Swanage Railway hosts bank holiday steam extravaganza

In its first big event since the latest lockdown, Swanage Railway is staging a four day rally, celebrating steam-powered transport from trains to rollers.

The Road to Rail event is at Norden near Corfe Castle in Purbeck and runs from Friday 27th to Monday 30th August 2021.


With the Dorset Steam Fair cancelled for a second year, the Swanage Railway organisers saw a chance to offer steam enthusiasts a chance to see both steam road and rail transport at the same time, with the showground adjacent to the railway line.

Hook a duck

Traditional fairground attractions are on offer

Fairground rides

There’s also fairground rides, trade stalls, food kiosks, a beer tent and live music in the evening.

A steam train service between Norden, Corfe Castle and Swanage is operating during the event, including a special evening heritage diesel railbus service.

Steam roller
Steam locomotive

Road and rail steam engines are on display

“A real sense of achievement”

One of the event organisers, Swanage Railway volunteer Graham Froud said:

“Advanced bookings have been amazing and the interest in the event is very promising. It’s a real sense of achievement to turn this site from a field on Wednesday into a showground by Friday. It’s been a real team effort!”

Beer tent and steam roller

The beer tent is hosting live music in the evening

Nick Lloyds, Trevor Parsons and Graham Froud

Swanage Railway volunteers and part of the organising team (left to right) Nick Lloyd, Trevor Parsons and Graham Froud

“People are keen to get out”

Another of the organisers, Nick Lloyd added:

“It’s an outdoor event so I think people are keen to get out rather than be cooped up inside. I’d encourage people to make a day of it by spending time in the showground and combining it with a trip on the train – it’s slightly cheaper if you buy a ticket to do both.

“With the train service operating until 11 pm, this offers the opportunity to avoid the August Bank Holiday traffic by taking the train from Swanage up to the Norden showground, and returning in the evening after the live music performances in the beer tent.

“Also those wishing to visit Swanage can park at Norden, visit the show and then get the train to the beach. Not forgetting the chance to stop at Corfe Castle as well!”

A traditional steam roller used to build roads

Queue to visit the cab of Eddystone

The queue to stand in the cab of the newly restored steam engine Eddystone, started even before the event officially opened

“I think it’s really brilliant”

Swanage Railway passenger services director Trevor Parsons said:

“I think it’s really brilliant and great to see the younger members of the Swanage Railway management team taking on the organisation of this event – full marks to them!

“It’s been a tough time for Swanage Railway but we’ve had very encouraging numbers on the trains over the summer. Now with this event, things are looking more promising!”

Steam rollers
Steam roller stops in Wareham
Neil Johnston

Some of the steam engines drove to the showground in Norden. This one stopped off at the Co-op in Wareham’s North Street on the way!

£5 for adults and children free

A combined train ride from Swanage to Norden and return – with entry to the steam rally showground – is £20 for adults, £8.50 for children aged five to 15 and £53 for a family of two adults and three children.

Entry to the steam showground only is £5 for adults with children under the age of 16 free. Evening entry to the showground from 6 pm is £5 for adults with children under the age of 16 free.

Day parking at the steam rally is £3.50 per car. The postcode for the Roads to Rail event location, opposite Norden station, is BH20 5DW.

Further information

More about the ‘Roads to Rail’ event can be found on the Swanage Railway website

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