TRAINS and beer will be on offer at a special event this month.
Swanage Railway is set to host its annual Diesel Gala and Beer Festival from Friday to Sunday, May 12 to 14.
Among the displays will be a group of nine heritage diesel locomotives that help tell the story of Britain’s railways during the transition from steam to diesel trains in the 1960s.
Off the tracks, Purbeck Kitchens is organising and hosting a beer festival at Corfe Castle station.
This year’s event, the 16th gala, will be the first to see a Class 17 heritage diesel haul trains on the four miles of line from Norden station to the River Frome.
It is also set to include a nostalgic 1966 ‘push-pull’ 4TC four-carriage set, courtesy of London Transport, which operated between London and Swanage from 1967 to 1969 and on the main line between London and Weymouth from 1967 to 1988 when the Bournemouth to Weymouth line was electrified.
Also appearing at the diesel gala will be Class 33 No 33 111 which hauled the last 4TC ‘push-pull’ carriage set to Corfe Castle and Swanage on a Poole Grammar School railway society enthusiasts’ charter train in September, 1971.
Another of the heritage diesel locomotives featuring at the event, Class 33 diesel-electric locomotive No. D6515 ‘Lt Jenny Lewis RN’, hauled the last train through Broadstone to Wimborne after British Rail closed the line to freight trains in May, 1977.
The diesel gala will see trains operating along the entire length of the nine-mile Swanage Railway – past Norden station and beyond Furzebrook to the River Frome.
On May 11, there will be a special diesel gala preview event with a day of diesel and steam trains between Norden, Corfe Castle and Swanage featuring Class 17 heritage diesel No D8568.
On that day, the Swanage Railway will also be operating its 1950s Class 117 diesel multiple unit to Wareham but the Wareham service will not be operating during the three days of the gala.
Event organising team member, Dan Bennett, said: “Our annual diesel gala and beer festival is an important and popular event in the Swanage Railway calendar while there is an ever-growing national following for heritage diesel locomotives, particularly among younger rail enthusiasts.
“Over the past 16 years, our diesel gala and beer festival has grown in popularity to become one of the most highly regarded annual events of its type in the country.
“A lot of detailed organisation by a small team of enthusiastic Swanage Railway volunteers and staff goes into planning the diesel gala with planning beginning in earnest four or five months before the event,” added Dan, who lives in Wareham and has been a dedicated Swanage Railway volunteer since he was a teenager.
Admission to the beer festival at Corfe Castle station will be free with a token system in operation for the purchase of drinks.
Full details of the Diesel Gala and Dorset Beer Festival, including timetables and fares, are available online at www.swanagerailway.co.uk. Reduced price fares apply if tickets are purchased online in advance.