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The people behind the award winning Swanage Railway

The Swanage Railway Trust, a registered charity, exists to preserve the heritage of the railways of southern England and especially of the Isle of Purbeck in Dorset, and re-establishing a rail link between the town of Swanage and the national rail network at Wareham. The Trust focuses on furthering the development of the Swanage Railway by recruiting the members and volunteers on which progress depends as well as the appeals and fundraising needed to support the Trust's activities. 

The roots of the Swanage Railway as we know it now can be traced back to the years after the Beeching cuts of the 1960's.  Whilst the branch line from Wareham to Swanage in Dorset survived these closures, a cycle of falling traffic and progressive withdrawal of services eventually led to closure in 1972. Momentum was quickly established to try and take over the branch and press for the return of a mainline connection. Despite local and national attempts to first prevent closure and then lobby for re-opening, this was not enough to prevent much of the track being lifted.

The early days of the project saw several groups springing up with similar aims. These quickly came together and ultimately the Swanage Railway Trust was formed. The Swanage Railway as we know it to-day has been rebuilt over many years and is now one of the largest heritage railways in the UK. The Trust's trading subsidiary - the Swanage Railway Company - operates the trains and is responsible for day to day management of the Railway. Details of train times, special events and other information for the visitor can be found on the Swanage Railway Company web site.

The Swanage Railway Trust relies on three key strengths: providing a welcoming and fulfilling environment for our volunteers and members (our community), restoring and maintaining irreplaceable heritage items, and the fundraising needed to sustain our efforts. Whether you are considering joining us or just wanting to find out more, the panels below and the rest of the web site provide more details - or just get in touch!


Steam haulage ended in southern England over 50 years ago yet the Trust seeks to preserve and operate a wide range of railway equipment from that era as well as many items over 100 years old. The Trust believes that, as far as possible, this heritage is best experienced by actually seeing these trains operate as they did in their heyday and by carrying passengers.

Achieving this objective depends on volunteers bringing or learning a wide range of skills: from organizing the heritage items in our museums, restoring steam and diesel locomotives, carriages and wagons as well maintaining the buildings, track and signalling equipment.  

The Trust has many items in storage awaiting restoration so there remains plenty more to do!

Get Involved

Whether as members giving their support, or as volunteers working on the ground, people from all walks of life contribute to the community that is the Swanage Railway Trust. We simply couldn't make the progress we do without our members and volunteers.

If you are thinking about volunteering then get in touch and we can discuss what you would like to do. We have jobs for pretty much everyone, whether you want to use your existing skills or learn new ones. Whatever you decide to do, and how often you are able to do it, then we will try our utmost to make it a great experience!


Equally, if you would like to lend your support by becoming a member and keeping in touch with progress on the railway, then we are very grateful for that too.


Whilst restoring railway equipment well over 50 years old takes effort and ingenuity, it does also require money. We are lucky that we get help in many forms but ultimately our ability to continue to make progress depends largely on our fundraising

There are many ways you can help us continue and accelerate this work. The most high profile are the appeals for specific areas such as heritage coach restoration. However, there are many other projects that also need funding and our 'general fund' allows us to focus funds on those areas where help is needed most immediately.

Our 'Giving' pages outline some of the many ways you can help us - and some do not even cost you anything! We are grateful for every donation. Together they ensure that the Swanage Railway exists for future generations

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