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BRITISH RAILWAYS STANDARD CLASS 5 STEAM LOCOMOTIVE TO RUN BETWEEN NORDEN & THE RIVER FROME FOR FIRST TIME

Published: October 10, 2019

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

History will be made during the Swanage Railway’s Autumn Steam gala when a powerful British Railways Standard Class 5 locomotive hauls passenger trains between Norden and the River Frome, within sight of Wareham, for the first time.

The three-day event – starring the impressive visiting steam locomotive No. 73156 from the Great Central Railway courtesy of the Bolton Steam Locomotive Company – takes place from Friday to Sunday, 11 to 13 October, 2019.

Classmates of No. 73156 were based at Bournemouth’s 71B shed and operated stopping trains between Southampton, Bournemouth and Weymouth as well as trains on the Somerset and Dorset line between Broadstone, Blandford Forum, Templecombe and Bath.

As well as No. 73156 stretching its legs on the Swanage Railway for the first time, the Autumn Steam Gala will also see the Swanage Railway’s home fleet of five steam locomotives – including two 1940s Bulleid Pacifics – in action.

Subject to availability, the home fleet steam locomotives appearing will be Victorian T9 No. 30120, Southern Railway late 1920s U class No. 31806, Bulleid Pacifics No. 34072 ‘257 Squadron’ and No. 34053 ‘Sir Keith Park’ as well as 1955 British Railways Standard Class 4 Tank No. 80104.

David Rawsthorn, the Swanage Railway’s head of sales and marketing, said: “The star of the Autumn Steam Gala – No. 73156 is a magnificent locomotive and will bring back memories of trains between Southampton, Bournemouth and Weymouth as well as the Somerset and Dorset between Broadstone, Blandford Forum, Templecombe and Bath.

“Our Autumn Steam Gala will feature an exciting and varied intensive timetable of passenger and nostalgic freight trains between Swanage, Harman’s Cross, Corfe Castle and Norden – with some passenger trains running on our four-mile extension from Norden to the River Frome, within sight of Wareham.

“Some trains will be double-headed, with two steam locomotives on the front, while some trains will be named – carrying nameboards on their smokebox doors. Our Autumn Steam Gala provides enjoyment for all and something for everyone.

“The Swanage Railway is very grateful to the Bolton Steam Locomotive Company and the Great Central Railway for enabling No. 73156’s first visit to the south coast and the Isle of Purbeck.

“Built at Doncaster during 1956 – the year of the Suez Crisis in Egypt – the Standard Class 5 locomotive was withdrawn from service by British Railways in late 1967. Sent to from the Barry scrapyard, in south Wales, it was purchased and restored to full working order. It’s a very impressive steam machine.

“No. 73156 will make a magnificent sight hauling trains up the two-mile 1 in 78 climb from the River Frome, within sight of Wareham, and Furzebrook – reminiscent of climbs on the Somerset and Dorset line, the climb out of Weymouth and the climb out of Poole up the Parkstone Bank,” added Mr Rawsthorn.

The Purbeck Mineral and Mining museum will be open next to Norden station throughout the Autumn Steam Gala while the Goods Shed Museum will also be open at Corfe Castle station during the event. There will be trade stands on the platform at Swanage station.

The Swanage Railway always welcomes new volunteers so, for a chat, contact Swanage Railway volunteer co-ordinator Mike Whitwam on 01929 475212 (answerphone) or email him at [email protected]