Steam rally returns to Swanage Railway for third year

With the Dorset Steam Fair cancelled for 2023, Swanage Railway is offering enthusiasts a chance to enjoy a local steam rally combining heritage locomotives with up to 50 traction and miniature engines, steam rollers and showman’s engines.

Roads to Rail is billed as a family event with fairground rides, trade stalls, food stalls, bar and live music at the showground next to Norden station near Corfe Castle in Dorset from Friday 23rd to Sunday 25th June 2023.

Advertisement 
Roads to Rail Norden 2022
ANDREW PM WRIGHT

Plenty of events in the arena

Nostalgic three day event

The nostalgic three day steam rally event was first conceived in 2021 when Swanage Railway’s funds had been depleted by Covid pandemic restrictions and there was a need to raise some cash.

The Dorset Steam Fair organisers had already announced they had cancelled their event in 2021 at its Tarrant Hinton showground, so a team of volunteers from Swanage Railway saw an opportunity to put on an outdoor event.

It was such a success, offering not only all the steam attractions but also live music, a beer tent and camping in the shadow of the ruins of Corfe Castle.

Roads to Rail Norden 2022
ANDREW PM WRIGHT

Roads to Rail continues into the evening

Dorset Steam Fair cancelled again in 2023

While the Dorset Steam Fair, one of the world’s largest heritage events, did go ahead in 2022, it’s been cancelled again for 2023, with the show’s directors citing “significant and spiralling increases in contractor and infrastructure costs.” It hopes to return in 2024.

Unperturbed Swanage Railway’s event is back for another year with a special steam train service between Norden, Corfe Castle and Swanage during the three days. This means visitors can enjoy seeing the road steam vehicles displayed alongside steam locomotives.

Roads to Rail Norden 2022
ANDREW PM WRIGHT

Little and large in the showground

Roads to Rail arena timetable

Friday 23rd June

  • 1 pm onwards: Free play area for all working exhibits

Saturday 24th June

  • 10.30 am: Classic vehicles
  • 11 am: Commercial vehicles and tractors
  • 11.30 am: Mix up
  • 1 pm onwards: Miniatures and full size steam engines

Sunday 25th June

  • 10.30 am: Classic vehicles
  • 11 am: Commercial vehicles and tractors
  • 11.30 am: Mix up
  • 1 pm onwards: Miniatures and full size steam engines
Roads to Rail Norden 2022
ANDREW PM WRIGHT

A steamy long weekend

“Going from strength to strength”

Chair of Swanage Railway Company Trevor Parsons said:

“We’re very proud to be hosting our third Roads to Rail which combines the nostalgia of steam rail travel with steam powered traction engines, steam rollers and vintage fairground rides.

“Going from strength to strength against the backdrop of the ruins of Corfe Castle, this is an evocative festival of steam large and small for all of those who love vintage steam-powered vehicles on the road or on the rails.

“Last year’s event was incredibly successful and this year the show ground will be larger with more traction engines and trade stalls as well as a bar and beer tents, food stalls and live music on the Friday and Saturday evenings.

“With people attending the event also having the rare opportunity to go on the footplate of one of our steam locomotives, Roads to Rail is a great day out for all the family and we hope that it will again draw in the crowds.

“Special events such as our Roads to Rail three-day event are critical for helping to fund the continued operation and development of the Swanage Railway as well as drawing visitors to the wonderful Isle of Purbeck ahead of the main summer season.

“The Roads to Rail event takes a lot of dedicated planning and organising from our staff and volunteers and I would like to pay tribute to all the hard work that has been put into the event.”

Roads to Rail Norden 2022
ANDREW PM WRIGHT

The event is a sociable occasion

Beer tent and live music

There’s a beer tent and live music through the day and into the evening of Friday and Saturday night. For those not camping, there’s a special evening heritage diesel service on the Friday and Saturday evenings to get everyone home.

Live bands line up

Friday 23rd June

  • 6 to 8 pm: Ribble
  • 9 to 11 pm: The Swamp Stomp String Band

Saturday 24th June

  • 1 to 3 pm: Phoenix RNR
  • 6 to 8 pm: Cloud 9
  • 9 to 11 pm: DSKA Assassins

Sunday 25th June

  • 1 to 3 pm: Heather Williams
Roads to Rail Norden 2022
ANDREW PM WRIGHT

Visits to the footplate of a steam locomotive

“Our Roads to Rail steam rally is unique”

One of the event’s organisers, Lorna Lock, said:

“Our Roads to Rail steam rally is unique because there is also the opportunity to include a steam or heritage diesel train ride through the Isle of Purbeck, ride on our heritage diesel train service from Wareham on the Friday and Saturday as well as the rare chance to visit the footplate of one of our steam locomotives.”

Roads to Rail steam rally Norden Saturday 28 August 2021
ANDREW PM WRIGHT

Camping available to book in the heart of the Purbeck countryside

Further information

  • A combined train ride from Swanage to Norden and return – with entry to the steam rally show ground – is £22 for adults, £8.50 for children aged five to 15 and £57 for a family of two adults and three children.
  • Entry to the steam show ground only is £7 for adults with children under the age of 16 being free.
  • Evening entry to the show ground from 6 pm is £5 for adults with children under the age of 16 being free.
  • Day parking at the Roads to Rail steam rally is free.
  • More about the Roads to Rail steam rally along with camping, ticket and entry information is on its website

Share this story

Contact us

Do you have anything to add to this story?

We like to keep everything up-to-date, so if you know more, please help us by getting in touch.

Advertisement 

Top stories

Swanage Railway scraps plans for regular rail service to Wareham Despite years of battling to reinstate a branch line service between Swanage and Wareham in Dorset, Swanage Railway has dashed any hope of running trains up to the mainline for ... 1 month ago More Purbeck visitors urged to take trip to Brownsea 2 weeks ago Swanage to get seafront sauna and new beach cafe 1 month ago New chapter in store for Corfe Castle village shop 1 month ago D-Day 80th anniversary to be marked by tank patrol at Studland 2 weeks ago

Most recent

Swanage RNLI joins night time rescue mission as yacht catches fire Swanage lifeboat volunteers answered a late night call for help on Saturday 13th April 2024 after a yacht caught fire in Poole Harbour. 4 hours ago Three weeks of roadworks to begin in Corfe Castle 1 day ago Scare for Skippy inspired Swanage’s new animal ambulance 2 days ago Swanage shop scoops top UK retailer award 3 days ago Swanage fire crews to make a splash with charity car wash 4 days ago