• Andrew P.M. Wright

Victorian T9 locomotive to remain at the Swanage Railway


The National Collection’s historic T9 class steam locomotive No. 30120 is to remain on the Swanage Railway – after an agreement was reached between the National Railway Museum and the Swanage Railway Trust.

The new agreement will see the 1899-built London & South Western Railway locomotive stored at the Swanage Railway, in Dorset, following expiry of its boiler certificate in August, 2020, which meant the T9 had to be taken out of use.


The new agreement includes provision for the limited disassembly of the locomotive – including a lift of the boiler lift – so that the Swanage Railway Trust can assess the potential for the locomotive to be returned to steam.


Designed by Dugald Drummond, No. 30120 was built at the Nine Elms Locomotive Works in London during 1899 for work the London and South Western Railway.


During the Second World War, the T9 was attacked by a German Luftwaffe fighter at Wool station – west of Wareham – with the locomotive crew having to hide under No. 30120 for cover.


The locomotive was withdrawn in 1961 from Exmouth Junction shed, near Exeter in Devon, and joined the National Collection in late 1963 – No.30120 later being put on display at the National Railway Museum in York.

No. 30120 was then overhauled at the Flour Mill engineering works, in the Forest of Dean, for service on the Bodmin and Wenford Railway, in Cornwall, during 2010 before the T9 moved to the Swanage Railway in 2017.


The T9 first hauled trains on the Swanage Railway in 1991 when passenger trains only operated on the three mile line from Swanage to Harman’s Cross.


In 1991, No. 30120 was the first steam locomotive to run to Corfe Castle since June, 1967, after the relaid tracks reached Corfe Castle en route to Norden.


Volunteer Matt McManus, of the Swanage Railway Trust, said: “The T9 has been a popular member of the Swanage Railway locomotive fleet for some years now and we are delighted to have reached agreement with the National Railway Museum for the T9 to stay in our care and, hopefully, be overhauled and returned to service.”


Anthony Coulls, Senior Curator of Rail Transport and Technology at the National Railway Museum, explained: “The T9 remains a valued part of the museum’s collection and we have enjoyed sharing it with heritage lines across the country where it has been in steam, especially the Bodmin & Wenford Railway and most recently the Swanage Railway.


“The National Railway Museum’s Operating Rail Vehicle Strategy, published in 2019, is due for review but we still see a working future for No. 30120 which is dependent on the practicality of another overhaul to working condition,” he added.


Matt McManus added: “No timetable has yet been set for the engineering assessment of No. 30120, although the Swanage Railway is keen to complete this as soon as possible so that it can be included in its overall motive power plan.”


"No. 30120 is the archetypal Southern branch line steam locomotive with the T9s having hauled passenger and freight trains to Corfe Castle and Swanage for some 40 years from the 1920s,” he explained.


The Swanage Railway Trust’s Victorian London and South Western Railway T3 class locomotive No. 563 is currently being overhauled at the Flour Mill Workshop in the Forest of Dean.


Nicknamed 'Greyhounds' because of their turn of speed – they could run at up to 85 mph – T9s were used on main line express trains between London and Plymouth when there was fierce competition between the London and South Western Railway and the Great Western Railway for transatlantic liner passengers.


The T9s worked widely over the Southern Railway network and after their main line days, many of the locomotives were put to work on secondary line and branch line passenger and freight trains.


When painted in a Southern Railway green livery and numbered No. 120 – and first loaned to the Swanage Railway by the National Railway Museum – the T9 spent three years hauling trains between Swanage and Harman's Cross from 1991 to 1993.


The Swanage Railway always welcomes new volunteers so, for a chat, contact Swanage Railway volunteer co-ordinator Mike Whitwam on 01929 475212 or email him at iwanttovolunteer@swanagerailway.co.uk.

Story by Andrew P.M. Wright,

Swanage Railway official photographer and press officer.