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EIGHT 1960s HERITAGE DIESEL LOCOMOTIVES TO FEATURE IN DIESEL GALA AND DORSET BEER FESTIVAL

Published: April 30, 2019

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

Eight heritage diesel locomotives – that help to tell the fascinating story of Britain’s railways during the transition from steam to diesel traction in the 1960s – are to feature in the Swanage Railway’s Diesel Gala and Dorset Beer Festival.

Now in its fourteenth year and featuring an intensive three-train service, popular annual event takes place from Friday to Sunday, 10 to 12 May, 2019, inclusive.

For the first time, this year’s event features an hourly train service along the whole length of the nine-mile Swanage Railway – from Swanage to the River Frome, within sight of Wareham and a half a mile short of the London to Weymouth main line.

The Dorset Beer Festival is being staged next to the heritage railway at the quaint Bankes Arms Hotel, in Corfe Castle’s village square, with the hotel’s garden giving a grandstand view of trains departing from and arriving at the restored Victorian station.

Heritage diesel trains will be running from 9am until 11.30pm on the Friday and Saturday and from 9am until 7pm on the Sunday – with ‘Beerex’ buffet coach trains operating on the Friday and Saturday evenings.

Using a restored 1960s ‘Hants & Dorset’ bus company-liveried red Bristol FLF, a special daytime heritage bus service – for diesel gala ticket holders only – will be running between Wareham station and Norden station on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

The Swanage Railway is staging a special Diesel Gala and Dorset Beer Festival preview day on Thursday, 9 May, 2019, with trains between Norden, Corfe Castle, Harman’s Cross and being alternately hauled by steam and heritage diesel locomotives.

Subject to availability, the visiting heritage diesel locomotives will be Class 25 No. D7535 (No. 25 185) courtesy of South Devon Diesel Traction Limited and Class 26 No. 26 007 – courtesy of Victor Korzeniewicz – which will be staying on the Swanage Railway until early September, 2019.

Other visiting heritage diesel locomotives will be Class 31 No. 97205 (No. 31 163) courtesy of the Chinnor and Princes Risborough Railway, Class 44 No. D4 ‘Great Gable’ (No. 44 004) courtesy of the Peak Locomotive Company, Class 50 No. 50 007 ‘Hercules’ courtesy of Class 50 Alliance Ltd and 1985-built Class 59 No. 59 003 ‘Yeoman Highlander’ courtesy of GB Railfreight. A dual-braked Class 73/1 electro-diesel is also set to visit the Diesel Gala and Beer Festival courtesy of GB Railfreight.

Two ex-British Railways Southern Region Class 33 diesel-electric locomotives, that are based on the Swanage Railway, will also be appearing at the popular annual three-day diesel gala and beer festival.

Swanage Railway business division director Mick Gould said: “The Class 33/1 Preservation Group Limited’s British Rail blue-liveried Class 33 No. 33 111 made history when it was the last Class 33 diesel locomotive to haul a 4TC ‘push-pull’ carriage set from Wareham to Corfe Castle and Swanage in September, 1971, on a special train staged by railway enthusiasts from Poole Grammar School.

“The Swanage Railway Trust 4TC Group’s restored ex-British Rail 4TC carriage No. 76275 – which ran on trains between Bournemouth and Weymouth from the end of steam trains in 1967 to the electrification between Poole and Weymouth in 1988 – will be on display at Corfe Castle station.

“The 71A Locomotive Group’s green-liveried Class 33 diesel-electric locomotive No. D6515 (No. 33 012) – ‘Lt Jenny Lewis RN’ – was the last locomotive to run on the Poole to Wimborne line after it closed to freight traffic in May, 1977, and before the tracks were lifted,” added Mr Gould, a Swanage Railway volunteer train guard and signalman.

The event preview day on Thursday, 9 May, 2019, is being staged on the theme of Type 2 diesel locomotives with two ex-British Railways Type 2 diesel locomotives – Class 25 No. D7535 and Class 26 No. 26 007 – hauling the trains alternately with a steam locomotive.

At Corfe Castle station, the goods shed museum will be open along with a nostalgic 1940s tea truck selling refreshments and snacks. There will also be trade stands and a barbecue (BBQ) at Swanage station.

Full details of the Diesel Gala and Dorset Beer Festival, including timetables and fares, are available from the Swanage Railway’s website at www.swanagerailway.co.uk. Reduced price fares apply if tickets are purchased on-line in advance of the event.

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]