SWANAGE Railway will be celebrating the 35th anniversary of its first ever passenger train with a special gala taking place this weekend.

Back in 1979 an industrial diesel shunter and a half-painted coach ran on a few hundred yards of hand laid track.

Three-and-a-half decades later, more than 200,000 passengers travel through the Purbeck countryside every year in a variety of restored diesel and steam trains.

The commemorative ‘Swanage 35’ gala, on Saturday and Sunday takes place over the railway’s five-and-a-half miles of re-laid line.

Steam enthusiasts will also have the chance to travel on service trains hauled by the scratch built A1 Pacific steam locomotive ‘Tornado’ during the two-day event The special weekend gala will also feature the Purbeck line’s home fleet of locomotives.

Swanage Railway Trust chairman Gavin Johns said: “The old proverb ‘great oaks from little acorns grow’ fits the Swanage Railway well.

“Our volunteers have nurtured over 35 years their initial dream, into the railway that we can see and experience today.

“There is more work to be done in the future, but the ‘Swanage 35’ gala weekend is a special and an opportunity to say thank you for work done well.”