The Swanage Railway Trust is a registered charity (number 1087318) and relies on donations and our fundraising activities in order to achieve our aims which include the preservation of the Swanage branch line and the heritage rolling stock. The Trust has a trading subsidiary, the Swanage Railway Company (SRC), that runs the trains and maintains the operational rolling stock and current facilities. Whilst any profits the SRC makes are reinvested in the Swanage Railway, the Company relies on the Trust to raise funds for significant improvements such as restoring more rolling stock, operating and extending museums, expanding maintenance facilities and so on.
The Trust is extremely grateful for all the financial support it has received over the years. This has enabled the Trust, through our volunteers, to restore the branch line to the state you see it to-day. Whilst some grants have helped progress this work, and especially the restoration of the main line connection at Wareham, we remain heavily dependent on the giving of our supporters and benefactors.
The Trust is grateful for all donations in any form. On this page we have provided details of the most common ways you can help the Trust as well as providing details of our current appeals. Whatever you can give will help ensure the future development of the Swanage Railway.
Save Your Railway!
In the last 12 months we've made some fantastic achievements as a railway. From welcoming back the Flying Scotsman last year, our Train of Lights and Winter Warm Up events, hosting "Britannia" and being the first railway to offer driver experiences, the spectacular Steam, Diesel and Road to Rail galas, through to delivering the second trial of Wareham services, the farewell visit of the HST and now the launch of the T3. On the face of it, we've had a very successful year.
Despite these events, a good summer season and a 19% increase in footfall generally, we're still below visitor numbers before the pandemic. Alongside this our costs have continued to rise, especially in coal and energy costs due to the war in Ukraine, plus unexpected expenditure such as the repairs to Bridge 11. All this combined has hit our business hard.
Both the Trust's Council of Management and the Companies Board are working hard to improve our financial position but, being a mostly seasonal business and with the winter season upon us, we need help to see us through to the beginning of our 2024 running season. Already we've initiated a voluntary redundancy process, are looking into the disposal of assets surplus to the railway, and indeed are looking at cuts elsewhere, but there's only so much that can be done in a short period without causing further detriment to the railway itself.
As a railway, we need to identify expenditure savings (or enhanced income) of approximately £350K. We recognise this will not be easy, and has and will involve a number of painful decisions. It is crystal clear that we will need a robust and deliverable plan to restructure and refinance the Company. With that in mind we will be building a new business case and plan for the Company, designed to make it more efficient and effective, attracting increasing numbers of passengers beyond the levels prior to the pandemic.
This will involve reinventing the railway into a broader and more commercial visitor experience, and we recognise this will not be achieved overnight. Therefore the Trust has launched an emergency 'Save Your Railway' appeal targeted to raise £450,000 in direct support of the Company* during these next few months whilst these changes are made.
So, we turn to you, our loyal supporters, to please donate what you can to help Save Your Railway. We're well aware of the cost-of-living crisis affecting us all, but as little as a pound can help us immensely. All proceeds will go directly to supporting the Swanage Railway Company.
* This is appeal is made by the Swanage Railway Trust (04115126), a registered charity No. 1087318. The proceeds from the appeal are intended to be used to support the general purposes of the Swanage Railway Company (01412568) but in the event that this is not possible, the Swanage Railway Trust reserves the right to use any donations made for their own charitable aims
The Swanage Railway Trust runs appeals for specific major projects that support the development of the railway. The current appeals are shown below along with links to the project pages which include a button to make an immediate or recurring online donation via PayPal (you do not need to be registered with PayPal to use this facility and they will not charge you any additional fees).
Other ways to donate
Internet banking or bank transfer:
Account: Swanage Railway Trust.
Sort code: 20-68-79.
Account number: 60539112.
Please enter the name of the appeal as the reference
Please make cheques payable to the Swanage Railway Trust and send to: Swanage Railway Trust, Station House, Swanage, Dorset, BH19 1HB.
Gift Aid: the forms linked above include provision to allow the Swanage Railway Trust to recover an additional 25p for every £1 donated by UK tax payers. The same Gift Aid scheme also applies to online donations. If you wish to make a Gift Aid declaration that applies to all donations made to the Swanage Railway Trust in the last four years plus any that are made in the future, then please complete the general Gift Aid Declaration form. Once completed, please return it to our Treasurer. The contact details are included on the form.
The Swanage Railway Trust owns, and is custodian to, one of the country's most important collections of former Southern Railway coaches. This collection represents the types of coaches that served the area and includes a number of vehicles that regularly visited the Swanage branch. We are working to restore these coaches to enable passengers to once again travel in the style of the 1930's and '40's. The button below takes you to a dedicated page and enables a donation to be made to help us with this work.
The Swanage Railway's carriage fleet - including the Trust’s 1930s Maunsell and 1940s Bulleid vintage carriages - are currently stored in open sidings when not in use. This new covered accommodation - the first built by the Swanage Railway Trust - is urgently required to protect these irreplaceable vehicles from the weather - and especially the strong sun and sea air that first attracted visitors to Swanage. In addition to better protection, the shed will help reduce the ongoing costs of the maintenance and overhaul of our carriages.
Swanage Moguls Fund
The Swanage Railway now has the largest collection of Southern Railway Maunsell Mogul historic steam locomotives in the UK. Only one - U Class 31806 - is currently in traffic and we urgently need your help to restore 'N' class, no. 31874 built in 1925, and then 'U' class No. 31625, built in 1929, to fully operational condition.
All engines will be overhauled to mainline standards to enable them to operate to and from Wareham and beyond in future.
Swanage Water Tower
The Railway recently recovered a redundant stone built LSWR water tower from near Salisbury station. A project has been drawn up to rebuild this historic structure at Swanage and install a spring water extraction system. In the long term this will save the Railway a large amount of money as we will no longer be dependent on using treated water from the mains for our steam engines. The groundwork is underway but we still need funds to complete this work.
4TC Multiple Unit
The Swanage Railway Trust owns one of the two surviving 4TC units. These were derived from the trains that defined rail travel in southern Britain for fifty years.
The 4TC is an un-powered 'push pull' unit which works with a class 33 diesel loco. This combination formed the last through trains from Swanage to London under British Rail and many of the Waterloo-Weymouth services from 1967 to 1989.
The Swanage Railway Trust has previously run the following appeals. The Trust is grateful to all those who helped with these appeals:
LSWR T3 Appeal - this appeal sought funds to return former LSWR T3 locomotive to steam after a period of seventy years. The loco is now in service on the Swanage Railway but this appeal remains open to create a reserve to provide for maintenance and contingencies. Details of the appeal can be found here.
Project Wareham - this appeal raised funds to achieve one of the Trust's founding aims: to restore a service from Swanage to the main line at Wareham. This service has now commenced a trial period of running in the summer months.
Save Our Service - an appeal to help safeguard the Swanage Railway through periods of lockdown. This appeal successfully raised over £365,000 and closed in March 2021. Further information is here.
Carriage Shed Appeal - an appeal to construct a carriage shed to help protect our heritage coaches from the weather. This appeal successfully raised over £75,000 in a short period to meet a construction deadline and closed in June 2021. Further information is here.
Appeals are critical to progress major projects. However, the Trust's general funds pay for many equally important but less news worthy activities around the railway. There are many ways to give to these funds, ranging from an immediate donation via PayPal to making a tax efficient donation in your will. Details of easiest ways to give are shown below and we are grateful for all donations however or whenever they are made.
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Give as you Live Online is a free and easy way to raise money for your favourite charity, just by shopping online.
Once you've signed up, you can browse our website for the store you want to shop with. Click 'shop & raise' to go to their website, then continue to shop as normal.
We'll then email you within 1-7 days to let you know how much you've raised. The donation amount varies from store to store. Most of the time you raise a percentage of what you spend - between 1% and 10% - whilst sometimes it's a fixed amount.
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Our fundraising partners provide many ways to help the railway. However, we are especially grateful for donations sent directly to us!
The button below enables a donation to be made immediately. The service is provided by PayPal but no registration is required, simply enter your card details and the amount. This service also allows recurring donations to be made if you wish.
Legacies and Bequests
It is often said that there are only two certainties in this life – Death and Taxes. An overworked cliché admittedly but nevertheless so very true. There is nothing we can do about either but we can make sure that when we do die, leaving a legacy in favour of the Swanage Railway Trust will ensure that the railway that we have loved and supported will benefit and furthermore, that we have played an important part to help it remain in operation and to continue providing pleasure and education for future generations.