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Wednesday October 27th 2021

SWANAGE RAILWAY CELEBRATES TWENTIETH ANNIVERSARY OF THE FIRST PASSENGER TRAINS TO CORFE CASTLE & NORDEN


An important achievement in the development of the Swanage Railway has been celebrated by the heritage line’s volunteers – the twentieth anniversary of the first passenger trains to Corfe Castle and Norden.

The hot and sunny morning of Saturday, 12 August, 1995 – truly the Glorious Twelfth – saw the first passenger trains run from Swanage to Corfe Castle and Norden for the first time since the last British Rail train in January, 1972.

In the 20 years that followed, some four million passengers have taken the train from Norden and Corfe Castle to Swanage – taking traffic off the narrow and winding A351 road to the picture postcard village and the seaside town.

Volunteer Stuart Vousden drove some of the trains on that first day on Saturday, 12 August, 1995, and exactly 20 years on – to the day – Stuart drove the first train of the day from Swanage to Corfe Castle and Norden.

The rebuilding of the two and a half miles of line from Harman’s Cross to Corfe Castle and Norden took seven years and £360,000 after the tracks were lifted for scrap by British Rail during the summer of 1972.

By the end of the first week of extended train operations in August, 1995, 20,000 passengers were carried to Corfe Castle and beyond to Norden where Purbeck District Council had built its successful park and ride car park.

Swanage Railway General Manager Matt Green said: “The amount of effort that goes into extending a preserved railway is huge so to achieve the extension to Norden against all the odds – including fighting off a proposed by-pass on the disused line through Corfe Castle – is incredible.”

The extended line from Harman’s Cross to Corfe Castle and Norden took 900 tonnes of track in 180 60-foot-long panels; 360 rails; 6,000 wooden and concrete sleepers; 12,000 track chairs; 36,000 track screws; 1,200 fishplates; 2,400 bolts and 6,000 tonnes of granite track ballast.

And the cost of relaying the line from Harman’s Cross to Corfe Castle and Norden – £360,000 – was almost five times the original cost of building the entire ten mile branch line from Wareham to Swanage in 1883 and 1884.

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