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‘SIR KEITH PARK’ STARS IN SPRING STEAM GALA WITH SOME TRAINS RUNNING TO THE RIVER FROME – WITHIN SIGHT OF WAREHAM

Published: March 24, 2018

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

A magnificent Bulleid Pacific steam locomotive that hauled trains for British Railways from Swanage and Corfe Castle to London during the mid-1960s is starring in the Swanage Railway’s Spring Steam Gala.​

Featuring four steam locomotives – and with some trains operating between Norden and the River Frome, within sight of Wareham – the gala runs from Friday, 23 March to Sunday, 25 March, 2018.

The first day of the Spring Steam Gala saw rebuilt Battle of Britain class Bulleid Pacific No. 34053 ‘Sir Keith Park’ haul its first passenger-carrying train on the Swanage Railway.

The award-winning Purbeck Mineral and Mining Museum next to Norden station is open during the Spring Steam Gala, along with the goods shed museum, exhibition coach and cinema coach at Corfe Castle station.

‘Sir Keith Park’ was based at British Railways’ Bournemouth shed when it hauled trains to London from Corfe Castle and Swanage in 1964.

With the theme of a locomotive works outing, the Spring Steam Gala features a steam-hauled service between Norden, Corfe Castle, Harman’s Cross and Swanage.

Some trains are also operating the four miles from Norden station to the River Frome with a heritage 1960s ex-Southern Region Class 33 diesel-electric locomotive on the front and a steam locomotive on the back.

As well as ‘Sir Keith Park’, other locomotives also appearing in the Swanage Railway’s Spring Steam Gala are T9 No. 30120, ‘U’ class No. 31806 and Standard Class 4 Tank No. 80104.

Built at Nine Elms in London during 1899, Victorian-designed London and South Western Railway T9 class locomotive No. 30120 is on loan to the Swanage Railway from the National Railway Museum’s National Collection.

Built in the late 1920s, Southern Railway U-class No. 31806 hauled Basingstoke to Swanage ‘bucket and spade’ trains for British Railways during the mid-1950s.

Standard Class 4 Tank No. 80104 was built at Brighton in 1955 and other members of the class hauled both passenger and goods trains between Wareham, Corfe Castle and Swanage between 1964 and 1966.

The last British Rail steam train to Corfe Castle and Swanage on Sunday, 18 June, 1967, was hauled by Standard Class 4 tank No. 80146.

During steam days, the Class 4 Standard Tanks operated stopping trains on the main line between Bournemouth and Weymouth as well as on the Somerset and Dorset line from Broadstone to Blandford Forum and Bath.

The Spring Steam Gala also features a nostalgic 1940s refreshment truck next to the good shed museum at Corfe Castle station as well as enthusiast and trade sales stands at Swanage and Corfe Castle stations.

The Swanage Railway always welcomes new volunteers so for an informal chat, contact Swanage Railway volunteer co-ordinator Mike Whitwam on 01929 408492 or email '[email protected]'.​

Swanage Railway train times – and special event details – are available online at www.swanagerailway.co.uk or by telephone on 01929 425800.