Alex Willatt

6th October, 2023

Andrew P.M. Wright


Alex Willatt

6th October, 2023

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

A unique Victorian steam locomotive is to haul its first passenger train since
1945 - following a challenging six-year £650,000 restoration – after escaping
being scrapped so it could mark the centenary of London’s Waterloo station in

One of the guests attending a launch ceremony at Swanage station on Saturday, 7
October, 2023, for the T3 class locomotive No. 563 will be Swanage Railway Trust
Patron Sir Philip Williams whose great-grandfather was on the Board of the Victorian
railway company that designed and built the steam locomotive.

Built in 1893 to a design by renowned engineer William Adams – and one of the
finest express passenger train locomotives of the Victorian era – the non-working
London and South Western Railway T3 class No. 563 was donated to the Swanage
Railway Trust by the National Railway Museum in 2017.

No. 563 will be hauling its first two passenger trains – carrying only invited guests
and supporters of the Swanage Railway Trust’s ambitious and historic T3 restoration
project – on Saturday, 7 October, 2023, with the special trains departing Swanage for
Harman’s Cross, Corfe Castle and Norden at 12.35pm and 2.05pm.

Resplendent in its new lined out 1890s Drummond passenger green livery, the 81-
tonne T3 will be hauling its first public-carrying passenger trains on Sunday, 8
October, 2023, with tickets only available in advance on-line at

Special guests attending the T3 launch ceremony at Swanage station on Saturday
will include the Lord-Lieutenant of Dorset, Angus Campbell; senior National Railway
Museum curator Anthony Coulls; Swanage Railway Trust Patron Sir Philip Williams
as well as descendants of the T3’s Victorian designer William Adams.

Living in West Dorset, Sir Philip Williams has a special link to the T3 as well as to the
London and South Western Railway because his great-grandfather joined the Board
of the London and South Western Railway in 1892 when the first of its T3
locomotives was built.

Generations of Sir Philip’s ancestors also played an important part in enabling the
London and South Western Railway to reach Dorchester, from Southampton, in 1847
by helping to promote the required Act in Parliament and buying land over which the
railway would need a right of way.

No. 563’s first passenger trains since 1945 – when the locomotive was the last
member of the T3 class and withdrawn from service by the Southern Railway after
running more than 1.5 million miles – will mark the centenary of the Southern
Railway and the 185th anniversary of the formation of the London and South
Western Railway.

Anthony Coulls, Senior Curator of Rail Transport and Technology at the National
Railway Museum, said: “The National Railway Museum transferred the T3 class
locomotive No. 563 to the Swanage Railway Trust in 2017 because of the heritage
railway’s outstanding record in recreating a classic Southern Region branch line and
the locomotive’s strong historical connections to the area.

“We are thrilled to see the T3 returning to steam for the first time in 75 years and
now being able to offer passengers the unique experience of riding behind the
Victorian locomotive through the Purbeck countryside,” he added.

The Lord-Lieutenant of Dorset, Angus Campbell, said: “Returning the T3 to the rails
is a triumph for the Swanage Railway as well as its dedicated volunteers and
supporters. An elegant example of living history, No. 563 will be seen in all her glory
in the Isle of Purbeck to the delight of all.

“The restoration of No. 563 is a magnificent example of what can be done with true
dedication, determination and very hard work. She brings the beauty of our Victorian
past back to Dorset and is yet another triumph for the Swanage Railway,” he added.

Swanage Railway Trust Patron, Sir Philip Williams, said: “The T3 is a magnificent
and supremely elegant locomotive - a wonderful living exemplar of the great age of
steam in the territory for which she was designed. It will be fantastic to see No. 563
in steam and raring to go again.

“It is also a very great pleasure and privilege for me to have been asked to
participate in No. 563’s launch ceremony and ride in her first train. Because of my
family link to the London and South Western Railway and the T3, I will have a real
sense of history in re-launching the locomotive,” he added.

Swanage Railway Trust chairman Gavin Johns said: “I would like to thank the
National Railway Museum for donating the T3 to the Swanage Railway Trust so it
could be restored and I am delighted that the Museum’s senior curator will be with us
at Swanage to see No. 563 haul its first passenger trains since 1945. It will be a
marvellous moment.”

563 Locomotive Group chairman Nathan Au said: “We are very grateful to everyone
who has been involved with the T3’s restoration for their hard work and commitment
as well as to our supporters for their donations, contributions and faith in the T3

“When No. 563 was born, the motor car was but a curiosity and the first aeroplane
had yet to leave the ground. Railways powered by steam dominated the movement
of people and goods in a way that we can scarcely imagine today.

“By the time the T3 was retired after the Second World War, the transport landscape
had changed forever; the dawn of mass motoring was on the horizon and aircraft
were crossing the world.

“No. 563 is a real time-machine - a living and breathing example of the world when
glamorous railways with their brightly painted and highly polished steam engines
ruled supreme,” added Nathan who is a volunteer driver on the Swanage Railway.

Restoration was started on the T3 in late 2017 with work on the locomotive being
carried out by specialist contractors at the Flour Mill workshops in the Forest of
Dean, Gloucestershire, as well as at the Swanage Railway’s Herston engineering
works on the outskirts of Swanage.

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 [email protected]. Details about
volunteering opportunities can also be found at

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