Swanage Railway Swanage Railway Swanage Railway


Published: June 11, 2016

Story and Photographs by Andrew P.M. Wright                                                                                         Swanage Railway official photographer and press officer

The public is being invited to travel back in time and board an evocative '1970s Express' live music steam train celebrating the 40th anniversary of the award-winning Swanage Railway's re-birth back in 1976.

Featured will be music from the decade that saw the Swanage Railway controversially closed, its tracks lifted for scrap before a hard-fought campaign resulted in the line being slowly but steadily re-born – with the first passenger train running over a few hundred yards of hand-laid track in 1979.

Seven-piece band 'Blind Panic' will be playing music sets from the period at Swanage, Harman's Cross and Corfe Castle stations as the special train takes a leisurely trip through the Isle of Purbeck on the summer evening of Saturday, 18 June, 2016.

With band members Lucy Wood, Mark Vass, Mike Briggs, Steve Wells and Nick King – together with special guests Tanya Watts and Lisa Briggs – dressed in 1970s outfits for the special evening of music from yesteryear, the public is being invited to come along in their own clothing from 40 years ago.

And a £100 Swanage Railway Gift Card will be the prize awarded to the best couple attending the event in 1970s period dress, as judged by 'Blind Panic'.

It was in February, 1976, that a small band of railway enthusiasts gained access to a boarded-up Swanage station to start re-building the Swanage Railway from scratch – a job that would take some 40 years.

Looking back, February, 1976, was the month that 'Forever and Ever' by Slik and 'December '63 ('Oh What a Night') by the Four Seasons were number one hits in the United Kingdom pop charts.

And when the Swanage Railway's first steam locomotive arrived at the reborn Swanage station in September, 1976, Abba's 'Dancing Queen' was top of the pops – and would be for a remarkable six weeks.

With a thirst-quenching bar service on board, the special 1970s-themed music train departs Swanage station at 7.30pm and returns to the seaside town, where the Swanage Railway was born 40 years ago, around 10.30pm.

Popular hits to be played during the evening will include music from super-band Abba as well as music from the hit 1970s film 'Grease'. Passengers can only board the special music train at Swanage station from 7.10pm where they will be greeted by 'Blind Panic' playing 1970s hits.

The special fund-raising event is being staged by a dedicated group of Swanage Railway volunteers which maintains and develops Harman's Cross station, a facility that has been built from scratch since 1988.

Swanage Railway General Manager Matt Green said: "It's going to be a very evocative and enjoyable event – and a very special one featuring hit music from 1970s that was the background to the decline, death and the remarkable re-birth of the Swanage Railway against all the odds.

"It's not only a chance for people to come along and re-live the memorable music of the 1970s but also an opportunity for younger people to experience and enjoy the music from some 40 years ago for the first time.

"This is the fourth live music train to be staged by the Swanage Railway and I'd like to thank the dedicated team of volunteers that has organised the event for their hard work, dedication and attention to detail," added Mr Green.

'Seventies Express' music train organiser Bob Bunyar explained: "It will be marvellous to hear and dance to the music that was at the top of the charts when the fledgling Swanage Railway was campaigning – and succeeding – to win a toe-hold at the disused Swanage station." 

Tickets are £14.50 for adults, £7.50 for children aged five to 15 inclusive. There are no concessions or discounts.

'Seventies Express' music train tickets are available in advance on-line at www.swanagerailway.co.uk – or by calling the Swanage Railway's reservations department on 01929 425800. Seating is not reservable.