The seaside town of Swanage is situated in the southeast coast of Dorset, England. The town is at the eastern end of the Isle of Purbeck, a peninsula which is bordered by water on three sides with Poole Harbour to the north and the English Channel to the south and east.
When visiting the town, it is accessible via road from Wareham or across the Sandbanks Ferry from Poole. Swanage is a popular tourist destination with Blue Flag award winning sandy beaches and beautiful countryside.
Swanage is also the first town at the eastern end of the Jurassic Coast, only natural UNESCO World Heritage Site in Britain.
The bay was in the past listed as Swanawic, Swanwich and Sandwich, and only in more recent history as Swanage.
Until the early 19th century the town was a small fishing port, but the arrival of the steam railway and the popularity of the Victorian seaside holiday resulted in the rapid expansion of the town, and it retains many of the Victorian buildings and character.
The stone trade has always been very important to the town dating back to the 1st century AD. Purbeck Stone is used in buildings across the country and in London. The stone boats returned from the city with cast iron bollards, relics and monuments as ballast from the city and these can still be found in the area to this day.
The town has a many shops ranging from small gift shops to two medium sized supermarkets; the only bank remaining is a Lloyds Bank in the High Street.
There are two post offices in the town, the main post office located in Kings Road near the railway station and small sub-post office in Costcutter at Herston.
Swanage has a wide range of tourist attractions, The Steam Railway, Durlston Country Park, Victorian Pier, Two Public swimming pools, Tennis courts, Indoor & Outdoor bowling greens and a large golf course between Swanage and Studland to name just a few.
The area has many miles of footpaths and bridleways making it the ideal place for exploring for walkers, cyclists and horse riders.
Swanage has a population of around 10,000 and in the summer months this number nearly doubles. The town dates back to 877AD when it was first mentioned in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. A more detailed history of the area can be found in the Local History section.
Swanage is governed by Swanage Town Council and Dorset County Council. The town falls within the national constituency of South Dorset.
Swanage Town Council is a Parish Authority based in the town hall in Swanage High Street. Council services include beach and tourist information, sport and recreational facilities, off-street car parks, public conveniences, allotments and cemeteries. The council consists of twelve elected councillors, a town mayor and up to 100 staff.