VOLUNTEERS of a rail museum are celebrating after receiving more than £25,000 in grants to begin a “transformation” for visitors.

The Swanage Railway Museum at Corfe Castle station has benefitted from two grants, totalling £27,000, which will be used to create an audio mirage of the 1950s and improve general facilities.

Attracting 48,000 visitors a year before the pandemic, the free admission museum – established in the goods shed of the restored Victorian station in 2000 – tells the story of the Swanage branch line from the 1880s.

Operated by the Swanage Railway Trust registered charity, the museum has been largely funded by public donations.

The National Lottery Heritage Fund awarded a grant of £23,700 for the museum to create audio pods so visitors can enjoy a typical 1950s branch line station ‘sound scene’ and listen to recordings of evocative memories from Swanage branch line staff and passengers during the 1950s and 60s.

The money will also be used to improve front of house facilities at the museum.

Bournemouth Echo: Swanage Railway Museum volunteers. Picture: Andrew PM WrightSwanage Railway Museum volunteers. Picture: Andrew PM Wright

In addition, the South West Museum Development Programme granted the Swanage Railway Trust museum £4,000 to pay for professional management advice and mentoring to the volunteer museum staff during the project.

Swanage Railway Trust chairman and volunteer Gavin Johns said: “Thanks to players in the National Lottery, this much appreciated investment will allow our museum to begin a transformation to an even more inclusive and interactive space in which visitors, of all ages, can learn about the social and economic effects on the Isle of Purbeck of the Victorian Swanage branch line.

“I would like to thank everyone who has played a part in the success of this grant application which has been a huge and detailed collective effort – one in which we can all take great pride.”

Swanage Railway carried more than 200,000 passengers during 2019 and the trust says it boosts the Purbeck economy by more than £15 million a year.

Those interested in joining the approximate 450 volunteers at the railway can email iwanttovolunteer@swanagerailway.co.uk for more information.