An evocative weekend ‘Winter Warm Up’ event is to bring a mixture of steam and diesel passenger trains to the Isle of Purbeck – including a newly restored Victorian steam locomotive and the nostalgic re-creation of freight trains.
One of the heritage diesels hauling the trains will be the last locomotive to run from Poole to Broadstone and Wimborne when the line closed to freight trains in 1977.
Taking place on Saturday 6 and Sunday 7, January, 2024, the special event will see two steam locomotives in action – the newly restored Victorian London and South Western Railway T3 from the 1890s and a Bulleid Pacific from the 1940s - as well as two Class 33 main line heritage diesel locomotives from the early 1960s.
Operating to an intensive timetable – and with locomotives running subject to availability and short notice change - the heritage trains will be running between Norden, Corfe Castle, Harman’s Cross and Swanage between 9.45am and 5.10pm.
Making a rare and evocative sight, there will be a re-creation of a nostalgic freight train of wagons and box vans of the type that ran across the south of England – including the Swanage branch – in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s.
At Corfe Castle station, it is planned to have the goods shed museum open across the special weekend, along with the station’s ‘have a go’ signal box museum.
The first steam locomotive to be featured in the ‘Winter Warm Up’ event will be the newly restored Victorian London and South Western Railway T3 class steam locomotive No. 563 built in 1893 and donated to the Swanage Railway Trust by the National Railway Museum in 2017.
The second steam locomotive to be featured will be ex-Southern Railway 1940s rebuilt West Country class Bulleid Pacific No. 34028 ‘Eddystone’. Bulleid Pacifics like ‘Eddystone’ hauled trains from London to Corfe Castle and Swanage from the 1940s to the end of steam trains in southern England in the summer of 1967.
The first heritage diesel locomotive to be featured in the ‘Winter Warm Up’ will be 1960 ex-British Railways Class 33 diesel-electric No. D6515 ‘Lt Jenny Lewis RN’ which hauled London to Swanage trains during the summer of 1966.
Renumbered No. 33 012 by British Rail in the early 1970s, the locomotive was the last to run between Poole, Broadstone and Wimborne in 1977, after the last section of the former main line between Brockenhurst, Ringwood, West Moors, Wimborne, Broadstone and Poole closed to trains.
The second heritage diesel locomotive to be featured during the special weekend will be 1960 ex-British Railways Class 33 diesel-electric No. 33 111 which was the last Class 33 locomotive to haul a train composed of a 4TC ‘push-pull’ set to Swanage in September, 1971, as part of the ‘Dorset Venturer’ tour of the county.
Gavin Johns - the volunteer chairman of the Swanage Railway Company which runs the trains for the Swanage Railway Trust – said: “The ‘Winter Warm Up’ will be wonderful and nostalgic weekend celebrating the best of steam and diesel trains with the star being the Swanage Railway Trust’s newly restored Victorian T3 class London and South Western Railway steam locomotive No. 563 built in 1893.
“Freight trains, like the one we will be re-creating during our weekend ‘Winter Warm Up’ event, used to run across the south of England for decades delivering goods and farm produce.
“British Railways stopped running freight trains to Corfe Castle and Swanage in 1965, a year before steam trains were replaced by diesel trains on the Swanage branch and six years before the line was controversially closed and demolished,” added Gavin, a volunteer signalman on the heritage line that has been rebuilt from nothing since 1976.
Swanage station shop - and the station’s booking hall refreshment kiosk - will be open during the ‘Winter Warm Up’ weekend, subject to volunteer availability.
The Swanage Railway welcomes new volunteers and anyone interested in finding out more should contact the Swanage Railway volunteer recruitment and retention officer Lisa Gravett on 01929 475212 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Details about volunteering can also be found at swanagerailwaytrust.org/volunteering.
Story and photograph by Andrew P.M. Wright,
Swanage Railway official photographer and press officer.