£40,000 appeal launched to help restored Victorian steam locomotive haul first train since 1948
A £40,000 appeal has been launched to help a unique and historic Victorian steam locomotive – saved from the scrapyard so it could celebrate the centenary of London’s Waterloo station in 1948 - haul a train for the first time in 75 years.
A group of dedicated Swanage Railway volunteers has been working for six years to restore 1893 London and South Western Railway T3 class locomotive No. 563 which was donated to the Swanage Railway Trust by the National Railway Museum in 2017.
With its ambitious £500,000 restoration close to completion – and as part of the £40,000 appeal - a supporter of the Trust’s 563 Locomotive Group has now pledged to donate £4,000 if £4,000 can be raised from the public by the end of June, 2023.
Dating from 1893, and the last survivor of its class, London and South Western Railway T3 No. 563 had travelled a total of more than 1.5 million miles when it was withdrawn from service by the Southern Railway Company in August, 1945.
Bound for a scrapyard after being one of the finest express passenger train locomotives of the Victorian era, the T3 was saved from being cut up so it could be used to help celebrate the centenary of London’s Waterloo station in 1948.
It is hoped to have the 81-tonne T3 locomotive back in steam and hauling trains at Swanage, for the first time in 75 years, during the Autumn of 2023 for both the centenary of the Southern Railway and the 185th anniversary of the formation of the London and South Western Railway.
563 Locomotive Group chairman Nathan Au said: “It’s a race against time but, hopefully, we can do it with public help. We are very grateful to a generous and committed supporter of the locomotive’s restoration, who wishes to remain anonymous, for match-funding all donations received by the end of June up to a limit of £4,000.
“The boiler of the T3 has been restored and steamed at the Flour Mill locomotive workshops in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire, and the boiler will be steamed there again in the next few weeks now that the boiler has been installed in the frames of the locomotive which has been painted to a very high standard.
“All being well, we are hoping to transport the restored T3 locomotive to Swanage station during the late summer where the locomotive will be reunited with its restored and splendidly painted coal and water tender.
“There will then follow a period of locomotive testing, commissioning and footplate crew training before No. 563 triumphantly hauls its first passenger train since 1948 in the autumn,” added Nathan who is a volunteer driver on the Swanage Railway.
563 Locomotive Group treasurer Steve Doughty explained: “The T3 is a direct link to the Swanage Railway's past – back to the early days of the London and South Western Railway in the 1880s and 1890s when holidaymakers first visited Purbeck by train.
“The ambitious and historic restoration of the T3 is thanks for the consistent generosity of our many supporters who recognise just how unique and historically important this project is.
“Now, we have launched an appeal to raise £40,000 needed to complete the restoration of the unique Victorian T3 which has an incredibly rich history to tell and is the only surviving tender engine designed by the renowned locomotive engineer William Adams.
“The T3 class of steam locomotive hauled trains from London down to Corfe Castle and Swanage from the 1890s to the 1930s so the restoration back to full working order of No. 563 gives us the opportunity to show our visitors what the railway was like during Dorset’s industrial and social development in the 19th century,” added Mr Doughty.
Swanage Railway Trust chairman Gavin Johns, who is also a volunteer on the popular Dorset heritage line, said: “We are working hard to ensure the engine's preservation for future generations to enjoy and the best way to do that is by seeing No. 563 brought back to life so it can haul trains for the first time in 75 years.”
T3 No. 563 is being restored by specialist contractors at the Flour Mill workshops in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire.
The Swanage Railway has a series of fascinating behind the scenes fund-raising videos about the history of the T3 and its restoration which can be found at youtube.com/SwanageRailwayOfficial.
To make a donation - or start a standing order - visit 563locomotivegroup.co.uk where you can also find out more about the T3’s overhaul and its fascinating history.
Anyone interested in finding out more about volunteering should contact the Swanage Railway volunteer recruitment and retention office on 01929 475212 or email email@example.com.
More details about volunteering opportunities can be found at swanagerailwaytrust.org/volunteering.
Story by Andrew P.M. Wright,
Swanage Railway official photographer and press officer.