RAILWAY enthusiasts are hoping to bring a Victorian locomotive back into use for the first time in around 75 years.
Swanage Railway has launched an ambitious £85,000 appeal to restore the iconic T3 – the last survivor of its class which dates back to 1893.
The T3 was bound for a scrapyard after being one of the finest express passenger train locomotives of the Victorian era, but was saved from being cut up so it could be used to help celebrate the centenary of London’s Waterloo station, in 1948.
Full name London and South Western Railway T3 No 563, the locomotive had travelled more than 1.5 million miles when it was withdrawn from service by the Southern Railway Company in 1945.
Now, it is hoped to have the 81-tonne locomotive back in steam in the spring.
To achieve it, the Swanage Railway Trust’s 563 Locomotive Group has launched an appeal to raise £85,000 so the restoration can be completed and the T3 can steam for the first time since 1948.
The project, costing a total of £600,000, was started in November 2017, with work being carried out by specialist contractors at the Flour Mill workshops in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire, and at the Swanage Railway’s Herston engineering works on the outskirts of Swanage.
Chairman of 563 Locomotive Group, Nathan Au, said: “It’s very exciting to see the finishing line for the challenging and meticulous restoration of a unique Victorian steam locomotive come into sight – we are on the final sprint and almost there.
“The T3’s working life was over before many of the other steam locomotives that we operate on the Swanage Railway had been built.
“The unique and iconic No. 563 will offer something new and exciting to everyone on the Swanage Railway – enabling our visitors, members, volunteers and locomotive crews to enjoy an evocative taste of Victorian train travel.”
The T3 is being painted in the locomotive livery of the London and South Western Railway – Drummond Green with brown borders and a lining of black and white – which it carried between 1893 and the formation of Southern Railway in 1923.
563 Locomotive Group treasurer, Steve Doughty, added: “I would like to thank everyone who has so generously supported the restoration of the T3 which is thought to have hauled a Dunkirk evacuation train in the summer of 1940.
“We understand times are challenging financially for people but we hope the last push to raise £85,000 to complete the restoration will see No 563 back in steam for the first time since 1948.
“Seeing the T3 hauling trains through the beautiful Isle of Purbeck and past the dramatic ruins of Corfe Castle will be an amazing sight not seen in the area for almost a century. No 563 is a direct link to the Swanage Railway’s past – back to the early days of the London and South Western Railway when holidaymakers first visited Purbeck by train.”
To make a donation – or start a standing order – to complete the T3’s restoration, visit 563locomotivegroup.co.uk.