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  • Andrew P.M. Wright

Second unique Victorian locomotive to be returned to steam by dedicated Swanage Railway volunteers

Photo: Andrew P.M. Wright

Dedicated Swanage Railway volunteers – who restored a unique Victorian steam locomotive so it could haul a passenger train for the first time in almost 80 years – are embarking on their next ambitious challenge to overhaul another Victorian locomotive. 


The Swanage Railway Trust’s 563 Locomotive Group is to overhaul 1899-built London and South Western Railway T9 class steam locomotive No. 30120 which was attacked by a German fighter near Wool, west of Wareham, during the Second World War. 


The enterprising group returned 1893-built London and South Western Railway T3 class steam locomotive No. 563 to working order in October, 2023, after a six-year £650,000 project almost completely funded by donations from railway enthusiasts and the public. 


On loan from the National Railway Museum’s extensive National Collection, T9 No. 30120 arrived on the Swanage Railway – from the Bodmin and Wenford heritage railway in Cornwall - during 2017 but the unique Victorian steam locomotive has not steamed in the Isle of Purbeck since 2020 when it failed its boiler examination. 


Built at the Nine Elms railway works in London during 1899, T9 No. 30120 spent its  career after the Second World War hauling trains in Devon, Dorset, Hampshire and Surrey before being withdrawn by British Railways at Eastleigh in Hampshire during October, 1961. 


Nicknamed ‘greyhounds’ for their turn of speed on the main line, the T9 class steam locomotives operated on the ten-mile Wareham to Swanage branch line from the 1920s through to the early 1960s – first on passenger trains from London and then later on freight trains to Corfe Castle and Swanage. 


563 Locomotive Group chairman Nathan Au said: “It is exciting to be embarking on our second ambitious challenge because see the overhaul of the T9 as the natural follow-on project to the T3 in providing the Swanage Railway with another affordable locomotive with an impeccable Southern pedigree. 


“We are delighted to be able to support the National Railway Museum in its mission to ensure that selected steam locomotives from its National Collection are available for the public to enjoy in steam and hauling passenger trains,” added Nathan who is a volunteer driver on the Swanage Railway


The National Railway Museum’s railway partnerships manager, Paddy McNulty, said: “Following the success of the T3 restoration, we are pleased to be working with the Swanage Railway Trust on its plans for the T9. 


“We look forward to seeing progress towards the successful overhaul of the T9 and enjoying the splendid sight and sound of both locomotives in steam on the Swanage Railway in the future,” he added. 


Nathan Au explained: “The project to overhaul the T9 will start with an assessment of the locomotive to confirm what work is necessary, that the restoration work is viable and that there is the necessary financial support available before a commitment is made to the full overhaul. 


“The hoped for overhaul of No. 30120 will be shared between the Flour Mill engineering works in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire, and the Swanage Railway’s Herston engineering works in Swanage with the Flour Mill doing the boiler and tender and the Swanage Railway doing the chassis of the T9. 


“The Flour Mill successfully returned the T9 to steam in 2010 so its skilled staff are already familiar with the locomotive while their involvement in No. 30120 builds on the successful relationship established with the restoration of the T3,” added Nathan who is also a director of the Swanage Railway’s train operating company. 


Bill Parker, of the Flour Mill locomotive engineering works in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire, said: “After finishing one LSWR locomotive, T3 No. 563, last year for the Swanage Railway Trust’s 563 Locomotive Group, we are delighted to be involved with the restoration of another Victorian steam locomotive. 


“Funded by the late and much-missed Swanage Railway Trust patron Alan Moore, we overhauled T9 No. 30120 some fifteen years ago for the Bodmin and Wenford Railway in Cornwall so it will be interesting to see what ten years of hauling trains has done to the T9. No. 30120 is ideal for the Swanage Railway," he added. 


To find out more about T9 No. 30120 overhaul appeal – or make a donation – visit 


Anyone interested in finding out more about volunteering should contact the Swanage Railway volunteer recruitment and retention officer Lisa Gravett on 01929 475212 or email

Story and photograph by Andrew P.M. Wright, 

Swanage Railway official photographer and press officer. 


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