Welcome to Swanage Army Link.

The Swanage Army Link is a dynamic association that has evolved over nearly 30 years between the Swanage Railway, the British Army, the People of Swanage and the Royal British Legion.

Regular ongoing visits by the Royal Corps of Signals soldiers are core to this Link, as is Team Herston, formed in 2007, bringing together local residents and ex soldiers who work regularly on our core project – the upkeep of Herston Halt.

More recently we have been proud to welcome Heroes Haven into the fold.

Want to know more? See About the Army Link .


Heroes Haven Donations

If you would like to make a donation to the Heroes Haven, please visit their site http://www.heroes-haven.org.uk (opens in a new window) and click on the 'Donate' link in the top right of the page.

Please enter SWCP as the reference.

TOPHAM HATT - April 2013

Over the weekend of 13th/14th April 2013, once again soldiers from Blandford were at Herston Halt to assist with the continuing work at the site.

Read more: TOPHAM HATT - April 2013

July Team Herston

The next Team Herston is due to take place over the weekend of 14th July.

However, with so much going on, it has been decided that it will be a 'social' event rather than a working weekend!

It starts on Friday 13th at 12:24 when Frank Roberts will be carrying the Olympic torch.

That will be followed on Saturday by all of the Swanage Olympic torchbearers along with 100 soldiers from 3 (Harrogate) Squadron taking part in the Swanage Half Marathon. Please gather on the seafront at midday for a photo-shoot of all taking part.

Please come along and support the Marathon entrants and then join us as we visit some of the hostelries around the town!



TH - May 2012

Team Herston / Topham Hatt, Saturday 12th May 2011.

16 members of the Royal Signals led by Sgt Pikendra joined the regulars and semi-regulars, Chris, Dave, Alan, Will, Jules & Paul all under the guiding eye and task-master Frank.

The most important task was to provide lighting for the platform to enable the trains to stop later in the evening. Temporary cabling and portable generators did the job!

Rewiring of the container by Dave, clearing part of the yard, recovering ¼mile of cable from under the platform and dredging the drainage ditch were the main tasks completed over the weekend.

Thelma & Doug did the planting and the tidying of the grounds while Will spent his time travelling up and down the line collecting for Heroes Haven raising an impressive £332 on Friday alone.

The event coincided with the Dorset Beer festival, held at Harman's Cross from 11th-13th. As reward for the effort put in, work finished earlier than usual so everyone could go visit the festival and 'relax'.

Team Herston - 12 May 2012

Team Herston.  Saturday 12th May: I am keen to enrol everyone who is able to come and assist on Swanage Railway on our usual monthly meet next weekend  for WORK and/or drink BEER!!!  There will be the usual 08:30 start on Sat 12 May 12, and soldiers from Blandford will also be attending.

Dave Harvey will arrive a day or two early and will be pushing on with the electrics at the Halt, so if any of the local residents can pop down and say hello & give a hand on Friday, that will be good.
The Diesel Gala is in fact three days long and will commence on Fri morning.  One task we -  collectively - have to do is to ensure there is lighting on the platform for both Friday + Saturday so the trains will stop (for us!) when we come back from the beer tent!

Accommodation.  I am more than willing to put up any folk who would like to come down and stay on the Sat evening.  There's a couple of camp beds, and lots of carpet, or grass next to my house if you want to bring a tent!

Liberty of Swanage

By 1996 Major Bob Brannigan, who was the Second in Command of 11th Signal Regiment, and Warrant Officer 2 Frank Roberts had been working with the Ministry of Defence to secure the future of Exercise Topham Hatt. Confirmation of this was received in 1997 and during the summer two hundred soldiers from Kohema Troop in Blandford visited the Railway and were supervised by a stream of Officer Cadets from Southampton University Officer Training Corps.

Part of the new authority for the Exercise directed that soldiers should only undertake work that they were trained in or basic DIY tasks.

Herston Halt was not one of the original stations on the Swanage Railway, and its construction in 1984 from second hand materials was by 1997 showing signs of wear. The situation had become so bad that there were even thoughts that the little used facility one mile out of Swanage would be closed for good. It was agreed that visiting soldiers should refurbish the passenger facilities and most military visits worked in support of the Halt, and the adjacent stores area known as Herston Bank for the next few years.

With the twentieth anniversary of the first exercise looming, a decision was made to remove the increasingly risky access to the Halt which saw passengers negotiate two stiles, many steps and two railway lines. In March 2004, as the new Disabled Discrimination Act regulations were looming, a new 30 metre long access ramp and set of steps were installed on the northern side of the station.

One Saturday in May 2004 a team of soldiers working at Herston were visited by Mr Joe Clark who was so impressed by the task being undertaken, that he contacted a number of people across the town with a view to ensuring that twenty years of military support for the town and its Railway were indeed recognised.

Later that year the Liberty of the Town was formally offered to 11th Signal Regiment by the Swanage Town Council and in July 2004 the Regiment Paraded through the town with the band of the Royal Corps of Signals playing, swords drawn, and bayonets fixed.


Topham Hatt - April 2011

Ex Topham Hatt for April took place over the weekend of 9th & 10th of April.

Alan has provided a complete report which you can read below.

Topham Hatt team

Read more: Topham Hatt - April 2011


Swanage Army Link is supported and supports the following organisations and people: