SEmG

Swanage

Swanage Standard 4 tank 80011 has just arrived with its train at Swanage on 24th March 1966. Note the name "Swanage" laid out in stone on the low embankment opposite the platform.

photograph by Ray Soper

 
The branch line to Swanage from the LSWR main line at Worgret Junction opened on the 2nd May 1885 with the first passenger service being on the 20th May. Both the station building and overall site were initially smaller than what they became at their peak. The original station building, built of local Purbeck stone, and which still exists, was basically the Station Master's cottage with a small canopy on the platform. A run-round loop to the main platform road was not provided until November 1897 and the goods yard was expanded in 1899 by acquisition of the former Panton's Brewery site.

Given the extent to which the station site grew it has only ever had an incredibly compact engine shed and originally a 50ft turntable nestled alongside the local graveyard. The original stone arch to the engine shed from the turntable was demolished when a M7 one day overran the turntable and it was replaced by a simple lintel arrangement.

 
The station frontage from the forecourt. This faded photograph taken in spring 1983 illustrates a camera angle which is difficult to get now that the surroundings have been developed. It has also been included for the "period" automobiles!

photograph by Colin Duff

Swanage
 
The station was rebuilt in 1938 adding a long low stone building to the town side of the original. A gable was provided to the forecourt side of the new booking hall to provide additional natural light within. A long glass and metal canopy was constructed along the platform, but otherwise there was use of SR precast concrete structures.

Long associated with push-pull services at peak times the branch was also served by through coaches attached to the local and also by through trains. Larger than the usual engines on the branch could be turned on the turntable - just - and sidings in the goods yard were pressed into service for coach storage. When the M7s were withdrawn they were replaced by BR Standard tank engines and tanks of LMS origin - ironically then working the branch in a less efficient manner having to run round at each end.

 
Swanage The local Purbeck stone built Station Master's cottage, an original part of the station, pictured on 16th September 2000.

photograph by Colin Duff

 
The matching 1938 single storey addition showing the gable window above the booking hall. This part of the station is now the Wilts and Dorset bus station.

photograph by Colin Duff

Swanage
 
Swanage The goods shed pictured in spring 1983. It now serves as the Swanage Railway's carriage and wagon restoration works.

photograph by Colin Duff

By 1967 the engine shed was derelict and in 1968 the site was reduced to a "basic" railway operation with only a single track into the main platform face. Services were worked by DEMU until the branch was closed on 3rd January 1972 - the last passenger service being on New Year's Day. Thereafter the town was served by a bus service connecting with trains at Wareham. As the station site was redeveloped only the stone buildings were left standing - even the platform end was demolished. The forecourt and station buildings became a bus station, a fire station and supermarket were built over the goods yard.

However the Swanage branch has refused to die. The line was retained between Worgret Junction and Furzebrook for industrial use. Then in 1975 determined volunteers forming the Swanage Railway Project obtained a licence for use of the station buildings and for restoring track as far as the Northbrook road bridge. The preserved Swanage Railway was born. By 1980 very short shuttle services using an industrial steam shunter had begun. The run round loop was re-laid in 1982 and services to a new halt at Herston began in 1986. The three mile journey to a new park and ride station at Harman's Cross became possible from 4 March 1989. Passenger trains to Corfe Castle and a new park and ride station at Norden began on 12th August 1995. Today the Swanage Railway tracks are once again joined to the national rail network at Furzebrook, although not yet available for regular traffic, and there are now more stations on the branch than when in LSWR, SR or BR ownership. There are long term plans supported by the local authorities to restore rail services between Wareham and Swanage to relieve the local roads which can become very congested in summer.


 
In this picture from spring 1983 the run round loop is being relaid. The glass and steel canopy gives the platform a very light and airy feel.

photograph by Colin Duff

Swanage
 
Swanage The engine shed on its cramped site next to the graveyard. Battle of Britain class 257 Squadron is being prepared for service the the next day - Battle of Britain Day 2000. The turntable is too small to turn a Bulleid pacific with its tender attached so before one may be turned they have to be split apart.

photograph by Colin Duff

 
A view of the engine shed not often pictured, the end still containing the original arch and doors!

photograph by Colin Duff

Swanage
 
Swanage Recalling (with a few non authentic recent additions) the scene on a busy summer Saturday? The Swanage Railway on the afternoon of Saturday, 16th September 2000. No - that is not a Mike's Models water tank on the end of the platform!

photograph by Colin Duff

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This page was last updated 19 February 2003

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