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With grateful thanks to owners Southern Locomotives Limited and the Swanage Railway, we are delighted to be able to offer a full day of photography at the Swanage Railway featuring streamlined British Railways (Southern Region) Bulleid Pacific No.34072 257 Squadron hauling a rake five green coaches and also for part of the day a PMV (Parcels and Miscellaneous Van). The locomotive will face South throughout the day and we will have use of the whole line between Swanage and Wareham. We will start from Harman's Cross at 06.45 hours so as to be in position to capture the sunrise shots, weather permitting.
No.34072 emerged from Brighton Works in April 1948 in the first year of British Railways. It worked the Continental Boat Trains to London while based at Dover as well as appearing on local services. When Southern Region electrification began, many steam locos were transferred to other areas, with No.34072 being reallocated to Exmouth Junction where it remained until June 1964. Its final allocation was to Eastleigh shed from where it was withdrawn on 25th October the same year.
Like so many other engines at that time, 257 Squadron was sent to Woodham Brothers' scrap yard at Barry in South Wales, arriving there in February 1965. It was 1984 before a group then restoring rebuilt "Merchant Navy' Pacific Port Line rescued 257 Squadron for preservation. The loco was transferred to Swindon Works, then under the management of Tarmac who offered the group an interest-free loan, repayable over five years once the loco was back in traffic and earning steaming fees, to restore 34072 to working order in time for September 1990 to coincide with the fiftieth anniversary of the Battle of Britain. The restoration team faced many difficulties in achieving this goal working against a very tight schedule, though on 8th September 1990, 257 Squadron arrived at Folkestone under its own steam ready for a formal naming and re-commissioning ceremony by Air Commodore Peter Brothers, formerly of 257 Squadron.
After short operational spells on several heritage lines, No.34072 settled at the Swanage Railway where it worked until serious firebox problems forced withdrawal for overhaul in 2003. The locomotive worked for twelve years and four months continuously which remains a preservation standard gauge record. The loco had to take its place in the restoration queue but overhaul, including extensive boiler repairs, began in 2012 and the Pacific steamed again in 2017.
The original Swanage Railway opened in May 1885 and was operated by the London & South Western Railway, later the Southern Railway, then the Southern Region of British Railways. Passenger services ceased in 1972 though goods traffic continued from Furzebrook sidings. In May 1972, the Swanage Railway Society was formed to try and resurrect passenger services on the line. This proved no easy task as BR began lifting the track and there were plans to redevelop Swanage station. However, after a struggle over many years, the group obtained charitable status and the first short section of track was re-opened in 1979, with extensions to new stations at Herston Halt and, in 1988, to Harman's Cross. Gradually, further extensions to Corfe Castle and Norden (Park and Ride) opened and then, initially on a trial basis, to Wareham in 2017.
The Swanage branch is a very scenic line where many opportunities exist for both lineside photography and steam in the landscape, so why not join us for a full day of Sputhern steam action on the Dorset Coast.