Wednesday, 24 June 2020

Will The Train Stop Here?

Here's the latest jigsaw which Mary and Richard lent me.
Entitled Corfe Crossing, it shows the 1954 Class 4 Tank Loco 80078, at a level crossing in Dorsdet, and in the background, historic Corfe Castle. There is no date on the jigsaw box - but that loco was sold in 2012 and went to Essex. 
So this picture is about 10-15 years old. The railway is the wonderful Swanage Railway, first opened 1885, then destined for destruction in the foolishly shortsighted Beeching Cuts of the 1960s. However in the late 1970s a group of enthusiasts started working to preserve the track, and amass a good collection of locos and rolling stock.
The Swanage Railway Trust [until the pandemic] was running trains between Wareham and Swanage every weekend and Bank Holiday - plus lots of 'specials'. When Bob and I had a day out at Corfe Castle, I was able to look down and take a picture of a steam loco chuffing past.

The Railway has, for many years, brought pleasure to so many people - even young children seem to know what a steam engine is [thanks to Thomas and his  friends] but this year the management said that they felt that after 40 years, the Railway might have to close. It costs an awful lot to maintain and operate these lovely pieces of machinery. An appeal was set up, to raise £360,000 and they have already raised over half that sum. 
The Railway usually costs £200,000 a month to maintain - and the bulk of the income is raised during the summer months. It is estimated that the Railway contributes around £15 million per annum to the economy of the Isle of Purbeck region. So many visitors come to see the railway, and then stay in the area, and hospitality, food outlets etc all benefit.
Nationally, so many businesses have collapsed, sadly, due to the pandemic. Years of work lost almost overnight, livelihoods and lifestyles ruined. If you list British counties in terms of wealth, Dorset is in the bottom two thirds. Tourism and heritage are its two major sources of revenue - so it is important to the locals that this attraction is maintained. It would be a shame if all we had left at the end of this was a jigsaw to remind us...
Corfe Castle is a ruin, shelled by Cromwell's army in 1643 - but it remains on the hill for all to see. A symbol of one woman's brave defiance. Lady Mary Bankes and her family were given a second chance, and built a new home at nearby Kingston
 Lacy.The people running the Railway Trust have maintained that indomitable spirit, and are determined that the trains will run again when all this is over. I hope they are successful in their efforts.


  1. I've been there. We used to help run a SU holiday nearby. Late 1990s.

  2. Oh I hope that it can be saved! There are so many businesses and things that are going to suffer!


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