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ALMOST 900 PASSENGERS TRAVEL ON THE TRAINS DURING SUCCESSFUL WINTER WARM UP MINI STEAM AND DIESEL GALA

Published: February 20, 2016

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

Almost 900 passengers travelled on the trains during the Swanage Railway's successful one-day Winter Warm Up mini steam and diesel gala – 51 per cent up on the previous year's event.

The one-day special event took to the rails of the Isle of Purbeck on Monday, 28 December, 2015, with 884 passengers being carried compared to the 583 passengers carried during the previous year's event.

This year's Spring Steam Gala takes place between Friday and Sunday, 8 to 10 April, 2016, with members of the Swanage Railway's home fleet of steam locomotives being put through their paces.

The guest locomotive will be First World War-built Great Western Railway 2-8-0 wheel arrangement tank locomotive No. 4247 – in British Railways unlined black livery – from the Bodmin and Wenford Railway in Cornwall.

With trains running every 40 minutes between 10am and 5.20pm, December's Winter Warm Up event saw Victorian T9 class locomotive No. 30120 put through its paces.

Belonging to the National Railway Museum based in York – and part of the National Collection – No. 30120 is the only surviving T9 locomotive in the world.

More than 70 years ago, No. 30120 was hauling a freight train from Brockenhurst to Dorchester when it was attacked at Wool station, near Wareham, by two Messerschmitt Me109 fighters during the lunchtime of Saturday, 28 November, 1942.

Also hauling the passenger and nostalgic goods trains during the Winter Warm Up event was fellow Dugald Drummond-designed London and South Western Railway locomotive M7 tank No. 30053 built at Nine Elms in London during 1905.

No. 30053 hauled passenger trains for British Railways between Wareham, Corfe Castle and Swanage – as well as between Poole, Broadstone, Wimborne, West Moors, Ringwood and Brockenhurst – from late 1963 through to May, 1964, when it was withdrawn.

Late 1920s U-class Southern Railway locomotive No. 31806 was also put through its paces, along with 1960 British Railways Southern Region 'Slim Jim' Class 33 diesel-electric locomotive No. 33 201 built for the Hastings line with bodywork seven inches narrower than other members of the successful class.

Swanage Railway General Manager Matt Green said: "I would like to say a very big thank you to everyone who worked so very hard to plan and run our Winter Warm Up event which was a great success.

"I know that our locomotive crews, guards, signalmen, travelling ticket inspectors and station staff enjoyed the day as much as the public did.

"It was very gratifying for everyone involved in the Winter Warm Up to know that almost 900 passengers travelled on the steam and diesel trains during the day – 51 per cent up on the previous year's event.

"It was also good to see the public enjoying the nostalgic delights of classic steam and diesel locomotives – including evocative freight trains from yesteryear – against the beautiful backdrop of the Purbeck countryside and the dramatic ruins of Corfe Castle.

"Our Winter Warm Up event really was the perfect way to blow away the Christmas Day and Boxing Day cobwebs – and escape the repeats on television or cold Turkey – by visiting the Isle of Purbeck for a really enjoyable and nostalgic day out.

"Visitors enjoyed watching our steam and diesel locomotives working hard on our demonstration freight train – recalling years past when the railways were the backbone of our transport network, especially during the winter," added Mr Green.

The Winter Warm Up event saw the railway shop at Swanage station open while hot drinks and snacks were available at the buffet coach on Swanage station. The goods shed museum and exhibition coach at Corfe Castle station were also open.

Swanage Railway train times – and special event details – are available online at www.swanagerailway.co.uk or by telephone on 01929 425800.