London to Swanage

Swanage Railway

Picture by Andrew P.M. Wright

History is to be made this weekend when the first ever train runs from London’s Euston station down to Swanage – with a steam locomotive named after the man whose 17th century Parliamentary forces captured and destroyed Corfe Castle hauling the special charter.

The ‘Swanage Belle’ is due to arrive in Swanage just after 2pm on Saturday, 15 October, 2011, after its six-hour journey from London and depart the Purbeck seaside resort two hours later at 4.05pm, at the start of the train’s six hour journey ending at London’s Kensington Olympia station.

Organised by the Railway Touring Company, the long ten-coach charter train carrying some 500 excited passengers will be hauled from Euston station by mighty 1950s British Railways Britannia class steam locomotive No. 70013 ‘Oliver Cromwell’.

At Swanage station, the steam locomotive will be swapped with 1940s Southern Railway Battle of Britain class Bulleid Pacific steam locomotive No. 34067 ‘Tangmere’ which will be hauling the charter train back to London.

Swanage Railway commercial manager Martin Payne said: “Everyone on the Swanage Railway is very excited about making railway history and welcoming the first ever train from Euston station down to Corfe Castle and Swanage.

“The southern terminus of the west coast main line and first built in the borough of Camden during 1837, Euston was London’s first inter-city railway station and it’s the sixth busiest rail terminal in the capital,” he added.

Running via Staines, Woking, Basingstoke, Southampton, Bournemouth and Poole, the history-making ‘Swanage Belle’ will be passing through Wareham en route to Swanage just after 1pm and then returning through Wareham just after 5pm en route from Swanage back to London.

Martin Payne explained: “An impressive and iconic giant steam locomotive, ‘Oliver Cromwell’ was named after a 17th Century leader whose Parliamentary forces captured Corfe Castle from the Royalists during the English Civil War.

“Owned by the National Railway Museum in York as part of its National Collection, ‘Oliver Cromwell’ was saved from the cutting torch during the 1960s and is a mighty Britannia Class 7 steam locomotive built in 1951 for hauling both passenger and freight trains.

“The historic 4-6-2 wheel arrangement steam locomotive built at Crewe for British Railways in May 1951, is 67 feet long and weighs 143 tons. It’s a real beast and is a very impressive sight,” added Mr Payne.

Designed for British Railways by Robert Riddles and built in 1951 – the year of the optimistic and forward looking Festival of Britain on London’s South Bank – ‘Oliver Cromwell’ has three sets of driving wheels that are six feet two inches in diameter.

The Britannia class steam locomotive has a boiler pressure of 250 pounds per square inch, a tractive effort of 32,150 pounds while it carries seven tons of coal and 4,250 gallons of water in its huge tender.

Rebuilt from nothing since 1976, the volunteer-run Swanage Railway carries more than 200,000 passengers a year on the six miles of relaid railway line between Norden ‘park and ride’, Corfe Castle, Harman’s Cross, Herston Halt and Swanage.

The heritage railway contributes around £10 million to the Purbeck economy and profits from the running of train services and special events are ploughed back into the development and extension of the Swanage Railway and its facilities.