Swanage Railways volunteers are a friendly, dedicated group with a good mix of talents and interests and support one of the main tourist attractions on the Isle of Purbeck.
Swanage Railway has been built from the ground up since 1976 and after the tracks were removed for scrap in 1972 when the ten mile branch line which ran from Wareham to Corfe Castle and Swanage was controversially closed.
Volunteers take on many roles at Swanage Railway, from steam locomotive platform crew, train guards, signalmen or station porters. Volunteers also maintain and improve the heritage line and support the Swanage Railway’s crucial fundraising activities.
A good variety of volunteer opportunities are available and each is essential to the continued operation and maintenance of the award winning 9.5 mile heritage railway which runs both steam and diesel heritage trains along its 5.5 miles of restored line.
Volunteering opportunities include the Purbeck Mineral and Mining Museum, which sits next to Norden station and was built from scratch over a 20-year period, recording the fascinating history of clay mining Ball on the Isle of Purbeck.
Swanage Railway received the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service from the Duke of Kent in 2018. The award recognized the crucial role volunteers had played in rebuilding and running the heritage line for over 40 years.
The Heritage Railways 500 volunteer group saves around £1.5m each year in employment costs and means that all profits made through railway and retail operations can be funneled directly back into the line which is run by the registered charity, the Swanage Railway Trust.
Swanage Railway volunteer signalman Randy Coldham said:
“Our dedicated volunteers are the lifeblood of the Swanage Railway and without them our award-winning heritage line through the beautiful Isle of Purbeck could not function.
“People don’t have to be passionate about railways to volunteer on the Swanage Railway, as many jobs don’t involve operating the railway. Some volunteers do several days a week and others only one, it all depends on what suits them and what they want to do.
“The Swanage Railway is a vibrant and rewarding community project in the beautiful Isle of Purbeck, a Protected Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and on the internationally recognized Jurassic Coast.
“In addition to helping to operate our heritage rail service, our volunteers fill a host of other roles, including reservations attendants, ticket inspectors, permanent track maintenance workers, signal technicians, telephones and radios as well as maintenance workers who keep our listed buildings in good condition.
“We also have a team of dedicated volunteers who restore and repair our historic heritage cars, our museum staff at Corfe Castle station as well as the Purbeck Mineral and Mining Museum next to Norden station, our station shop from Swanage and our catering staff who work in our popular restaurant trains and in our catering outlets at three stations.
“Whatever people want to do on the Swanage Railway, we will give them the training and support they need. They will join a dedicated and committed group of people who are helping to make the Swanage Railway one of Purbeck’s top tourist attractions.
“We always need new volunteers to come forward as the Swanage Railway grows and further improves and because our existing volunteers are aging – some are retiring or leaving for work, personal or family reasons” , explained Randy who lives in the North Dorset town. of Gillingham.
Randy is a voluntary trustee of the Swanage Railway Trust and also a voluntary director of the Swanage Railway Company, which is the trading arm of the Trust and runs the rail services alongside commercial and retail operations.
New volunteers are welcome at Swanage Railway and anyone interested can contact Swanage Railway’s Volunteer Recruitment and Retention Manager, Jonathan Evans, by email [email protected]