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UNIQUE VICTORIAN STEAM LOCOMOTIVE TAKES STEP FORWARD TOWARDS POSSIBLE RESTORATION – THANKS TO DONOR

Published: October 24, 2017

Story and Photographs by Andrew P.M. Wright                                                                                         Swanage Railway official photographer and press officer

A unique Victorian steam locomotive that escaped the scrapman's torch, thanks to the centenary of London's Waterloo station almost 50 years ago, is to take an important step forward towards possible restoration to full working order – thanks to a generous donor.

Built in February, 1893, London and South Western Railway, T3 class 4-4-0 wheel arrangement locomotive No. 563 is on display at the Swanage Railway’s Corfe Castle station after being donated to the Swanage Railway Trust, a registered charity, by the National Railway Museum in May, 2017.

No. 563 will be taken to the Flour Mill locomotive workshops – at Bream, near Lydney in Gloucestershire – during November, 2017, to be stripped down and fully examined to establish if restoring the T3 to full working order is possible mechanically and financially.

The Swanage Railway Trust has started to raise funds from the public to raise the money required should a restoration to full working order be possible for No. 563.

Responsible for the T3 locomotive, Swanage Railway Trust trustee Matt McManus said: “I would like to say thank the very kind and generous benefactor who is funding the stripping down and examination of the T3 by a prestigious engineering workshop that has a proven track record in overhauling Victorian steam locomotives.

“No.563 was last steamed more than 70 years ago and the extensive engineering assessment at the Flour Mill workshops will show us just how much has changed on the T3 over the years, exactly what condition it is in and how much it is likely to cost to overhaul and return to full working order. 

“The Swanage Railway Trust feels that No.563 can tell its story most effectively by actually hauling trains on a branch line railway that it was built to run on more than 120 years ago. 

“It’s our aim for the LSWR T3-class locomotive to steam again but that will only be possible with some serious finance and hard work from the staff at the Flour Mill as well as Swanage Railway engineering staff and volunteers.

“No. 563 is one of our most prized assets – we are committed to its on-going care and conservation with the hope that the T3 can be returned to steam. On initial inspection, No. 563 looks eminently restorable to full working order and that is our aim.

“Should the results of the detailed mechanical examination of the locomotive rule out its return to steam, the T3 would be reassembled and returned to an showroom exhibition condition with appeal money being used to fund its ongoing conservation,” added Mr McManus, a volunteer Swanage Railway driver who lives in Wareham and has been involved in the heritage line since he was a teenager.

T3 class No. 563 was withdrawn by the Southern Railway at the end of the Second World War in August, 1945, by which time it had run a total of 1.5 million miles.

During its long working life, the T3 class locomotives hauled trains from London on the west of England main line, across Dorset and down to Corfe Castle and Swanage.

Designed in 1890 by William Adams – one of the greatest locomotive designers of the 19th century – for smooth running at up to 80mph, and built at Nine Elms in London, the 81-tonne No. 563 was not scrapped in 1948.

Instead, the unique locomotive – that carried three tonnes of coal and 3,300 gallons of water – was selected for restoration and display at London's Waterloo station centenary celebrations during 1948 in a move that guaranteed the preservation of No. 563.

To make a donation to the T3 fund, send a cheque – made payable to the Swanage Railway Trust – to the T3 Fund, Swanage Railway Trust, Station House Swanage Dorset BH19 1HB.

Gift Aid forms for donations are available on the Swanage Railway Trust appeals website – at www.swanagerailwaytrust.org/giving – with the form being available in a link marked Single Donation Forms under the Appeals banner.

To discuss a potential donation towards the T3 locomotive, contact Swanage Railway Trust trustee Matt McManus at [email protected].

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 [email protected]