengers a year from Swanage to Herston Halt, Harman’s Cross, Corfe Castle and Norden Park & Ride.
The public will have their first chance to travel on service trains during the special gala behind No 60163 ‘Tornado’, a Peppercorn class A1 Pacific steam locomotive built from scratch thanks to an ambitious and against all odds 18-year project.
A chance for people to celebrate 35 years of preserved heritage trains on the Swanage Railway – which has been rebuilt from nothing since 1976 – the special two-day event will see the Purbeck line’s home fleet of steam and diesel locomotives in operation, together with a diesel multiple unit.
The ‘Swanage 35’ gala weekend will also be the last chance to ride behind mid-1940s rebuilt West Country Class Bulleid Pacific No 34028 ‘Eddystone’ before its ten-year boiler certificate expires.
Swanage Railway Trust Chairman Gavin Johns says: “The old proverb ‘Great oaks from little acorns grow’ fits the Swanage Railway well. Our volunteers have nurtured over 35 years their initial dream, into the railway that we can see and experience today. The Trust is immensely proud and deeply grateful for everyone’s contribution towards achieving this milestone.
“There is more work to be done in the future, but the ‘Swanage 35’ gala weekend is special and an opportunity to say thank you for work well done. Let’s also reflect, on behalf of those who sadly are no longer with us, how they too have contributed and would have appreciated this achievement after 35 years.”