Having been to various railways over recent years a visit to nearby family gave me chance to head for an area much less frequently visited: The Southern region.
I have not hidden from the fact that in engines, railways and in operations I have looked for excellence and normally found it more frequently elsewhere. While Southern railways did push the idea of 3rd rail and commuter traffic, other areas such as steam locomotive development I have thought were lacking. Nevertheless, this visit would be a chance to be in different surroundings and enjoy the chance to see things bit that different. Instead of me bemoaning Southern engines like Repton and the S15 up north, this time I was the one off region and my preconceptions were side-lined. Here I was to be amongst, enjoy and immures myself in all things Southern.
I arrived at Corfe Castle. The area is very scenic and perhaps the jewel in the crown of the Swanage railway. The Castle forming a gorgeous and almost idyllic backdrop. The station here is very well kept, the staff very helpful and friendly and the goods shed had a nice display on the railway. I spent most of the day in and around the station, while walking to other areas that could post a more landscape picture. Given the service much of this was possible in between trains even if the service on the line was frequent and at well-spaced regular intervals. The morning saw me take a journey to Swanage and see one of the trains arriving there. On the line was Battle of Britain class No. 34027 257 Squadron and BR Standard 4MT No. 80104. The pair put in some good performances even if the heat removed a lot of steam. Firing on the line was done well so that there was good control over exhaust too. While the line is not that steep, nor that difficult it does have some nice views over the countryside. The campsites nearby were all busy and at Corfe throughout the day there was a steady stream of people getting the train while enjoying the well kept and pleasant station, its LSWR building, signal box and canopy all framing the engines matching green stock.
I had time to check the area around Corfe, the Greyhound having a good pint as well as kindly offering to fill up bottles of water for those needing a drink in the hot summer sun.
There were several nice vantage points as I framed a lot around Corfe station but having been entertained and enjoyed a day out in different surroundings it was time to head north to the closest thing resembling my understanding of excellence – so I pointed the bonnet of my car back north and the next day headed for – the Western Region!