HISTORY will be made this week, with the first diesel locomotive to haul a passenger train from London to Swanage since 1966.

A special four-carriage ‘Purbeck Explorer’ charter train is set to bring visitors from the capital into Purbeck for Swanage Railway’s annual three-day diesel gala and beer festival.

It will be hauled through Corfe Castle down to Swanage by the 1960-built former British Railways Class 33 diesel-electronic locomotive No.D6515 ‘Lt Jenny Lewis RN’.

The carriages will be made up of a former British Rail Southern Region ‘4TC’ set converted in York during 1966.

Swanage Railway Company chairman Trevor Parsons said: “The Purbeck Explorer will revive the excitement of travelling from the capital to the coast in a 4TC carriage set hauled by a British Rail Southern Region Class 33 diesel locomotive.

“Class 33 diesel locomotives first hauled ‘bucket and spade’ trains from London down to Corfe Castle and Swanage in the summer of 1963 and continued to do so until the end of the summer of 1966.

“With the London to Bournemouth electrification ousting steam in 1967 – and the new diesel service between Bournemouth and Weymouth – Class 33 locomotives hauled 4TC carriage sets from London to Swanage from July, 1967, until British Rail ceased trains from the capital to Swanage in October, 1969.”

The charter service will leave London’s Ealing Broadway at 10am on Thursday, May 10, arriving in Swanage just before 4pm.

It returns to London – hauled by heritage Class 20 diesel locomotives No. 20 007 and No. 20 142 – on Sunday, May 13.

The London to Swanage special arrives the day before the start of the Swanage Railway’s Diesel Gala and Beer Festival, which starts on Friday, May 11.

This year’s Swanage Railway Diesel Gala and Beer Festival will see heritage diesel locomotives operate an intensive passenger train service between Swanage, Harman’s Cross, Corfe Castle and Norden on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday – with some trains operating through to Wareham.

The beer festival is based at Corfe Castle station.