Swanage Railway steam rally gains traction

Now in its fourth year, the Roads to Rail steam rally is to take place near Corfe Castle in Dorset and looks likely to be bigger and better for 2024.

First conceived in the midst of the Covid pandemic in 2021, when few events were happening and operating train trips was challenging, the original Swanage Railway Roads to Rail rally took place in a field next to Norden station, in August of that year.

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Roads to Rail Swanage Railway steam rally Norden near Corfe Castle
Andrew PM wright

Not many steam rallies can accommodate locomotives!

“Steam vehicles alongside steam locomotives”

With outdoor gatherings allowed and a fresh Purbeck breeze blowing through the valley, the steam rally in 2021 was well attended, providing some consolation to enthusiasts after the cancellation of the Great Dorset Steam Fair near Blandford Forum.

Now the Swanage Railway Roads to Rail three day event, which takes place from Friday 28th to Sunday 30th June 2024, has become established and will feature up to 50 traction and miniature engines, steam rollers and showman’s engines, as well as fairground rides, trade stalls, food stalls, bar and live music.

It also provides a unique opportunity to see steam vehicles alongside steam locomotives, with the showground running alongside the railway track at Norden station.

A special intensive steam train service between Norden, Corfe Castle and Swanage will be operating during the event – including a special evening heritage diesel service on the Friday and Saturday evenings.

Roads to Rail Swanage Railway steam rally Norden near Corfe Castle
Andrew PM wright

From the showground there’s a great view of the ruins of Corfe Castle

Roads to Rail Swanage Railway steam rally Norden near Corfe Castle
Andrew PM wright

Chance to visit the footplate of a steam loco

“Going from strength to strength”

Swanage Railway Company commercial director Robert Patterson said:

“We’re very proud to be hosting our fourth ‘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 ‘Roads to Rail’ event was incredibly successful and this year more than a hundred exhibitors have confirmed their attendance at the event featuring 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 steam rally 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 steam rally 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 Swanage Railway steam rally Norden near Corfe Castle
Andrew PM wright

The event lasts into the evening and includes live music

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

Plenty of space to pitch a tent

Stay overnight

There’s even the option to stay for the whole three days with camping pitches available to book in a field close to Norden station.

One of the event’s organisers, Patrick Cattle who lives in Swanage, said:

“We would like to thank our generous sponsors and advertisers for their important help in staging this year’s ‘Roads to Rail’ event which will be even better and takes place within sight of the dramatic ruins of Corfe Castle.”

The ‘Roads to Rail’ event sponsors this year are Suttles Quarries, Humphries Kirk solicitors, City Cruises, Collett agricultural engineers and welding fabricators, Swanage Holiday Properties, Bridport Foundry, Care Purbeck, Miles and Son estate agents and Jurassic Care.

Queue to visit the cab of Eddystone

Queueing to visit the footplate

Funfair

Since 2021, the event has taken off!

Further information

  • A combined train ride from Swanage to Norden and return – with entry to the steam rally show ground – is £26 for adults, £14 for children aged five to 15, and £75 for a family of two adults and three children
  • Entry to the showground only is £8.50 for adults, with free entry for children under the age of 16
  • Evening entry to the showground from 6 pm is £5 for adults, with free entry for children under the age of 16
  • Day parking at the steam rally is free
  • More about the Roads to Rail steam rally, as well as camping bookings, is on its website
  • To sponsor the event, or advertise their business at the show ground email roadstorail@swanagerailway.co.uk

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