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Published: May 1, 2015

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

A classic 1960s British Railways main line express locomotive – dating from the year of the Great Train Robbery and the killing of American President John F. Kennedy – has arrived on the Swanage Railway to make history during its annual three-day diesel gala and beer festival.

Sister locomotives of Class 35 'Hymek' No. D7076 headed trains from the midlands to Poole and Weymouth during the 1960s, as well as hauling track-lifting trains on the much-loved Somerset and Dorset main line that ran between Bournemouth, Blandford Forum, Templecombe and Bath.

Built in Manchester by Beyer Peacock in 1963 with a top speed of 90 mph and a weight of 75 tonnes, it will be the first time that a main line express 'Hymek' diesel locomotive has hauled trains on the Swanage Railway – both in preservation and during the British Railways days of the 1960s.

Now in its tenth year, the Swanage Railway Diesel Gala and Dorset Beer Festival runs from Friday, 8 May, through to Sunday, 10 May, 2015, with a 'Go West' diesel gala preview day taking place on Thursday, 7 May, 2015.

Offering 25 real ales and craft beers – as well as six craft ciders and three exclusively brewed Swanage Railway special edition beers – the beer festival takes place at Corfe Castle station where beer tickets, commemorative glasses and festival programmes are available on entry.

Re-enacting trains on the old Western Region of British Rail from the 1960s to the 1980s, the 'Go West' preview day will see 'Hymek' No. D7076, Class 45 No. 45 060 'Sherwood Forrester’ and Class 50 No. 50 035 'Ark Royal' operating alongside steam-hauled trains between Norden, Corfe Castle and Swanage.

Dedicated Swanage Railway volunteer Dan Bennett is a member of the diesel gala organising committee: "It's wonderful to see the 'Hymek' arrive on the Swanage Railway because it's such a classic locomotive that sums up so much of the English railway scene during the 1960s and early 1970s.

"The 'Hymek' diesel locomotives hauled inter-regional passenger trains from the midlands and the north down to Bournemouth, Poole and Weymouth during the 1960s and early 1970s. They also hauled passenger trains from Bristol to Weymouth via Yeovil, Maiden Newton and Dorchester.

"The 'Hymek's saddest duties were to haul heavy track-lifting trains on the old Somerset and Dorset line from Blandford Forum to Bath between 1967 and 1969 – hauling long rakes of wagons carrying metal rails, track chairs and wooden sleepers," added Dan who lives in Wareham.

The Diesel Gala will see an intensive three-train service operate between Norden Park & Ride, Corfe Castle, Harman's Cross and Swanage from 8am to 12 midnight on the Friday and Saturday and from 8am to 7pm on the Sunday.

Subject to availability, other visiting diesel locomotives will be Class 25 No. D5185, Class 37 No. 37 057, Class 45 No. 45 060 'Sherwood Forrester', Class 50 No. 50 035 'Ark Royal' and Class 56 No. 56 006, as well as a mystery Class 66 from GB Railfreight and the 1,700 horsepower 'Hymek'.

The Swanage Railway's British Rail blue Southern Region Class 33 diesel locomotives also will be appearing – No. 33 111 and No. 33 201 – will also be appearing, subject to availability.

Next to Norden station, the award-winning Purbeck Mineral and Mining Museum will be open on the Saturday and Sunday. The goods shed museum, exhibition and cinema coach at Corfe Castle station will be open throughout the gala with trade and enthusiast stands at Corfe Castle and Swanage stations.

'Beerex' and Wessex Belle 'Bistro’ dining train services will also be operating on the Friday and Saturday evenings. Advance booking for the Bistro trains is essential.

On the Friday evening, No. 37057 will be hauling the 'Beerex' train with No. 45060 working the Wessex Belle 'Bistro' while on the Saturday evening No. D5185 and No. 33 201 will haul the 'Beerex' while No. 50 035 will be working the Wessex Belle 'Bistro'.

Driver Experience courses for the public will be operating on Saturday and Sunday, 16 and 17 May, 2015, using Class 25 No. D5185 for £200 per participant with details from the Swanage Railway website.

Freedom of the Line all-day travel fares on the Thursday 'Go West' preview day will be £12.50 for adults, £7.50 for children and £35 for families (two adults and up to three children aged three to 15 inclusive).

Diesel Gala Adult Rover fares for unlimited travel are £25 for one day, £38 for two days and £46 for three days. Discounted fares are also available for children.

Adult Rover fares for 'Priv' card holders and CAMRA members are £18 for one day, £28 for two days and £36 for three days. Standard single and return fares are also available.

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