The branch line from Wareham on the Southampton
– Bournemouth – Weymouth mainline through
Corfe Castle to Swanage was opened in 1885 by
the London & South Western Railway, later to
become part of the Southern Railway and British
Railways Southern Region. The line closed to all
traffic in January 1972 and the track was quickly
lifted. However, a group of enthusiasts got together
with the aim of reopening the line as tourist attraction
and in 1975 were granted a licence to occupy
the vacant Swanage Station.
Track was re-laid and
restoration work commenced with the line being
opened in stages from Swanage, reaching Corfe
Castle and a new Park & Ride station at Norden by
1995. The line has since been reconnected to the
national rail network for the occasional passage of
special trains and it is hoped soon to reintroduce a
regular service between Swanage and Wareham.
The Park & Ride facility at Norden has proved
very popular for helping to get holiday-makers and
day trippers into Swanage, without the parking
problems that would otherwise occur, and the line
today carries around 200,000 passengers per year.
Using mainly appropriate Southern Region
motive power and green coaches the Swanage
Railway today recreates very well an authentic
Southern Railway/BR Southern Region branch line.
Through this book Don Bishop shows the line in
action today through mainly “trains in the landscape”
type images which also show how the line blends
very well into the Purbeck scenery. Through around
150 magnificent pictures included in the book Don
portrays the Swanage Railway at its best – a striking
reminder for those who know the line, and an
enticement to those who have yet to visit to do so
and contribute towards its ongoing success.
Don Bishop has been a keen railway photographer
for over 20 years and travels widely around the UK
looking for that seemingly elusive “master shot”. Since
2006 Don has worked as professional freelance
photographer concentrating on UK landscapes and
his steam images. Don has an extensive collection of
good quality images of the UK steam scene and regularly
has work published in magazines including a
number of features exclusively featuring his work.
also runs photo workshop days for people to learn
about his techniques in getting quality shots, UK landscapes
and steam at work in the landscape. Through
his Steam Recreations brand he has organised many
private photographic charter events at steam railways
around the UK, including the Swanage Railway,
in an attempt to recreate scenes from the past with
a particular emphasis on the 1950/60s’. Full details
are available on his website www.donbishop.co.uk.
Away from his photography Don knows the
heritage railway industry well, having been involved
with his local line, the West Somerset Railway, as
a volunteer for 22 years including special event planning
and as Heritage Director for West Somerset
Don is also author of The South Devon Railway,
West Somerset Railway, West Somerset Railway
Revisited and Spirit of theWest Somerset Railway also
Imprint: Halsgrove. ISBN 978 1 84114 920 2, hardback, 214x230mm, 144 pages. Published May 2009.