Quell the car in Corfe

So many of our idyllic villages are spoilt by the omnipresent car.  Corfe Castle in the Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty suffers more than most.

The main A351  from Poole to Swanage passes through the village.  We visited in September when the main tourist rush had passed.  Even so it was frustrating and unpleasant always having to compete with traffic as we walked through the village. There isn’t a footway on both sides of the road and you have to cross to and fro.

The A351.

The A351.

The speed limit is not enforced.  However, I was glad to see that illegal parking on yellow lines is enforced by Dorset County Council.

The traffic warden pounces.

The traffic warden pounces …

and a parking ticket is issued.

… and a parking ticket is issued.

Sir Frederick Treves, writing in Highways and Byways in Dorset in 1906 said of the town: It is a wrinkled old place in the winter of its age, lying at the foot of its Castle like a faithful hound.  

Corfe lies at the foot of its castle.

Corfe lies at the foot of its castle.

Its three little streets lead humbly to the Castle gate.  The keep rises high above the village, and looks down upon it as a sacred image would regard an adoring worshipper.  The small town has ever been dependent upon the Castle, and is dependent on it still, for it brings to the place hungry tourists in char-a-bancs, with their holiday money in their pockets.

Corfe Castle by Joseph Pennell from Highways and Byways in Dorset.

Corfe Castle by Joseph Pennell from Highways and Byways in Dorset.

The fabric of the village has changed little since then, but the traffic has increased massively.  There are alternatives to private transport.  The steam train travels regularly on the six-mile route between the Norden park-and-ride and Swanage, and there is also a reasonable bus service.

Swanage railway.

Swanage railway.

The park-and-ride, run by Purbeck District Council, is well-placed away from the village.  There is also a large National Trust car-park (the trust owns the castle and much of the village) which is sited below the castle, with a choice of two footpaths, off the road, to get you into the village and to the castle.  So the local authorities and the trust have made an effort to reduce traffic.

Corfe Castle from Challow Hill.

Corfe Castle from Challow Hill.

But what is needed is a strictly-enforced, 20-mph speed limit in the town, with bumps and chicanes to reinforce this.   Corfe Castle is a magnificent, timeless place—let’s keep it that way.

Postscript: Since posting this I’ve had some useful comments (below and via twitter).  Dorset AONB advocates its Traffic in Villages Toolkit which looks an excellent document.  It would be great if Corfe Castle could apply these principles.


About campaignerkate

I am the general secretary of the Open Spaces Society and I campaign for public access, paths and open spaces in town and country.
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One Response to Quell the car in Corfe

  1. Jane says:


    I came across your blog after AONB Dorset retweeted it on Twitter.

    As a local to Corfe Castle, I have to give my personal opinion- what you are saying is not the answer. A 20mph speed limit would turn what is already a busy road in the summer time into total gridlock- as for speed bumps and chicanes that would be a devastating impact on local residents, unsightly and completely impractical.

    There is already a number of parked cars along the A351 into the village which act as a deterrent to speeding (sounds silly but honestly now.. and no not on yellow lines, so you can stop getting excited at the prospect of more parking tickets). As the main route between Swanage and Wareham/Dorchester/the rest of the world this road is used by school buses (double deckers) ambulances and lorries. To add speed bumps would to me be more of a hazard particularly in the case of an ambulance, there is only a cottage hospital in Swanage and a ferry which only runs until 11pm during the summer months is the only alternative exit to a hospital.

    Corfe Castle is beautiful, I love it with all my heart and plan to marry there, and yes it would be splendid if it was untouched by the modern world – but it is. It is a home for many and a gateway for the thousands of people who call Purbeck home and need a main road to get to work/school.

    This is almost as silly to me as something a tourist once said to me in the National Trust tea rooms in Corfe (where I worked as a teen for 6 years) “so what happens to the village in the winter? where do you go?” he asked, totally sincere. I had to stop myself from saying “well we just sneak back into our little warrens in the ground until the sun appears again”.

    I understand your intentions are good, but you clearly have no comprehension of ordinary life in Dorset.

    Also there is a traffic light crossing between the main village square and train station, which is perfectly adequate. No crossing could be added to the hill, that would be a danger so on the flat stretches of road on the entrance and exit of Corfe there are also further crossings.

    I love driving through the village especially at Christmas when i can see the gorgeous twinkly lights on the way home (and there are less tourists about). I think your post is lacking any real thought or consideration.

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