On a family holiday in Dorset last week, there was still scope for a little bit of narrow gauge. The preserved Swanage Railway, an ex-Southern branch line, runs from the seaside at Swanage to Corfe Castle and Norden where there is a park and ride facility, and the beginnings of a narrow gauge mining museum.
Ball clay mining used to be a major industry on the Isle of Purbeck and there are still many traces of it left. Some are being gathered at Norden, previously known as Eldon’s Siding, where there was a transhipment point between the Swanage branch and the 3′ 9″ gauge (later 2′) Fayle’s Tramway.
The main feature, still under construction, is a processing works which has been carefully moved to the site, the intention is to have a working demonstration of a clay mine here.
There is also a good selection of wagons of various types and gauges, including an original Fayles vehicle with sledge brake of that unusual 3′ 9″ gauge.
The majority of stock is the more modern 2′ gauge which replaced it, including some originally used at Norden which have spent time at the Seaton Tramway in Devon and some with interesting additions (gained from spending 30 years in an orchard).
Although it looks like early days as yet, I hope there will be more to see next time I visit Purbeck.