A quintet of Bulleid 'Pacifics', glorious spring weather on every day and thousands of visitors - the stars aligned for the Swanage railway, as it pulled off the most spectacular gala of the year so far…
You’re standing on Platform 2 at Swanage station, basking in glorious sunshine. At one end of the train, facing the bufferstops, is a rebuilt ‘Battle of Britain’. At the other is a gleaming BR Standard ‘4MT’ 2‐6‐4T, No. 80146. Both the platform and train are heaving with enthusiasts, all desperate to be a part of this unique and historic experience. The Swanage branch may never see its like again.
It could almost be June 18 1967, when the RCTS ‘Farewell to Southern Steam’ railtour (top and tailed by the aforementioned motive power) became the last steam‐hauled train operated over the ‘Purbeck Line’.
Except it isn’t. It’s 2017 and it’s the resurrected Swanage Railway’s ‘Strictly Bulleid’ gala.
It was the greatest event of the year so far.
See pages 94-98 of the magazine to see the full report.