- Andrew P.M. Wright
£85,000 appeal to complete restoration so unique locomotive can steam for the first time since 1948
An £85,000 appeal has been launched to complete the ambitious and meticulous restoration of a unique and iconic Victorian locomotive to full working order so it can return to steam for the first time since 1948. 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.
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its class, London and South Western Railway T3 No. 563 had travelled a total of more than 1.5 million miles when it was withdrawn from service by the Southern Railway Company in August, 1945.
It is hoped to have the 81-tonne T3 locomotive back in steam, for the first time in 75 years, during the spring of this year - 2023 being the centenary of the Southern Railway and the 185th anniversary of the London and South Western Railway’s formation.
To achieve that milestone, the Swanage Railway Trust’s 563 Locomotive Group has launched an appeal to raise £85,000 so the locomotive’s restoration can be completed and the T3 can steam for the first time since 1948.
The ambitious and meticulous restoration project costing a total of £600,000 was started in November, 2017, with work on the Victorian locomotive being carried out by specialist contractors at the Flour Mill workshops in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire, and at the Swanage Railway’s Herston engineering works on the outskirts of Swanage.
The T3 is being painted in the locomotive livery of the London and South Western Railway – Drummond Green with brown borders and a lining of black and white – which it carried between 1893 and the formation of the Southern Railway in 1923.
Chairman of 563 Locomotive Group, Nathan Au, said: “It’s very exciting to see the finishing line for the challenging and meticulous restoration of a unique Victorian steam locomotive come into sight – we are on the final sprint and almost there.
“The T3’s working life was over before many of the other steam locomotives that we operate on the Swanage Railway had been built.
“The unique and iconic No. 563 will offer something new and exciting to everyone on the Swanage Railway – enabling our visitors, members, volunteers and locomotive crews to enjoy an evocative taste of Victorian train travel.
“We are very grateful to the National Railway Museum which donated the T3 to the Swanage Railway Trust in 2017,” added Nathan who is a volunteer Swanage Railway driver.
563 Locomotive Group treasurer Steve Doughty explained: “I would like to thank everyone who has so generously supported the restoration of the T3 which is thought to have hauled a Dunkirk evacuation train in the summer of 1940.
“We understand times are challenging financially for people but we hope the last push to raise £85,000 to complete the restoration will see No. 563 back in steam for the first time since 1948.
“Seeing the T3 hauling trains through the beautiful Isle of Purbeck and past the dramatic ruins of Corfe Castle will be an amazing sight not seen in the area for almost a 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 Steve.
A series of fascinating behind the scenes fund-raising videos by the Swanage Railway about the history of the T3, and its ambitious and meticulous restoration, can be found at youtube.com/SwanageRailwayOfficial.
To make a donation - or start a standing order – to complete the T3’s restoration, visit 563locomotivegroup.co.uk which details the unique and iconic steam locomotive’s ambitious and meticulous overhaul as well as its fascinating history.
Story by Andrew P.M. Wright,
Swanage Railway official photographer and press officer.