Milestone reached in £500,000 restoration of Swanage Railway’s T3 steam locomotive

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Swanage Railway has taken a major step in the restoration of LSWR T3 No. 563.

The Victorian steam locomotive, which was built in 1893 and has not run on steam since 1948, is being restored after being donated by the National Railway Museum in 2017 to the Swanage Railway Trust.

563 was once destined for scrap having been one of the first express passenger locomotives of the Victorian era – but was fortunately saved so that it could be used to celebrate the centenary of London Waterloo in 1948,

It is hoped that the restoration of T3, which is taking place at the workshops at Flour Mill in Gloucestershire, can be completed by 2023 to celebrate the centenary of the Southern Railway and the 185th anniversary of the formation of the London and South Western Railway.

T3 n°563 re-rolled Flour Mill Workshops Forest of Dean Gloucestershire // Credit: NATHAN AU

The re-commissioning of the locomotive, which is a major milestone in the £500,000 project, comes as the Trust calls on people to sponsor a boiler support or boiler tube to help restore the boiler of the locomotive.

A further £150,000 is needed to keep the T3 restoration on track and complete by summer 2023.

If you would like to donate for this wonderful back-to-action locomotive, you can do so by click here.

T3 No. 563 re-rolled flour mill workshops Forest of Dean Gloucestershire
T3 n°563 re-rolled Flour Mill Workshops Forest of Dean Gloucestershire // Credit: NATHAN AU

563 Locomotive Group Treasurer, Steve Doughty, said: “Joining the wheels to the frames of the locomotive as a rolling frame is an extremely important step.

“With the drive wheels and front wheels in place, the stage is now ready to complete the boiler this year and allow for final assembly.

“The construction of a brand new copper inner furnace for the T3 has been the lion’s share of the project so far and this has now been installed at the heart of the boiler.

“The T3 firebox has 830 stays so making them from copper bars is no small feat when the cost of copper to make a single stay is £35. The order for boiler tubes for the T3 is also due to be placed shortly, with each tube costing £50.

“A limited number of original expired T3 copper boilers – which cannot be used in the restoration of the locomotive – are available to anyone who donates at least £1,200 to the T3 restoration project; a rare chance to own a piece of special Victorian railway history,” added Steve.

T3 No. 563 re-rolled flour mill workshops Forest of Dean Gloucestershire
T3 n°563 re-rolled Flour Mill Workshops Forest of Dean Gloucestershire // Credit: NATHAN AU

Swanage Railway Trust chairman Gavin Johns said: ‘We are working hard to ensure the preservation of the engine for future generations to enjoy and the best way to do that is to see No 563 brought back to life so that it can haul trains for the first time in 75 years.

“Given its Victorian heritage, the T3 has an incredibly rich story to tell and is unique as it is the only surviving tender engine designed by famed locomotive engineer William Adams.

“No. 563 is the only steam locomotive owned by the Swanage Railway Trust and its restoration to working order gives us the opportunity to show our visitors what the railway was like during the industrial and social development of Dorset in the 19th century .

‘T3 is a direct link to Swanage Railway’s past – back to the early days of the London and South West Railway when holidaymakers first visited Purbeck by train,’ added Gavin , volunteer signalman on the Swanage Railway.

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