A COLLECTION of Victorian drawings detailing the history of the railway in Purbeck has been donated to the Swanage Railway Trust.

The historic book of land surveyor's drawings, which reveal how the branch line from Wareham to Corfe Castle and Swanage was built between 1883-85, has been donated by the Isle of Wight Steam Railway.

This large 45-page collections, called 'Terrier of the Swanage Railway', was printed and bound for the London and South Western Railway Company in 1889.

Terrier is an old English legal term for a register of land.

Swanage Railway Trust chairman Gavin Johns said: "We are very grateful to the Isle of Wight Steam Railway for its very kind and significant gift which is a great visual record – a thrilling and startling time capsule that takes you back to the early 1880s to see the route of the branch line through the Isle of Purbeck before and after.

“The book details the land that had to be purchased so the Swanage branch line could be built – from whom, at what cost and under what terms – thanks to the construction of cuttings, embankments, bridges and farm crossings.”

Excluding the rails, the ten-mile railway cost £76,646 to build. That is the equivalent of more than £9 million in today’s money.

London contractors Curry & Reeves of Westminster starting work south of Wareham as well as at Corfe Castle and Swanage in May, 1883.

The completed single track branch line opened to traffic, two years later, in May, 1885.

More than 30 bridges and culverts had to be constructed, along with a dozen embankments and eleven cuttings, including a three-arched viaduct of Purbeck stone at Corfe Castle where a cutting had to be dug through the chalk rock.

Roger Silsbury, of the Isle of Wight Steam Railway, said: “I was delighted to hand over a document of such fundamental interest to the Swanage Railway Museum because the book is now in its rightful home.

“I am delighted at the close co-operation between our two volunteer-run heritage railways and I hope that this will continue for many years to come.

"The book had been previously donated to the Isle of Wight Steam Railway.

Chris Morgan, the Swanage Railway Trust’s Museum's manager, said: “The kind donation of such a unique and remarkable book, showing how the building of the railway changed the landscape in the 1880s, is an exciting and important addition to the Swanage Railway Museum's collection.

Swanage Railway Trust’s Museum at Corfe Castle opens from 10am-5pm when trains are running.