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The Swanage Railway's new 'Winter Warm Up' steam & diesel mini-gala day is judged a success by visitors and volunteers alike.

Published: December 30, 2013

Swanage Railway volunteers are celebrating with their first ever Winter Warm Up mini steam and diesel gala being judged a success - despite the wet weather that struck the event for most of the special day.

Classic steam and diesel locomotives - together with a nostalgic freight train - ran between Swanage, Herston Halt, Harman's Cross Corfe Castle and Norden Park & Ride on Saturday, 28 December, 2013, in was the perfect way to blow out the Christmas cobwebs.

It was the first such event to take place between Christmas and New Year on the volunteer-led Swanage Railway which has been rebuilt from nothing since 1976.

For the public and enthusiasts alike, it was a chance to enjoy the nostalgic delights of classic steam and diesel locomotives - and an evocative freight train from yesteryear - against the beautiful backdrop of the Purbeck countryside and the dramatic ruins of Corfe Castle.

The featured steam locomotives hauling the passenger trains were Victorian-designed 1905 London and South Western Railway M7 tank No. 30053 - the only working M7 to survive from the 1960s - 1947 express Southern Railway Battle of Britain class Bulleid Pacific No. 34070 'Manston' and classic 1960s British Railways Southern Region Class 33 diesel-electric No. 33 111.

No. 30053 used to haul 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Poole, Broadstone, Wimborne, West Moors, Ringwood and Brockenhurst - from late 1963 through to May, 1964, when it was withdrawn.

Class 33 diesel-electric locomotive No. 33 111 made British Rail history in September, 1971, when it hauled the last 'push-pull' passenger train to Corfe Castle and Swanage just three months before the branch line was controversially closed and six and a half miles of track later lifted for scrap.

No. 33 111 was joined by a new arrival on a few months seaside holiday at Swanage, Hastings line 'Slim Jim' Class 33 diesel-electric locomotive No. 33 202 ''Dennis G. Robinson''.

A new winter mini-gala event, the 'Winter Warm Up' event offered the public something special between Christmas and the New Year when many people were on holiday with their families and wanted to enjoy a bracing day out with a difference in the Isle of Purbeck.

The steam and diesel locomotives worked an intensive timetable of trains throughout the day - with each locomotive also hauling a freight train in a nostalgic scene from yesteryear and an impressive sight that has disappeared from the national railway network

To add to the branch line railway atmosphere, a milk tanker wagon was attached to the rear of the four-coach steam trains in a throwback to when freight wagons were added to passenger trains and back to the days when there was a dairy next to Corfe Castle station with the milk being sent away by steam train.

Class 33 diesel-electric locomotives No. 33 111 and No. 33 202 took it in turns to haul a rake of three coaches. With the railway shop open at Swanage station, hot drinks and snacks were available at the Swanage and Norden station buffet coaches.

'Freedom of the line' tickets for the 'Winter Warm Up' event were just £16 offering unlimited travel on the day of issue - meaning that visitors could go where they like, when they like.

Swanage Railway train times - and special event details - are available online by following the menu links on the left or by telephone on 01929 425800.