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VOLUNTEERS TO STAGE CHRISTMAS CAROL STEAM TRAIN WITH PASSENGERS INVITED TO ATTEND IN VICTORIAN COSTUME

Published: November 28, 2015

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

Passengers are being invited to attend in Victorian costume when dedicated Swanage Railway volunteers stage an evocative and festive steam-hauled Christmas carol train.

The special event takes place on the evening of Friday, 4 December, 2015, and features members of the Swanage Town Band and the Harmony Rocks ladies' choir.

There will be half-hour carol singing sessions at festively decorated Harman's Cross and Corfe Castle stations – as well as at Swanage on the train's return – with carol sheets provided so passengers can sing along.

Hauled by Victorian-designed London and South Western Railway M7 class tank locomotive No. 30053, built in London during 1905, the special train departs Swanage at 7pm for the two-hour event of festive music and song.

Mulled wine will be on sale when the festively decorated Christmas carol steam train calls at Harman's Cross and Corfe Castle stations while passengers will receive a complimentary festive drink and mince pie.

Members of the Swanage Town Band will be playing on the train while also appearing will be between 18 and 20 members of the Harmony Rocks Singers.

A second steam-hauled Christmas carol train – featuring just the Harmony Rocks ladies' choir with music from the choir's musical director Clare Perriss (CORRECT) and not on a Victorian theme – takes to the rails on Friday, 11 December, 2015, with the Swanage Town Crier being a special guest.

The times for the second Christmas carol train are the same as for the Victorian Christmas carol steam train with passengers at both special events being welcomed by Swanage Town Crier Andrew Fleming.

Featuring ladies from east Purbeck – including the village of Harman's Cross and the town of Swanage – the popular Harmony Rocks choir meets at the Harman's Cross village hall on Wednesday afternoons.

Clare Perriss studied choir and ensemble musical direction at the University of Melbourne in Australia where she specialised in instrumental music tuition.

Swanage Railway General Manager Matt Green said: "An experienced piano accompanist and professional jazz pianist, Clare has extensive  experience in directing musical productions, concert bands, small ensembles and choirs.

"She has a huge repertoire of traditional and contemporary Christmas music and in addition to the well known sing-along Christmas favourite carols, Clare will be leading the Harmony Rocks choir," he added.

Passengers can only board the special Christmas carol trains at Swanage from 6.45pm where they will be greeted by musicians playing seasonal music.

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

Matt Green explained: "Our festive Christmas carol trains have a lovely and very heart-warming atmosphere. They will be evocative and unforgettable events that are the perfect start to December's Christmas preparations.

"I would like to say a big thank you to the dedicated team of volunteers that has organised the Christmas carol trains for their hard work and attention to detail for what will be two very special evenings," he added.

Tickets for the Victorian Christmas Carol train are £14.50 for adults, £8 for children aged five to 15 (inclusive) and children under the age of five free. Family tickets are £38.50 for two adults and up to three children.

Tickets for the second Christmas Carol train are £12.50 for adults, £7 for children aged five to 15 (inclusive) and children under the age of five free. Family tickets are £33.50 for two adults and up to three children.

To buy tickets for the Christmas carol steam trains, visit www. swanagerailway.co.uk or call 01929 475203. Seats cannot be reserved.