Two men who started the battle to rebuild a heritage railway line as students have returned 50 years later to lay flowers at a memorial to generations of railway volunteers.
Andrew Goltz and John Sloboda, the sons of Polish immigrants, were 22-year old railway enthusiasts when they travelled from London to a disused station in the village of Corfe Castle, Dorset in 1972 and walked along the abandoned and rusting tracks just weeks before they were lifted by demolition contractors working for British Rail (BR).
The pair decided to form the Swanage Railway Society to re-open the 10-mile branch line from Wareham after it had been controversially closed by BR in January 1972.
A few weeks after the Society was formed, BR lifted the tracks for scrap, which led to a four-year battle to rebuild the line and relay the tracks so that steam trains could be returned to the Isle of Purbeck.
Andrew Goltz said: “With the castle ruins rising above, Corfe Castle station had a powerful magic and I remember walking along the rusting tracks on that warm early summer day with John saying the memorable words: ‘This is all too attractive to be allowed to be swept away for a Corfe Castle by-pass. We have to save it.’”
John said: “It has been very emotional to see the difference between what we saw in 1972 and what we admire today which is a vibrant and loved working railway to which many people have given the best part of their lives to make the success that it is today.”
Swanage Railway Trust chairman Gavin Johns said: “It was very moving to meet Andrew Goltz and John Sloboda because without them – and the other volunteers they recruited to their campaign 50 years ago – there would not be the Swanage Railway that so many people enjoy which contributes £15 million a year to the local economy.”
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