Since then, volunteers have been busy maintaining the site while it is closed to the public in readiness for when visitors can once again enjoy the service. In the meantime, you may be interested to know these 10 facts about the history of the heritage railway line.
1. The 10-mile branch line from Wareham to Corfe Castle and Swanage was opened in May 1885.
2. Despite many objections, British Rail closed the Swanage branch line in January 1972.
3. In the summer of 1972, six-and-a-half miles of track were lifted for scrap from Swanage to Corfe Castle and beyond Norden to Motala, half a mile east of Furzebrook. Local people were heartbroken to see it go.
4. Four years later, in 1976, volunteers started work on rebuilding the railway.
5. The volunteer-led Swanage Railway, which is now functional, is managed by a registered charity: the Swanage Railway Trust.
6. Until lockdown, the restored heritage railway line carried more than 200,000 passengers a year and contributed more than £15m a year to the Purbeck economy.
7. Some 450 people regularly volunteer their services on the Swanage Railway in a variety of roles.
8. Most of the 46 paid staff have been furloughed to reduce costs, but essential staff are maintaining, repairing and keeping the Swanage Railway secure until train operations can be resumed. They are taking precautions and exercising social distancing as per the government advice.
9. Keeping the railway in a care and maintenance state while trains are not running costs £46,000 per month.
10. A ‘Save Our Service’ appeal was launched on 25 March 2020 and had raised £136,168 by 28 April towards its target of £360,000. The appeal target, together with grants and government assistance, will help Swanage Railway to survive until it is able to run its train services again.
Visit www.saveourservice.co.uk to find out more.
Here are some photographs © Andrew PM Wright of care and maintenance work being carried out during the past week on the Swanage Railway in Dorset while it is closed to the public.
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