Audio recordings from Swanage branch line staff and passengers in the 1950s and 1960s, will transport visitors back in time, after the museum was awarded grant funding to improve the visitor experience.
The Swanage Railway Museum is in an old goods shed at Corfe Castle Station and tells the story of the Swanage branch line from the 1880s.
Swanage Railway Museum volunteer Jeff Anderson
Audio from a bygone era
The National Lottery Heritage Fund has awarded a grant of £23,700 for the museum to create pods where people can listen to the audio from a bygone era, alongside the sound of a typical train station in the 1950s.
The money will also be used to improve the front of house facilities at the museum so that visitors can talk to staff about the Swanage Railway’s history and access the archives.
In a separate grant, The South West Museum Development Programme has given a grant of £4,000, which will pay for professional management advice and mentoring to the volunteer museum staff during the project.
Swanage Railway Museum volunteer Colin Stone
“Much appreciated investment“
Swanage Railway Trust chairman and volunteer signalman Gavin Johns said:
“Thanks to players in the National Lottery, this much appreciated investment will allow our museum to begin a transformation to an even more inclusive and interactive space…
“I would like to thank everyone who has played a part in the success of this grant application, which has been a huge and detailed collective effort, and one in which we can all take great pride.”
Swanage Railway Museum volunteer Heather Denning
The museum had 48,000 visitors in 2019
The museum, which is free to visit, attracted 48,000 visitors in the year before the 2020 coronavirus pandemic and has been largely funded by public donations.
It tells the chequered history of the Swanage branch line, from its opening in 1885, through to its closure in 1972, its reopening as a heritage line in the 1980s and most recently, its reconnection to the main line in 2014.
Swanage Railway Museum volunteer Jim Tudor
Closed for most of 2020
The museum was closed for most of 2020 due to Covid restrictions but was eventually reopened in May 2021 with a limited number of visitors at any one time and a one way system.
It’s a popular stop off as part of a rail journey and is usually open 10.30 am to 4.30 pm on days when trains are operational. The museum is currently closed for the winter but is expected to reopen in spring 2022.
Swanage Railway Museum volunteers adjust the displays