LAST SIGNALMAN & PASSENGERS FROM 1972 TO MARK 40th ANNIVERSARY OF FINAL BRITISH RAIL TRAIN FROM SWANAGE
- 1st January 2012
News Item from Andrew P.M. Wright - dated 30th December 2011
Official photographer & press officer, Swanage Railway.
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Bob Richards & Arthur Galton last BR signalmen at Corfe Castle on 1st January 1972.
(Photo Peter Frost courtesy of Bob Richards via Andrew P.M. Wright)
The man who signalled the last British Rail train from Swanage to Corfe Castle and Wareham on New Year's Day, 1972 - as well as some of its passengers - are to gather on the Swanage Railway to mark the 40th anniversary of that very sad day.
See further down this page for a downloadable souvenir poster courtesy of Andrew P.M. Wright
The poignant reunion on the Swanage Railway takes place on Sunday, 1st January, 2012, and will see a special headboard carried on the steam locomotive hauling trains between Swanage, Herston, Harman's Cross, Corfe Castle and Norden Park & Ride.
Bob Richards at Corfe Castle on 18th and 24th December 1971.
(Photo Tony Trood via Andrew P.M. Wright)
Sunday will see retired Network Rail signalman Bob Richards of Corfe Castle reunited with two items of signalling equipment that he used on the cold night of 1 January, 1972, to signal the last British Rail train from Swanage to Corfe Castle and Wareham - a single line metal staff and key token.
Bob Richards at Corfe Castle on Christmas Eve 1971, holding the single line staff and single line key token.
(Photo Tony Trood via Andrew P.M. Wright)
Also gathering on the Swanage Railway with Bob on Sunday - exactly 40 years to the day since that last British Rail train from January, 1972 - will be three of its passengers; Peter Sills and his father Frederick Sills from Wareham as well as Malcolm Munro from Wool.
Fred & Peter Sills and 1972 last BR Swanage tickets.
(Photo Andrew P.M. Wright)
The volunteer chairman of the Swanage Railway Company, Peter will be bringing along his last British Rail train ticket from 1972 - which cost 25 pence - as will Malcolm who was 16 years old and had to pay 50 pence in 1972.
For those who have forgotten - or who were not alive at the time - 1972 was the year of Conservative Prime Minister Edward 'Ted' Heath, the national Miners' strike, power cuts and the Munich Olympics in West Germany.
Fred & Peter Sills and 1972 closure poster and last BR Swanage tickets. (Photo Andrew P.M. Wright)
Peter Sills explained: "When I rode on that last train as a 14 year-old with my father in 1972, I never ever thought the railway would come back - especially when the tracks were ripped up for scrap during the summer of 1972.
The special headboard for the Swanage Railway's steam trains on New Year's Day, 2012, has been specially made by Malcolm Munro, who works for the Environment Agency at Blandford.
Last BR train to Swanage at Wareham with driver Johnny Walker on 1st January 1972.
(Photo Arthur Grant via Andrew P.M. Wright)
He said: "The 40th anniversary of the last British Rail train from Swanage to Corfe Castle and Wareham could not go unmarked. It's important for people to remember, and to be reminded, that the Swanage Railway has been built from nothing after British Rail closed and lifted the branch line back in 1972.
"I'm very proud to play my part in running, developing and extending the Swanage Railway. As a 16 year-old back in 1972, I never dreamt that more than 30 years later I would become a volunteer signalman on the Swanage Railway which now carries more than 200,000 passengers a year."
Bob Richards at Corfe Castle. (Photo Andrew P.M. Wright)
For Bob Richards, New Year's Day, 2012, will be poignant and bitter-sweet: "It will be strange feeling to stand on Corfe Castle station exactly 40 years to the day since I signalled the last British Rail train from Swanage to Corfe Castle and Wareham on that dark and very cold night back in January, 1972. It was a very sad day indeed and no-one thought the railway would ever come back.
Last BR day at Corfe Castle with signalman Arthur Galton on 1st Jan 1972. (Photo Les Tindall via Andrew P.M. Wright)
"It will be a time to remember old railway colleagues and friends who worked on the Swanage branch line and who are sadly no longer with us. Two former signalmen only died very recently. I never thought the railway would or could come back but it has - against all the odds," explained Mr Richards.
Last BR day at Swanage on 1st Jan 1972. (Photo Les Tindall via Andrew P.M. Wright)
Bob Richards retired as a Network Rail signalman at Wareham station - where he had worked since the closure of the Swanage branch line in January, 1972 - in November, 2007.
Two views of the last BR train about to leave Swanage on 1st January 1972.
(Photos Tony Legg and Arthur Grant, both via Andrew P.M. Wright).
The Swanage Railway train service on New Year's Day, 2012, will be hauled by Standard Class 4 Tank No. 80104 built at Brighton in 1955 and which has been restored from a scrapyard condition.
Last BR train ticket (Malcolm Munro via Andrew P.M.Wright) and
Closure poster BR December 1971. (Photos Tony Trood via Andrew P.M. Wright)
Downloadable souvenir poster for New Year's Day 2012 courtesy of Andrew P.M. Wright