Putting Purbeck’s ‘forgotten’ railway station on the map

The smallest station on the Swanage Railway line, Herston Halt has been given a major sprucing up, helped by the Royal Corps of Signals.

The request stop, one mile west of Swanage, was in need of some attention, so a team of volunteers led by local resident Frank Roberts has transformed the station into, arguably, the most attractive on the line.

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Herston Halt railway station
ANDREW PM WRIGHT

The Royal Corps of Signals with the Swanage Town Mayor at Herston Halt

No trains for 18 months

With no trains for 18 months due to the Covid pandemic preventing the heritage railway line from operating, Herston Halt was left deserted. But once restrictions eased, Frank Roberts was keen to get started on the project to revitalise the little station.

In order to raise funds, he along with an old friend John Green and John’s son, Harvey walked the Jurassic Coast – 100 miles of challenging coastline – in May 2021.

Frank Roberts completing the Jurassic Coast walk
Frank Roberts

Frank Roberts at the end of his challenging walk along the Jurassic Coast with John Green and John’s son, Harvey

Swanage Army Link

Nearly £4,000 was raised and split between the Swanage Army Link, which aims to raise the profile of the armed forces in the community, and the Royal Signals Charity.

For almost 40 years there’s been a link between Swanage and the Royal Corps of Signals and soldiers have regularly volunteered to help the railway.

They returned again for the official opening of the new gardens and pond at Herston Halt Station on Friday 22nd July 2022.

Swanage Town Mayor Tina Foster was on hand to do the honours, along with the commanding officer of the 11th (Royal School of Signals) Signal Regiment Lt Col Becky Jacques-Grey.

Herston Halt railway station
ANDREW PM WRIGHT
Herston Halt railway station
ANDREW PM WRIGHT

The offical unveiling of the QEII pond

Royally named pond

The pond was royally Christened as the Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee Pond, as it was dug out and planted at the same time as the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations.

There was another ceremony for Frank to attend at the beginning of August 2022, when he handed over a cheque for £2,000 to the Royal Signals Charity – the other half of the money raised from his Jurassic Coast walk.

Frank Roberts hands over cheque to Royal Signals Charity
Frank Roberts

Frank Roberts, who served in the Signals for 25 years, hands over a cheque for £2,000 to Col (retired) Dave Craft on behalf of the Royal Signals Charity at Blandford Forum

“Herston Halt quite often gets forgotten”

Frank said:

“Herston Halt quite often gets forgotten as its the smallest station on the Swanage Railway line but now it must be one of the best!

“There’s currently a team of about 11 of us, who regularly look after the station, compared to three about three years ago.

“We always welcome new volunteers as there are plenty of things to do from gardening to construction work to general maintenance. We’ve also got a 50 foot long railway vehicle – a scenery van – to refurbish.

“If anyone is thinking of volunteering with Swanage Railway, joining the team at Herston Halt is a good way to find out more about the heritage line and a stepping stone to getting more involved with the organisation.”

Frank Roberts and pond at Herston Halt under construction
Frank Roberts

The pond under contruction during the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations in June 2022

Further information

  • More about volunteering with Swanage Railway and how to get in contact with the team at Herston Halt station is on the Swanage Railway website

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