- Andy Vincent
Swanage Railway Trust's 563 Locomotive Group passes the one third mark for its £350,000 appeal
The 563 Locomotive Group, a subgroup of the Swanage Railway Trust, is delighted to announce it has raised £162,000 to date. The restoration of the only surviving London & South Western Railway T3 class No.563 has now covered over a third of its overhaul costs thanks to exceptionally generous donations and standing orders from the public.
Built 126 years ago in March 1893, 563 remained in service until 1945 and was the last survivor of its class despite the others being withdrawn in the 1930s. Remarkably, it was saved from the scrap line at Kimbridge Junction in 1948 to become one of the starring attractions at the Waterloo Station centenary celebrations later that year but has never been in steam since.
Nathan Au, Deputy Chairman of the 563LG said “The prospect of seeing 563 in working order for the time in over 70 years has clearly captured the public’s imagination and their support has been extremely encouraging.”
Nick Lloyd, Secretary of the 563LG added “The T3 is significantly important part of Victorian history that will allow us to showcase an express passenger locomotive of the day, on the railway which it was built for at Swanage."
563 moved to the Flour Mill locomotive workshop in 2017 for an initial strip down and assessment to investigate the feasibility of returning the engine to steam. Astonishingly it was discovered the chassis and running gear had essentially already been overhauled by Eastleigh Works before the Waterloo Centenary.
The boiler however was in a comparatively poorer condition and is currently being fully overhauled. The inner firebox was painstakingly removed as a complete assembly to preserve a historical example of the original plate work and is a testament to the craftsmanship of the early railways. £30,000 of bespoke copper has been ordered in the meantime to create a brand new replacement along with steel sides for the outer firebox as well. Undertaking this substantial amount of work will give 563 a robust boiler which is hoped to provide at least 25 years’ service.
With the boiler extracted, removing and measuring all of the other components and taking out the wheels for inspection also allowed the frames to be shot blasted, repaired and protected with primer and undercoat. This approach has enabled us to de-risk the overhaul by leaving no stone unturned and there is effectively now a kit of parts awaiting refitting to complete the chassis.
Further fundraising is vital if this momentum is to be maintained and 563 is to receive its overhauled boiler and steam again soon. More contributions, no matter how small, will help provide all new: side, girder, longitudinal and crown stays, a front tube plate and associated tubes, a re-bushed throatplate, repaired back head, foundation ring and smokebox.
Matt McManus, Chairman of the 563LG said “We are delighted by the recent fundraising progress made by the whole 563 team. With our recent donations and standing orders we are now well over a third funded and can now accelerate into manufacturing new firebox parts and the begin the reassembly process.
However we are not home and dry yet! If you were thinking about contributing but haven’t yet, now is the time to get on board! Please consider a monthly standing order or one off donation and join us for the journey back to steam with regular updates and supporter’s events. We are entering an exciting stage of the overhaul and with your help we can get 563 back into steam a lot sooner than originally thought! Join the 563 Locomotive Group.”
Other ongoing work includes planning the stripdown of the locomotive’s tender, which has remained in storage at the Swanage Railway. If anyone would like to consider joining the 563 Locomotive Group as a volunteer, please make an inquiry at email@example.com
For more information, including additional photographs, please visit www.563locomotivegroup.co.uk or our Facebook page, @SRT563LG to find out more about the project and how you can help make 563’s return to steam possible and enable a working T3 class to once again grace the South on the Swanage Railway.