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  • Andrew P.M. Wright

Unique Victorian Steam Locomotive Donated to the Swanage Railway unveiled in front of its Designer

A unique Victorian steam locomotive that escaped the scrapman's torch, thanks to the centenary of London's Waterloo station almost 50 years ago, has been unveiled at Corfe Castle station – in front of its notable designer's descendants.

Built in February, 1893, for hauling express trains on the London and South Western Railway, T3 class 4-4-0 wheel arrangement locomotive No. 563 was withdrawn by the Southern Railway at the end of the Second World War in August, 1945, by which time it had run a total of 1.5 million miles.

During its long working life, the T3 class locomotives hauled trains from London on the west of England main line, across Dorset and down to Corfe Castle and Swanage.

Designed in 1890 by William Adams – one of the greatest locomotive designers of the 19th century – for smooth running at up to 80mph, and built at Nine Elms in London, the 81-tonne No. 563 was not scrapped in 1948.

Instead, the unique locomotive – that carried three tonnes of coal and 3,300 gallons of water – was selected for restoration and display at London's Waterloo station centenary celebrations during 1948 in a move that guaranteed the preservation of No. 563.

Ownership of the classic T3 locomotive has been transferred by the National Railway Museum to the Swanage Railway Trust whose volunteers will conserve and preserve the 86-tonne engine – and display it to the public with the aim of returning it to steam.

Delighted National Railway Museum head curator Andrew McLean unveiled No. 563 during a welcoming ceremony at the Victorian Corfe Castle station in front of guests as well as Swanage Railway staff, volunteers and supporters on Saturday, 27 May, 2017.

Swanage Railway Trust chairman Gavin Johns said: "It was an exciting moment when Andrew McLean pulled the cover sheet off the locomotive to reveal its glorious Victorian lines with gasps of admiration and appreciation from our guests, staff and members.

"Seeing the expressions of delight on the faces of William Adams' descendants was wonderful – a special and moving moment. It was a very memorable day," he added.

Attending the welcoming ceremony for No. 563 were Dr Robert Adams – whose great-great grandparents were the parents of William Adams – as well as Alex Campbell, the great-great grandson of William Adams' brother John.

Robert said: "It was truly fabulous and extremely enjoyable – an occasion that my wife Margaret and I will never forget. The importance rightly placed on William Adams as one of the greatest locomotive designers of the 19th century was well illustrated. "It was a real thrill to see No. 563 unveiled at Corfe Castle station. Like all of William Adams' designs, the locomotive is beautiful in appearance as well as efficiency. It has been described by locomotive experts as one of William Adams' great masterpieces.

"The ceremony at Corfe Castle station was amazing and fabulous – a real credit to all those connected with the Swanage Railway. Anything that promotes the awareness of the importance of the London and South Western Railway to the public is a good thing.

"Hopefully, No. 563 will eventually be returned to steam and become one of the Swanage Railway's main attractions resulting in an increased public interest in William Adams as a person," added Robert who lives in Sidmouth.

Alex Campbell explained: "The unveiling and welcoming ceremony for the T3 made me wonder what William Adams would have made of the day and how perhaps his heart would have warmed to see the pleasure that his locomotive still gives to others some 120 years later – and hopefully to many more in the years to come.

"I'm very proud of what William Adams achieved during his lifetime as well as the respect and friendship that he shared with his peers and colleagues. The Swanage Railway is the rightful resting place for the No. 563 and Corfe Castle's restored Victorian station made a lovely backdrop to the locomotive.

"Looking at the locomotive, it's amazing how something so functional can also be so beautiful. The T3 represents a bygone era of technical excellence that combined strength, durability and aesthetic beauty that augmented functionality with grandeur that typified Victorian technology.

"It was good to meet the volunteers and staff of the Swanage Railway who value aspects of the past and make them come alive so that people in the future can benefit from them," added Alex who lives in Surrey and attended with his dog Scampy.

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