Heritage railway focuses on future after losing millions during pandemic

Drone footage above the foundations of the new Herston shed site. Credit: Swanage Railway

After a hugely difficult year in which they lost £2 million in revenue, the Swanage Railway in Dorset is determined to focus on the future.

When lockdown began last year the heritage railway was part-way through a project to build much-needed sheds for their historic carriages.

Work on the foundations was completed last year Credit: Andrew PM Wright

The project was put on hold after passenger numbers slumped by 58,000 in 2020, meaning much- needed revenue was not available. The charity was only able to survive by raising an impressive £360,000 for the Swanage Railway's Save our Service Appeal.

Fund-raising chairman Randy Coldham thanked everyone for their generosity for what he called a 'marvellous achievement':

Now though, with re-opening very much in their sights, they've re-launched a campaign to raise the £65,000 needed to complete the Herston shed build.

Before the work had to stop last year, contractors had managed to complete the foundations for the steel structure that will span two tracks and be capable of storing ten carriages – including the Swanage Railway’s historic heritage carriages.

Artist's impression of the finished shed Credit: Kevin Williamson

Randy told us: “This appeal is for a critical project to protect our historically important heritage carriages, the oldest of which date from the 1930s.

"Keeping ten carriages under cover in a dedicated storage shed will protect the vehicles from the weather and also reduce the costs of maintaining the carriages.

 “We are hopeful that the public will help us to close the funding gap and allow the carriage shed to be completed by the start of 2022 so it can protect some of our historic carriages from the ravages of winter weather.”

The Swanage Railway is due to re-open to the public on April 12th.

For more details on the appeal click here.