Fundraising effort to get Victorian loco back on Swanage Railway’s tracks

Work to restore a Victorian locomotive is steaming ahead after it was gifted to Swanage Railway by the National Railway Museum.

The Victorian T3 class locomotive was built in 1893 but hasn’t hauled a train for more than 70 years.


Now Swanage Railway has launched an appeal to raise £25,000 to help get it restored and fully working on the Swanage Railway by 2023.

Front of the loco with the red buffer beam with the smokebox on it
Nick Lloyd, Nathan Au, Steve Doughty and Will Armston-Sheret

Left to right: Swanage Railway’s Nick Lloyd, Nathan Au, Steve Doughty and Will Armston-Sheret at the Flour Mill engineering works in Gloucestershire where restoration of part of the Victorian loco is taking place

Narrowly escaped being scrapped after World War Two

The London and South Western Railway locomotive No. 563 narrowly escaped being scrapped after World War Two and was eventually given to the Swanage Railway Trust in 2017.

Work on its £500,000 restoration began during 2019 with most of the work taking place using specialist contractors in Gloucestershire.

However the restoration of the locomotive’s tender – which stores 3,300 gallons of water and three tonnes of coal for the engine – will take place at Swanage Railway’s Herston engineering works, on the outskirts of Swanage.

Locomotive 563 tender at Corfe Castle
Andrew PM Wright
Locomotive 563 tender at Corfe Castle
Andrew PM Wright

The locomotive’s engine and tender at Corfe Castle in 2017 before restoration work started

“563 is a direct link to the Swanage Railway’s past

Swanage Railway Trust’s 563 Locomotive Group chair and volunteer steam locomotive driver Nathan Au said:

“The last time that 563 steamed and hauled a train was in 1948 so for more than 70 years, many thought they would never see a unique T3 locomotive work again.

“We are working hard to ensure the engine’s preservation for future generations to enjoy and the best way to do that is by seeing 563 brought back to life.

“With an incredibly rich history to tell – given its Victorian heritage – the T3 is unique because it is the only surviving tender engine designed by renowned locomotive engineer William Adams.

“The only steam locomotive owned by the Swanage Railway Trust, a working T3 gives us the opportunity to show our visitors what the railway was like during the industrial and social development in Dorset at the end of the 19th century.

“563 is a direct link to the Swanage Railway’s past – right back to the early days of the London and South Western Railway when holidaymakers first visited Purbeck by train,”

T3 No. 563 at Norden on Swanage Railway November 2017
The Locomotive frames with the locomotive's smokebox

The locomotive in 2017 (top) and after it was stripped back (below)

Winter appeal to raise £25,000

To help fund the restoration work in Swanage on the tender, a £25,000 appeal has been launched.

Swanage Railway Trust’s fundraising chair and volunteer signalman Randy Coldham said:

“The Swanage Railway Trust is initiating this winter appeal to raise £25,000 towards the cost of the restoration of the T3 tender at our Herston engineering works.

“As always, we’d like to thank our supporters for their generous standing orders and donations that have helped us achieve a significant number of milestones on the railway in a relatively short amount of time.

“While the work on the tender at Herston is of importance, so is the continued and expert work on the restoration and overhaul of the locomotive at the Flour Mill engineering works in Gloucestershire.

“If their continued support – as well as interest and contributions from new supporters –continues then the T3 could be back in steam and hauling a train during 2023 which is very exciting.”

Wheels of the locomotive
The locomotive's firebox

The locomotive’s wheels and firebox undergoing restoration

Further information

  • Donations towards the restoration of the T3 tender can be made via the Swanage Railway Trust website
  • More about the work of the 563 Locomotive Group is on its website

Share this story

Contact us

Do you have anything to add to this story?

We like to keep everything up-to-date, so if you know more, please help us by getting in touch.


Top stories

Swanage Railway scraps plans for regular rail service to Wareham Despite years of battling to reinstate a branch line service between Swanage and Wareham in Dorset, Swanage Railway has dashed any hope of running trains up to the mainline for ... 1 month ago More Purbeck visitors urged to take trip to Brownsea 2 weeks ago Swanage to get seafront sauna and new beach cafe 1 month ago New chapter in store for Corfe Castle village shop 1 month ago Three weeks of roadworks to begin in Corfe Castle 4 days ago