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  • Andrew P.M. Wright

Nostalgic 'Roads to Rail Steam Rally' to take place next to Norden station near Corfe Castle


Photograph: Andrew P.M. Wright

Dedicated Swanage Railway volunteers are to stage a nostalgic fund-raising 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 50 traction and miniature engines, steam rollers and showman’s engines – as well as fairground rides, trade stalls, food stalls, bar and live music – the evocative three-day yesteryear Roads to Rail gathering takes place between Friday, 23 June, and Sunday, 25 June, 2023, 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 service on the Friday and Saturday evenings.

Camping pitches, which must be pre-booked via a special ‘Roads to Rail’ website at swanagerailwayroadstorail.co.uk, will also be available during the event in a field close to Norden station while there will be live music on the Friday and Saturday evenings.

Now in its third year, the popular Roads to Rail event was first staged in August, 2021.

Volunteer Swanage Railway Company chairman Trevor Parsons said: “We’re very proud to be hosting our third Roads to Rail which combines the nostalgia of steam rail travel with steam powered traction engines, steam rollers and vintage fairground rides.

“Going from strength to strength against the backdrop of the ruins of Corfe Castle, this is an evocative festival of steam large and small for all of those who love vintage steam-powered vehicles on the road or on the rails.

“Last year’s event was incredibly successful and this year the show ground will be larger with more traction engines and trade stalls as well as a bar and beer tents, food stalls and live music on the Friday and Saturday evenings.

“With people attending the event also having the rare opportunity to go on the footplate of one of our steam locomotives, Roads to Rail is a great day out for all the family and we hope that it will again draw in the crowds.

“Special events such as our Roads to Rail three-day event are critical for helping to fund the continued operation and development of the Swanage Railway as well as drawing visitors to the wonderful Isle of Purbeck ahead of the main summer season.

“The Roads to Rail event takes a lot of dedicated planning and organising from our staff and volunteers and I would like to pay tribute to all the hard work that has been put into the event,” added Trevor who is also volunteer train guard and signalman as well as a trustee with the Swanage Railway Trust which is a registered charity.

One of the event’s dedicated organisers, Lorna Lock, said: “Our Roads to Rail steam rally is unique because there is also the opportunity to include a steam or heritage diesel train ride through the Isle of Purbeck, ride on our heritage diesel train service from Wareham on the Friday and Saturday as well as the rare chance to visit the footplate of one of our steam locomotives, next to the Roads to Rail showground, that usually hauls trains between Norden, Corfe Castle, Harman’s Cross and Swanage.

“We would like to thank our generous sponsors and advertisers for their important help staging this year’s Roads to Rail event which promises to be bigger and better than last year and takes place within sight of the dramatic ruins of Corfe Castle,” added Lorna who lives in Swanage.

The Roads to Rail event sponsors this year are Suttles Quarries, Humphries Kirk solicitors, City Cruises, Collett agricultural engineers and welding fabricators, Swanage Holiday Properties, Bridport Foundry, Stuart Models, Care Purbeck, Miles & Son estate agents and Jurassic Care.

Anyone wanting to sponsor the event, or advertise their business at the show ground should contact Lorna Lock at finance@swanagerailway.co.uk.

A combined train ride from Swanage to Norden and return – with entry to the steam rally show ground – is £22 for adults, £8.50 for children aged five to 15 and £57 for a family of two adults and three children.

Entry to the steam show ground only is £7 for adults with children under the age of 16 being free. Evening entry to the show ground from 6pm is £5 for adults with children under the age of 16 being free. Day parking at the Roads to Rail steam rally is free.

Information about the Roads to Rail steam rally can be found at swanagerailwayroadstorail.co.uk where event, ticket and entry information can be found as well as camping bookings made.

Anyone interested in finding out more about volunteering should contact the Swanage Railway volunteer recruitment and retention office on 01929 475212 or email iwanttovolunteer@swanagerailway.co.uk.

More details about volunteering opportunities can be found at swanagerailwaytrust.org/volunteering.


Story and photograph by Andrew P.M. Wright,

Swanage Railway official photographer and press officer.

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