Two diminutive and charming Cornish locomotives have arrived on the Swanage Railway to star in the heritage line’s Grand Steam Gala – and make a very special piece of Dorset railway history!
Bagnall-manufactured saddle tanks ‘Judy’ and ‘Alfred’ – dating from 1936 and 1953 respectively – have been joined by a steam locomotive inspired by the man who designed the Ivatt tanks which hauled trains between Wareham, Corfe Castle and Swanage for British Railways between 1964 and 1966.
Ex-British Railways Class ’2′ Standard 2-6-0 wheel arrangement tender locomotive No. 78019 replaces steam locomotive ‘Duke of Gloucester’ which is unable to appear in the Swanage Railway Grand Steam Gala because of a mechanical problem.
The three-day Grand Steam Gala bursts into life on the relaid Purbeck Line early on the morning of Friday, 7 September, 2012, and runs for three nostalgia-filled days until the end of Sunday, 9 September, 2012.
Port of Par dock tanks ‘Judy’ and ‘Alfred’ will be topping and tailing a special shuttle train service on the mile of rarely used line between Norden Park & Ride and Motala near Furzebrook which is the boundary with the Network Rail and the national railway system.
Swanage Railway Company chairman Peter Sills explained: “The shuttle trains will be historic because it will be the first time that regular timetabled passenger trains – carrying the public in carriages – have operated between Norden and Motala since Saturday, 1 January, 1972.
“That was the day that the last British Rail trains controversially ran between Wareham, Corfe Castle and Swanage before the line was officially closed on Monday, 3 January, 1972, and lifted for scrap during that summer,” he added.
On loan from the Great Central Railway in Leicestershire, No. 78019 – built at Darlington in 1954 – has more of a link to the Swanage Railway than many people may realise.
The design of the Standard Class ’2′ locomotives was based on the LMS Ivatt locomotives – the tank versions of which hauled trains between Wareham, Corfe Castle and Swanage from 1964 until the branch was dieselised in September, 1966.
Built to work china clay trains at the Par Docks in Cornwall, ‘Judy’ and ‘Alfred’ had to be squat in stature – being half the height of a conventional steam locomotive – because they had to run under a low bridge carrying the Penzance to London main line.
Peter Sills added: “With evening trains running on the Friday and Saturday, Purbeck District Council’s Norden Park & Ride attended car park conveniently next to the station will be open until late – not closing until after the last train.
“The Grand Steam Gala includes a three-day vintage vehicle rally next to Harman’s Cross station – staged by the Bournemouth and Poole Preservation Club – as well as demonstration freight trains. It will be an event not to be missed,” he explained.
Swanage Railway’s own stable of five main line steam locomotives – Victorian M7 tank No. 53, 1920s Great Western Tank No. 6695, 1940s Bulleid Pacifics No. 34070 ‘Manston’ and No. 34028 ‘Eddystone’ as well as 1950s Standard Tank No. 80104 – will also be hauling trains during the popular three-day event.
Adult and child rover tickets giving unlimited travel for one, two and three days – and also evening rover tickets – will be available across all three days of the Grand Steam Gala, along with standard return and single tickets.
Swanage Railway train service details are available by going online and visiting www.swanagerailway.co.uk or by calling the Swanage Railway on 01929 425800.