Corfe Castle Station

Dorset, United Kingdom | C.1885

Photo Credit: Simon and Jennifer Darr

The village of Corfe Castle lies at the center of a peninsula in England’s Dorset County. In the nineteenth century, the area became known for its ball clay—a rare and versatile material used to make everything from tableware to pharmaceuticals to toilet bowls and tanks.

The clay and Purbeck marble, quarried nearby, attracted the interest of railway companies, and the Swanage Railway opened in 1885. A small station was built in Corfe Castle. However, in 1972, after the collapse of the clay and marble industries, British Rail closed the line and ripped up the tracks.

The village banded together to launch a campaign to save and reopen the track—if for nothing else than as a heritage railway. Over the course of decades, volunteers worked to rebuild every meter of the 5.5-mile stretch to Swanage.

The station itself was painstakingly recreated in the style of the 1950s, with original wooden floors, coal fires, and a free railway museum describing the station’s story of persistence and triumph. After a trial service in June 2017, the heritage line was reconnected to the rail station in Wareham, and steam trains run to Corfe Castle every day from April to October.

Nearly six hundred volunteers keep the railway going, with hopes that one day it will be connected with regular service to the whole UK network.

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