There’s more to working on the Swanage Railway than driving trains or collecting tickets!
Steam trains run on most weekends throughout the year and daily from April to October. In July and August we operate a very intensive service with a train every 40 minutes, plus an evening diesel service that runs till after 11pm. You can see why we need plenty of volunteers!
There are so many varied jobs around our Railway that whatever your professional background, skills or interest, you can find a niche which allows you to contribute to the success of the whole enterprise. Full training is given where necessary.
For almost 90 years, this branch line wound its way through the beautiful Purbeck countryside, from Wareham, past Corfe Castle to the attractive, Victorian, sea-side town of Swanage. In 1972, British Rail closed the line, and seven miles of track between Swanage and Furzebrook was ripped up in just seven weeks.
When a small group of volunteers got together later that year, they were faced with a disused and boarded-up Swanage station, bulldozed platforms and no track! However, after over 40 years of hard work, they have produced a miracle – one of Britain’s best preserved heritage railways.
From small beginnings, our volunteers, joined later by a small core of paid staff, re-laid track, built new stations at Herston, Harmans Cross and Norden, rebuilt Swanage station platforms, restored Corfe Castle station to the delightful feature it is today, and can now boast the most intensively operated standard gauge preserved railway in the country.
As well as being a major tourist attraction in the Purbeck area, the line now provides an important transport link from Norden Park & Ride station to Corfe Castle and Swanage, helping reduce the number of cars on the already busy A351.
One of the aims of the Swanage Railway Trust (the charity that has overall control of the Railway), is to reinstate the line to Wareham and facilitate a rail service that will connect the Isle of Purbeck to the main-line railway. With this in mind, work has already been completed beyond Norden to the end of the Network Rail line at Motala. Occasional charter trains now run between the national rail network and Swanage and we look forward to the reinstatement of a regular service between Swanage and Wareham in due course.
All these aims require much money and labour. Most of our labour by far is from volunteers as this is the only cost-effective way that we can undertake the work. This labour takes many forms, as this leaflet shows, so whether you want to get involved physically (laying track, working with locomotives or carriages, signalling etc.), or whether you would like to help with administration, publicity, fundraising etc., there is a place for you at our Railway. We also need people willing to work in the shop or in catering, checking tickets on the trains, acting as station staff and generally making our customers’ day a memorable and enjoyable one.
Want to know more?
Call Mike Whitwam on 01929 475212 or send an email to:
We can then show you the various areas that interest you and introduce you to the departmental or project managers, and you can meet other volunteers at work. If you can't wait or just want to find out more about some of the work undertaken by volunteers simply click the links on the left to download departmental volunteer profiles.
Swanning Around Volunteers Newsletter
Swanning Around is a new volunteer produced newsletter giving a look at what's happening around the Swanage Railway.
Prepared and edited by John Denison, Swanning Around is a regular publication with news, photos, gossip and more.