A £25,000 appeal by the Swanage Railway Trust to help fund the restoration of the tender belonging to a unique Victorian T3 class steam locomotive – and so assist its return to steam for the first time since 1948 – is just £5,000 short of its total.
The 1893-built London and South Western Railway locomotive No. 563 was due to be scrapped after the Second World War but it was saved after being chosen by British Railways to celebrate the centenary of London's Waterloo station in 1948.
No. 563 was gifted to the Swanage Railway Trust by the National Railway Museum in 2017 with work on its £500,000 restoration beginning during 2019 using specialist contractors in Gloucestershire.
Costing £50,000, the restoration of the locomotive’s tender – which stores 3,300 gallons of water and three tonnes of coal for the engine – is taking place in the Swanage Railway’s Herston engineering works on the outskirts of Swanage.
It is hoped to have the 81-tonne locomotive back in steam and hauling trains, for the first time in 75 years, in 2023 for the centenary of the Southern Railway and the 185th anniversary of the formation of the London and South Western Railway.
The Swanage Railway Trust’s 563 Locomotive Group chairman Nathan Au said: “We are delighted the appeal to the restore the T3’s tender is just £5,000 short of reaching its £25,000 total and we urge people to continue to donate to help realise the dream of No. 563 steaming past the dramatic ruins of Corfe Castle and through the beautiful Isle of Purbeck.
"The T3 is a visual delight and an evocative time machine back to the days of the Victorian railway system which helped to power the industrial revolution, develop communities and our cities as well as bringing economic development and prosperity to this country during the 19th century.
"The last time that No. 563 hauled a train was in 1948 and many people thought they would never see the unique T3 locomotive work again.
“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.
“Given its Victorian heritage, the T3 has an incredibly rich history to tell and it is unique because it is the only surviving tender engine designed by the renowned locomotive engineer William Adams.
“No. 563 is the only steam locomotive owned by the Swanage Railway Trust and returning it to working order gives us the opportunity to show our visitors what the railway was like during Dorset’s industrial and social development in the 19th century.
“No. 563 is a direct link to the Swanage Railway's past – right back to the early days of the London and South Western Railway when holidaymakers first visited Purbeck by train,” added Nathan who is a volunteer steam locomotive driver on the heritage line.
Built in 1893 for hauling express trains on the London and South Western Railway, the T3 class 4-4-0 wheel arrangement locomotive was withdrawn by the Southern Railway at the end of the Second World War in August, 1945, after it had run 1.5 million miles.
Swanage Railway Trust chairman Gavin Johns explained: “All the fund-raising work has been managed by the 563 Group, supported by the Swanage Railway Trust, for which the Group must be congratulated.
“As always, we'd like to thank our supporters for their generous standing orders and donations that have helped us achieve a significant number of milestones on the railway in a relatively short amount of time.
“With continued support from the public and Swanage Railway members, the T3 could be back in steam and hauling a train during 2023 which is very exciting indeed,” added Gavin who is a volunteer signalman on the Swanage Railway.
Designed by William Adams for running at up to 80mph – and built at the Nine Elms locomotive works in London – No. 563 was saved from being scrapped when selected for restoration and display at Waterloo station’s centenary celebrations in 1948.
Donations towards the restoration of the T3 tender can be made by visiting the Swanage Railway Trust website at swanagerailwaytrust.org/appeal.
To find out more about the work of the 563 Locomotive Group – and how you can help – visit 563locomotivegroup.co.uk.
The Swanage Railway welcomes new volunteers who should contact Swanage Railway volunteer recruitment and retention officer Jonathan Evans on 01929 408466 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Story and photograph by Andrew P.M. Wright,
Swanage Railway official photographer and press officer.