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The Swanage Railway: on the trail of Enid Blyton

Posted by Luci Ackers on 17 March 2015
Related property: Langton House
The Swanage Railway

As is well known, Enid Blyton was one of Great Britain’s most prolific and widely-read children’s authors. Born in London and largely raised in the capital and the Home Counties, she was drawn every summer to Dorset, in particular to the Isle of Purbeck, which she fictionalised and made the setting for her most acclaimed collection of novels: the Famous Five series.

Corfe Castle was, famously, recast as Kirrin Castle in Blyton’s first Famous Five book, Five on a Treasure Island. But it was only after (or during) repeated journeys on the Swanage Railway that inspiration struck.

Running between Wareham and Swanage, the Swanage Railway was opened in 1885 to carry both passengers and freight between the two towns, peaking (passenger-wise) in 1931 thanks to the burgeoning popularity of seaside resort holidays. Thereafter the story was one of slow but steady decline, culminating in the closure of the Swanage Railway to passengers in 1972.

However, a combination of enthusiasm for rail travel and hard-headed business economics saw the line reopened, with a year-round community railway service subsidised by the operation of steam-driven ‘heritage’ trains during holiday periods.

Today, the preserved steam and diesel engines take passengers on a memorable journey through 9½ miles of beautiful Purbeck countryside which includes stunning views of Corfe Castle. The trains stop at a couple of little stations between Swanage and Wareham, giving you the opportunity to explore the historic villages, or alight for country walks along the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site.

The Swanage Railway offers a number of different events throughout the year such as rallies, galas, and various Christmas Specials; or regular dining experiences that suit any occasion and budget. You can enjoy anything from cream teas to Sunday lunch on board an old-style railway carriage pulled by one of these beautiful engines, while you watch the countryside roll by – as Enid must have done, while dreaming up her masterwork. There is even the opportunity for a driving experience where you can take the controls, under the supervision of the experienced staff members.

Take a look at all that is on offer, and check times and prices here.

 

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Luci Ackers

Luci Ackers

Luci loves getting out and about for a good cycle ride or easy-going walks in the countryside, and thoroughly enjoyed the time she previously spent working for the National Trust. Her love of writing started from a young age and on rainy days nothing beats curling up in a secret corner with a good book.

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