Swanage : Chineland
Saturday 18th November 2017

Swanage

Although not part of the ‘Chineland’ coastal area, Swanage is only a short distance away via the Sandbanks ferry and offers access to the stunning views and walks along the Jurassic coast originating from Durlston Country Park.

The-Great-Globe

The Great Globe at Durlston

Swanage is situated at the eastern end of the Jurassic Coast on the Isle Of Purbeck. Originally a small port and fishing village it later became a significant quarrying port and later still a seaside resort for the rich of the day. During its quarrying days Purbeck limestone was extensively quarried with several sites to the south west showing evidence of former quarries, particularly Tilly Whim Caves and Dancing Ledge, a man made rock shelf used for loading ships. Natural erosion has formed stacks along the coast at the end of the northern headland, in particular the notable Old Harry Rocks. Fossils from the dinosaur age have been discovered in the local rock and the coastline up to and including Swanage Bay has been included in the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site.

The idea that Swanage could become a tourist destination was first encouraged by a local MP William Morton Pitt in the early 19th century, who converted a mansion in the town into a luxury hotel. The hotel is noted for having been visited in 1833 by the (then) Princess Victoria, later to become queen. The building was later renamed the Royal Victoria Hotel and indeed the town’s greatest prominence came during the Victorian period.

Swanage-Railway-&-Corfe-Cas

Swanage Railway & Corfe Castle

The railways were introduced to the town in 1885 with the encouragement of George Burt by the London and South Western Railway Company. By this time the town was becoming a popular resort destination for the wealthy, noted for its fine weather and clean air. The town previously had been fairly cut off due to its valley location, but the introduction of the railway made the town much more accessible to visitors, with direct services running from London. However the greatest increase in visitors came with the building of the second ‘new’ pier in 1895, built primarily for use by pleasure steamers.

Corfe-castle-(2)

Corfe Castle & Village (from a 1933 Alvis)

The town enjoyed several decades quietly being successful as a seaside resort but during the Second World War gun emplacements and pillboxes were built at spots along the shoreline at the southern end of the bay that can still be seen to this day. After the Second World War the town, like many other seaside resorts and indeed the country at large, suffered a recession with few people able to spare the money for holidaying. In 1972 the Swanage branch line of the railway was closed by British Rail as part of larger network-wide cutbacks. A group of local enthusiasts formed a charitable organisation with the purpose of restoring and preserving the branch line and steam and diesel locomotives to run along it, forming the Swanage Railway – a popular local attraction. Besides the railway, there are other local attractions including the beach of course and the Victorian pier. The town may also be used as a base from which to visit other nearby areas of interest, such as Durlston Country Park and nearby Corfe Castle.

Studland-beach

Studland Beach

New Year’s Eve has traditionally been a big event for Swanage, with people dressing up in humorous fancy dress costumes. Today the town remains a popular tourist resort with many thousands of visitors coming during the peak summer season, drawn by the bay’s sandy beaches and other attractions. Access to the town is via Wareham or the Sandbanks Ferry.

Courtesy Wikipedia
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