Swanage in Dorset, is a small popular seaside resort, with a beautiful setting facing east to Swanage Bay in the Purbeck Hills, between Ballard Down and Peveril Point. The golden sandy beach has been given European Blue Flag status. The bathing is safe in the shallow waters of Swanage Bay and close by is Studland, which has a four mile slightly rugged beach. There are lovely cliff walks over Ballard Down to the chalk stacks of Old Harry Rocks, or west to Durlston Head on this section of the Jurassic Coast. There is good road access to Corfe Castle and Wareham, or by using the Sandbanks Chain Ferry across Poole Harbour, Sandbanks, Poole and Bournemouth can be easily reached.
Swanage became very popular in the Victorian period, especially when the railway arrived there in 1885 and brought wealthy visitors direct from London. The branch line was closed in 1972 as part of a national cut-back of the railway system. The line has now been restored by enthusiasts and operates a regular heritage steam train service over the six miles to Swanage from Corfe, through the beautiful Purbeck countryside.
John Mowlem and his nephew, George Burt, were two Victorians who were both influential in the development of the town. John Mowlem lived in Swanage and in 1822, founded what was to become one of the largest U.K. civil engineering companies, Mowlem Construction Company. Major projects included the construction of the Natwest Tower (Tower 42) in 1979, London City Airport in 1986, Docklands Light Railway in 1987 and the Spinnaker Tower, Portsmouth in 2005. The company was sold to Carillion in 2006. John Mowlem made money by importing stone into London, including Purbeck limestone. Relics and monuments were brought from London. The Clock Tower, commemorating the Duke of Wellington, originally stood at the end of the old London Bridge. It was re-erected in Swanage in 1867/8. The Mowlem Centre on the seafront, is named after him.