• Andrew P.M. Wright

August bank holiday weekend ‘Roads to Rail’ mini steam rally to take place near Corfe Castle



Dedicated Swanage Railway volunteers are to stage a nostalgic fund-raising mini steam rally in a field next to Norden station near the village of Corfe Castle – bringing the Isle of Purbeck to life with evocative re-creations of a bygone age.


Featuring up to 20 traction engines, steam rollers and showman’s engines – as well as fairground rides, trade stalls, food stalls, bar and live music – the evocative four-day yesteryear ‘Roads to Rail’ gathering takes place during the August Bank Holiday, from Friday to Monday, 27 to 30 August, 2021, inclusive.


A special intensive steam train service between Norden, Corfe Castle and Swanage will be operating during the event – including a special evening heritage diesel railbus service on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings.


Camping pitches, which must be pre-booked via a special ‘Roads to Rail’ event page on the Swanage Railway website, will also be available during the event in a field close to Norden station.


With the ‘Roads to Rail’ event starting on the Friday afternoon and ending on the Monday afternoon, there will be live music on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings.


One of event organisers, long-time Swanage Railway volunteer Nick Lloyd, explained: “It’s the first time that the public will have the chance to explore and enjoy steam on road and rail together on the Swanage Railway in an event that everyone involved in it is looking forward very much to staging.


“It’s a chance for the public to step back in time for a long weekend of steam-powered demonstration and vintage fairground fun. Featuring traction engines, steam rollers, showman’s engines and more, our ‘Roads to Rail’ steam rally will be bringing the Isle of Purbeck to life with evocative re-creations of a bygone steam age.


“Taking place in the field opposite Norden station, the event is ideally located close to the historic village of Corfe Castle as well as next to the Swanage Railway and the access road to Dorset Council’s Purbeck Park long-stay car park for Norden station.


“Our nostalgic and evocative ‘Roads to Rail’ event, next to Norden station, will be on a small scale with an intimate and friendly family feel to it – perfect for both enthusiasts and the general public.


“A lot of detailed planning work has gone into the special event which is the first special event to be staged by the Swanage Railway since 2019 before the Coronavirus pandemic,” added Nick who is a driver on the heritage line.


The ‘Roads to Rail’ steam rally is being sponsored by O.J. Fabrications, Swanage Holiday Properties, Travis Perkins, Miles and Sons as well as Andrews Plant Hire.


Swanage Railway passenger services director Trevor Parsons said: “Our ‘Roads to Rail’ event is a first for the Swanage Railway and an ideal opportunity for the whole family to enjoy a super steam-filled day out.


“Visitors to our mini steam rally are welcome to attend in Victorian, Edwardian and pre-Second World War period dress – whether that’s in a showman’s outfit or a steam train driver’s ‘bib and brace’ – to delight in and soak up the period atmosphere during the long weekend.


“Any Government regulations in force will be followed to ensure that everyone can safely enjoy what is set to be a memorable and evocative August Bank Holiday event for all ages and interests – both enthusiast and the public,” added Trevor who is also a volunteer train guard and signalman on the heritage line.


Ticketing


A combined train ride from Swanage to Norden and return – with entry to the steam rally showground – is £20 for adults, £8.50 for children aged five to 15 and £53 for a family of two adults and three children.


Entry to the steam showground only is £5 for adults with children under the age of 16 being free.


Evening entry to the showground from 6pm is £5 for adults with children under the age of 16 being free.


Day parking at the steam rally is £3.50 per car.


The postcode for the ‘Roads to Rail’ event location, opposite Norden station, is BH20 5DW.


Information about the ‘Roads to Rail’ event can be found at swanagerailway.co.uk/roadstorail where camping bookings can also be made.

The Swanage Railway welcomes new volunteers and anyone interested in finding out more should contact Swanage Railway volunteer recruitment and retention officer Jonathan Evans on 01929 408466 or email iwanttovolunteer@swanagerailway.co.uk.


Story and photograph by Andrew P.M. Wright,

Swanage Railway official photographer and press officer.