Swanage bumper Bulleid bonanza draws record crowds

STEAM returned with a vengeance to the sunny south to mark the 50th anniversary of its passing on the region’s main line – as the Swanage Railway held its most successful gala ever.

The March 31-April 2 Strictly Bulleid event not only starred the largest number of working Bulleid Pacific locomotives since the summer of 1967, but a record-breaking 5700 passengers were carried – a figure greater than the population of Wareham and four times the population of Corfe Castle.

Battle of Britain No. 34081departs from Corfe Castle northbound on April 2. KARL HEATH

For the event, steam trains also operated on the Swanage Railway’s four-mile newly completed extension from Norden station westwards to the River Frome – half a mile short of the main London to Weymouth line and within sight of Wareham, the railway’s intended destination for public trains this year.

General manager Matt Green said: “We had an absolutely fantastic Strictly Bulleid event with some 110 volunteers and staff helping to stage the event each day. While we had some train delays, in what was a tight timetable, there was a great atmosphere about the place.

“The quality of the workmanship that has gone into the visiting Bulleid Pacific steam locomotives was incredible. All the engines performed well, they were well liked by the footplate crews and they came with some excellent locomotive owners and representatives.”

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