• Andrew P.M. Wright

Convoy of heritage locomotives arrives for first 'Diesel Gala and Beer Festival' since 2019


A convoy of four classic 1960s main line heritage diesel locomotives - from across the country - has arrived on the Swanage Railway to star in the heritage line’s eagerly awaited first Diesel Gala and Beer Festival since 2019.


Featuring an intensive three-train service, and now in its fifteenth year, the Diesel Gala and Dorset Beer Festival takes place from Friday to Sunday, 6 to 8 May, 2022, inclusive, with the beer festival being organised and operated by Purbeck Kitchens at Corfe Castle station.


The event includes a narrow gauge 1956 Ruston and Hornsby 48DL industrial diesel locomotive No. 283871 that will be operating demonstration ball clay trains at the Purbeck Mineral and Mining Museum’s two feet gauge line, next to Norden station, between 11am and 4.30pm from the Friday to the Sunday, inclusive.


And at 12 noon on Friday, 6 May, 2022, the newly restored narrow gauge locomotive – that has taken three years work costing £12,000 – will be officially welcomed into service with a ceremonial ribbon being cut by a principal donor to the restoration project.


The convoy of main line heritage diesel locomotives arrived by rail at Swanage on the evening of Tuesday, 3 May, 2022, after a two-day journey that started on the North York Moors Railway in Yorkshire.


Another heritage diesel locomotive is expected to arrive by rail at Swanage on Thursday, 5 May, 2022, while another arrived last week.


Eight heritage diesel locomotives – that help to tell the fascinating story of Britain’s railways during the transition from steam to diesel trains in the 1960s – are to feature in the Diesel Gala and Beer Festival last staged in 2019 before the coronavirus pandemic.


From the Friday to the Sunday, inclusive, the diesel trains will be operating along the entire length of the nine-mile Swanage Railway – past Norden station and beyond Furzebrook to the River Frome within sight of Wareham and half a mile short of the London to Weymouth main line.


On Thursday, 5 May, 2022, there will be a special ‘Thirty Seven Thursday’ preview event with a day of diesel and steam trains between Norden, Corfe Castle and Swanage featuring Class 37 diesel locomotive No. 37 703.

This year’s Diesel Gala and Dorset Beer Festival features evening ‘Beerex’ diesel trains on the Friday and the Saturday – Class 46 No. D182 performing the honours on the Friday and Class 50 No. 50 026 ‘Indomitable’ on the Saturday.


Subject to availability, the visiting diesel locomotives will be:

  • Class 25 No. D7612 (British Rail No. 25 262) courtesy of South Devon Diesel Traction.

  • Class 31 No. 31 128 courtesy of Nemesis Rail.

  • Class 37 No. 37 703 courtesy of the Harry Needle Railroad Company.

  • Class 44 No. D4 ‘Great Gable’ (British Rail No. 44 004) courtesy of the Peak Locomotive Company.

  • Class 46 No. D182 (British Rail No. 46 045) courtesy of the Peak Locomotive Company.

  • Class 50 No. 50 026 ‘Indomitable’ courtesy of PTG Tours.

Also appearing that this year’s diesel gala event will be two ex-British Railways Class 33 heritage diesel locomotives that are based on the Swanage Railway – No. D6515 (British Rail number 33 012) ‘Lt Jenny Lewis RN’ and No. 33 111.


One of the locomotives appearing, Class 33 diesel-electric locomotive No. D6515, hauled the last train through Broadstone to Wimborne when it cleared Wimborne’s station yard of wagons after British Rail closed the line to freight trains in May, 1977. Class 33 No. 33 111 hauled the last 4TC push-pull carriage set to Corfe Castle and Swanage on a Poole Grammar School railway society chartered enthusiasts’ train in September, 1971.Admission to the beer festival at Corfe Castle station will be free with a token system in operation for the purchase of drinks.


Full details of the Diesel Gala and Dorset Beer Festival, including timetables and fares, are available from the Swanage Railway’s website at www.swanagerailway.co.uk. Reduced price fares apply if tickets are purchased on-line in advance of the event.


The Swanage Railway welcomes new volunteers who 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.