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Swanage Railway Trust



Help us restore and maintain our collection of Southern Railway coaches so that Swanage Railway passengers can sample travel from the 1930's and '40's

Photo: Keith Harwood

Set 602 at Oxted summer 63.jpg


The Heritage Coach Project

The Swanage Railway Trust owns, and is custodian to, one of the country's most important collections of former Southern Railway coaches. These coaches, many of which ran to Swanage, form a vital part of the Trust's heritage remit. 


We are working to restore these coaches to enable passengers to once again travel in the style of the 1930's and '40's. However, there is a lot of work involved in both maintaining those coaches which have been restored, and restoring those still in storage!

The heavy engineering of restoring bogies, running gear and structural components is generally undertaken off-site. However, we are entirely dependent on volunteers to restore the interior as well as painting, work on the windows, doors etc. The friendly team meets at both weekends and during the week and is grateful for whatever time and skills you can bring. 

Restoration work uses skills familiar to anyone who has undertaken DIY tasks albeit in an unusual environment! No specialist knowledge is required and any training that is needed will be provided. Please get in touch to find out what we do and join us in helping restore these priceless vehicles.

Give us a hand!

In the first instance, please contact our volunteer coordinator using the form on the volunteering page, by phone or by email, and let them know that you are interested in the heritage coaches:

Be in the  know!

Follow the Heritage Coach Project Facebook page for more pictures and all the latest news

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Other Ways to Help

The Swanage Railway Trust's collection of coaches built for the Southern Railway are all over seventy years old and most were retired by British Railways over fifty years ago. Inevitably restoring these coaches takes considerable time and money. Whilst the most labour intensive work is undertaken by volunteers, we still need to raise significant amounts of money to enable us to continue this program.

Almost ​all of the funding for coach restoration comes from donations as the availability of grants is very limited. In addition to a small number of fundraising events during the year, almost all of our donations come from those people who want to support this project and see these irreplaceable coaches carrying passengers on the Swanage Railway. We are very grateful for any support you can provide.

Details of how to make an immediate donation to this project are in the box to the right. You can also make a through internet banking /bank transfer or by post. Details are here.


However you choose to donate, if you are a UK tax payer then the Trust can reclaim an additional 25% at no cost to you if you complete this Gift Aid form

Make a Donation

The simplest way to help with this project is to make a donation directly to the Swanage Railway Trust's Heritage Coach Appeal. This can be done using the button below.

Donations are handled via PayPal but you do not need to be registered with PayPal as donations can be made using a wide variety of cards. Donations may be either a single on-off payment or a recurring monthly amount.

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The Southern Railway was formed in 1923 by the amalgamation of a number of railway companies operating in southern England. It was quickly evident that new coaching stock was required. This led to two major coach building programs being undertaken.

Richard Maunsell was given the responsibility for the first program and, on his retirement in 1939, Oliver Bulleid became responsible for the second. Coaches from both periods are well represented on the Swanage Railway and reflect the evolution of both travel and technology at that time.


Operational Vehicles

SR Maunsell coach 1381 Swanage Saturday

Maunsell Third Open - S1381S

Built for the Southern Railway in 1930, this coach pioneered the design of 'open' coach (without compartments) that we think of as normal to-day.

This was one of the first coaches to enter service on the fledgling Swanage Railway in 1985. It was withdrawn for overhaul after about ten years. Following a long period in storage it was fully restored and re-entered service in 2019.


Bulleid Semi Open Brake Third - S4365S

Built for the Southern Railway, this coach entered service at the birth of British Railways in 1948 and operated on services to Bournemouth. It is unusual in combining brake, compartments and an open saloon.

This coach has the distinction of carrying the very first passengers on the rebuilt Swanage Railway in 1978. It was also the first coach restored under the current heritage coach project.


Bulleid Corridor Composite - S5761S

Built for the Southern Railway in 1947, this coach was also used on services to Bournemouth providing both first and third class accommodation in compartments.

On withdrawal from British Railways in 1968 this coach was purchased initially by the Longmoor Military Railway before spells at Ashford and the Mid-Hants Railway. It arrived at Swanage in 1984. It entered service in 2015 after an extensive overhaul

Current Project

083181 at Tenterden

Maunsell Third Open - S1346S

Currently undergoing restoration by the volunteer Heritage Coach team at Swanage, this coach last carried passengers almost 60 years ago and has a particularly interesting history. Once restoration is completed, it will return to regular use on the Swanage Railway.


Built for the Southern Railway in 1933, this coach is one of an additional order for open coaches based on a design introduced in 1930. An example from the original order - S1381S - is already in use on the Swanage Railway.

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