SWANAGE: AN ILLUSTRATED HISTORY by Jason Tomes
For the 150th book about Dorset in its half century of local publishing the Dovecote Press has published a long overdue illustrated history of Swanage.
Despite considerable recent changes, nothing new has been written about Swanage this century. The author, Jason Tomes, was born in the town and remains a regular visitor. The result is a fresh, occasionally controversial, and often surprising account of a town whose character mixes the unexpected with the classic ingredients of the bucket-and-spade holiday resort largely dependent on tourism.
Purbeck stone had been quarried locally since medieval times, and its various trades had long dominated the lives of most inhabitants of Swanage. Attempts to promote it a health resort had little success, but the arrival of the railway in 1885 put the town firmly on the map, hastening its transformation into a popular seaside resort.
If two men, John Mowlem and George Burt, can be said to have shaped Victorian Swanage, its more recent history has been determined by other concerns: two World Wars, employment, housing, its attractions for retirement, the loss of the railway. Despite the changes, Swanage retains a sense of community and feisty independence few other towns can match.
Large format paperback, 270 x 230 mms, 208 pages + 16 pages colour plates