BUMPER crowds flocked to Purbeck at the weekend for the 14th Swanage Railway Diesel Gala and Dorset Beer Festival.

Eight diesel locomotives, which helped tell the story of Britain’s railways during the transition from steam to diesel in the 1960s, featured in the three-day event, which finished on Sunday.

For the first time in the gala's history, an hourly train service along the whole length of the nine-mile Swanage Railway – from Swanage to the River Frome, within sight of Wareham and a half a mile short of the London to Weymouth main line – took place this year.

Heritage diesel trains ran from 9am until 11.30pm on the Friday and Saturday and 9am until 7pm on the Sunday.

There were even ‘Beerex’ buffet coach trains, which proved particularly popular, operating on the Friday and Saturday evenings.

Swanage Railway director Mark Woolley, told the Daily Echo: "It has gone really well, it has been very successful and all the guest locomotives have run.

"The good weather has helped, this year we didn't have a service to Wareham, we had the bus service in place.

"It has been a very good weekend."

A restored 1960s Hants & Dorset red Bristol FLF bus ran special daytime services for diesel gala ticket holders between Wareham and Norden on all three days.

Meanwhile, the visiting heritage diesel locomotives included a Class 25 No. D7535 (No. 25 185) and Class 26 No. 26 007, which will be staying on Swanage Railway until early September.

Other visitors included a Class 31 No. 97205 (No. 31 163), Class 44 No. D4 ‘Great Gable’ (No. 44 004) Class 50 No. 50 007 ‘Hercules’ and 1985-built Class 59 No. 59 003 ‘Yeoman Highlander’.

At Corfe Castle station, visitors were be able to view the ex-British Rail 4TC carriage No. 76275, which ran on trains between Bournemouth and Weymouth from the end of steam trains in 1967 to the electrification between Poole and Weymouth in 1988.

Swanage Railway business division director Mick Gould said: “The Class 33/1 Preservation Group Limited’s British Rail blue-liveried Class 33 No. 33 111 made history when it was the last Class 33 diesel locomotive to haul a 4TC ‘push-pull’ carriage set from Wareham to Corfe Castle and Swanage in September, 1971, on a special train staged by railway enthusiasts from Poole Grammar School."