Title: Lesser Known Swanage
Author: Julie Musk
RRP: £9.99
Publication date: 1 March 2014 (Revised Edition) 
Format: Paperback, 234 x 156 mm
Number of pages: 144
Illustrations:  78
Maps:  7

ISBN: 978-1-906651-03-9

Please CLICK HERE for ordering options

Want a different perspective on Swanage?
Rather like having your own personal guide, this book offers a close-up view of Swanage -- past and present. Packed with surprising facts and stories, with walks suitable for all ages, it will inspire you to explore the town and show you what many visitors and even residents tend to miss. Quotes from local people give a unique insight. Families and young people will especially enjoy the imaginative style and quizzes. An essential read and practical guide for anyone who wants to fully appreciate this friendly seaside town with its wealth of hidden gems.

Local Interest … What’s unusual about the houses in Jubilee Square?
Local People … What didn’t George Burt filch from London?
Intrigue … Which pavement has a ghostly tale to tell?
Nature … Where’s the best place to see puffins and dolphins?
Local History … How did Swanage deal with its rowdy youth?
Practical … What gets a thumbs up from kids and a wag from the dog?

Lesser Known Swanage aims to bring Swanage places and people alive. It also supports local people, businesses and organisations, highlighting what’s on offer to locals and visitors alike. 

 What reviewers have said:
This book tells the story through all the people that make Swanage such a friendly, welcoming place: we actually meet the volunteer lifeboatmen and coastwatch teams, the incredible people who restored and now run the local steam railway service to Corfe Castle, the local fishermen and - unusually - all the enterprising, ingenious, creative people who produce special Purbeck produce. This is not at the expense of the main points of interest. The fossils and dinosaur footprints discovered in this internationally renowned geological corner of Britain; the freshwater limestone Purbeck `marble' that decorates most of the cathedrals throughout Britain; the variety of wildlife inhabiting the cliffs and bay, including the dolphins, are all covered. So is `quirky' Swanage: as John Mowlem and his nephew George Burt, founder and successor of the now famous firm Mowlem, repaved London they sent anything of interest back home to adorn their beloved town. Where else would you find a tower built on London Bridge as a memorial to the Duke of Wellington amongst the fishing boats and lobster pots on the shore? What other town hall sports the façade of the Mercers' Hall from Cheapside or protects its pavements with defective cannon uprooted from London streets? Most eccentric of all is George Burt's neo-Gothic castle built at Durlston with its park laid out with a huge stone globe and snippets of information engraved on stone tablets.
Exploring all the town's interesting features forms a substantial section of the book. Simple, clear maps, good use of colour to highlight questions and beautiful photography identifying features make it easy to use on the move. Anyone reading this book, especially those with young families, will want to pack their bags and head down to Swanage to join in the fun.

Jean Sutton, Author & Ret'd Publisher, March 2010
Author of Lords of the East, the East India Company and its Ships (Conway, 1981 and 2000) and The East India Company's Maritime Service 1746-1834: Masters of the Eastern Seas (Boydell, 2010)

A fascinating book about one of Englands loveliest seaside towns.

Although I have been to Swanage many times it's amazing how much I don't know about the place and it's history and how unobservant I have been when walking around ! The walks are all short and easily manageable and keep you informed at all times. The locals seem to know about the book and it gained me access to the Purbeck Hotel to look around the historic rooms and gardens. It's written in an easy to read style and I found that I had almost read it all on the day I got it ! If you love Swanage you'll love this book, but even if you are a first time visitor it means you will get so much more from your visit !

Graeme Neale, Amazon Book Review, 5 November 2009

'I think it is the most interesting book about the town that I have read.'
Lin Dorey, Swanage resident (

 '... even I found out about all sorts of new "lesser known" facts by reading this book'.
David Haysom, Honorary Curator of the Swanage Museum


The Stone Trade
John Mowlem and George Burt – Principal Characters in Swanage’s Development
A Little Lesson in Geology
A Honeycombed Landscape
Cliff Quarrying
Moving the Stone
Life as a Quarryman
Quarrying Today
Learning More
Dry-Stone Walling
Swanage Brickworks
The Sea
Rock-Climbing and Wildlife Surveying
Sailing and Boating
Sea Rowing
The Pier
Trips from Swanage
The Lifeboat Station
The Coastwatch Lookout
The Dorset Coast Forum and World Heritage Site Status
The Railway
The Railway Today
The Station House Shop
The Bird’s Nest and Wessex Belle
Helping the Railway
The Future

The Visitor Centre
Durlston Castle
The Lookout Café
The Globe
Tilly Whim and Howcombe Quarry
The Lighthouse and Round Down
Walking Trails
Local Fare
Purbeck Products
Some Local Producers/Retailers
Folklore and Celebrities
Family Fun and Other Activities
Durlston Country Park
Swanage Railway
Swanage Youth Hostel
Education and Field Study Centres
Where to Hang Out
Bollard Spotting
Fossil Hunting
Mosaics and Tiles: Art for Free!
Swanage Pitch and Putt
Putlake Adventure Farm
Other Activities
Regular Events
Blues Festival
Swanage Band Programme
Veterans Weekend
Wessex Gathering
Jazz Festival
Sailing Regatta and Carnival
Lifeboat Week
Folk Festival
Purbeck Film Festival
Other Regular Local Events
Walk 1: Around the Square
Walk 2: Out to Peveril Point
Walk 3: Up the High Street
Walk 4: Around the Mill Pond
Walk 5: The High Street to Townsend
Walk 6: Station Road and Along the Prom
Other Walks and Cycling Routes
Discover Old Swanage
Walking and Cycling Trails
The South West Coastal Path
Ballard Down
Priest’s Way

Help and Information
Tourist Information
Swanage Museum and Heritage Centre
Swanage Library
The Beach and Beach Bungalows

An Observation (extract from the book)

‘Not only are the buildings made up of layers, so is our society. There’s a social strata. People have certain stations – the lifeboatmen, the coastguards, the fire brigade, the fishermen, the sea rowers. Also there are lots of volunteer amateur organisations in the town – indicative of people having the time – a lot of us don’t have proper jobs, are self-employed or retired. My dentist once had to disappear mid-op to man the lifeboat. There’s a certain cache to belonging to a group or volunteer organisation; it earns you Brownie points. Your ‘tribe’ is defined by which volunteer organisation you belong to, be it your church, an art group or a particular sport. People who get paid to do something are slightly frowned upon – we are amateurs in the best and worst sense of the word! The scouts and guides here are like the mafia – you feel very proud to be invited into their organisation, and they raise zillions of pounds. It’s the same with the carnival committee. In Swanage, compared to elsewhere, you are less defined by your job. This is what helps knit our community. But the downside is that people can become a bit cliquey and you need to belong and conform to certain groups to get on. I guess I’m part of the gossipy, arty, left-bank, café group. There’s also a big pub culture – which impinges on young people. As soon as they reach 18 they must choose which pub to frequent … That’s why it takes 20 years or so to become part of Swanage.’

Peter John Cooper, Local Poet

A Bit of Fun!

If you like 80's music and the purbecks, CLICK HERE to see the Big Country music video, showing the band tearing around Swanage and the Purbecks on Quad bikes.  Thanks to Martin Payne at the Swanage Railway for finding the link. This was obviously filmed before some of the tracks were relaid, at Corfe.

Useful Links

Helpful information about the area.

Bespoke walks and holidays along the Jurassic Coast, including Swanage.

Amateur photographer Dom Greves specialising in the Purbeck area.