Swanage Railway embarks on new Victorian loco restoration

Not happy to restore just one Victorian steam locomotive, a team from Swanage Railway in Dorset is aiming to get the only surviving T9 locomotive back into action, as well.

Built in 1899, the London and South Western Railway T9 class locomotive No. 30120, arrived at the Swanage Railway in 2017 but had to be taken out of operation when it failed its boiler test in 2020.

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Swanage Railway steam loco T9 30120 at Corfe Castle
ANDREW PM WRIGHT

The T9 class locomotive No. 30120 hauled trains between Swanage and Norden via Corfe Castle between 2017 and 2020 before failing its boiler examination

Eager for a new challenge

There’s now an ambitious five year plan to overhaul the loco, on loan from the National Railway Museum, and to get it, literally, back on track!

This project follows the success of the restoration of the visually stunning T3 class steam locomotive No. 563 to full working order in October 2023, which was recently on display, hauling carriages during Swanage Railway’s Victorian weekend in February 2024.

The same team, eager for a new challenge, are keen to see the T9 back in steam and travelling on the heritage railway line between Swanage and Norden, alongside the T3 loco.

To get two rare Victorian locomotives steaming through the Purbeck countryside will be quite an achievement for Swanage Railway and will help towards its objective of becoming a tourist attraction in its own right, as opposed to a transport service, now that plans to operate a regular service between Swanage and Wareham have been put on ice.

Swanage Railway steam loco T9 30120 at Corfe Castle
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The hope is to get the T9 back in operation in time for its 130th birthday in 2029

German fighter plane attack during World War Two

Built at the Nine Elms railway works in London during 1899, T9 No. 30120 was attacked by a German fighter plane near Wool, west of Wareham, during World War Two.

It then spent the rest of its career hauling trains in Devon, Dorset, Hampshire and Surrey before being withdrawn by British Railways at Eastleigh in Hampshire during October 1961.

T3 No. 563 locomotive
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Nathan Au with the restored T3 loco – a shining example of what can be achieved with dedication and perserverance

Initial assessement before full commitment

Chair of the 563 Locomotive Group, Nathan Au, who lead on the restoration of the T3 and will now be turning his attention to the T9, said:

“The project to overhaul the T9 will start with an assessment of the locomotive to confirm what work is necessary, that the restoration work is viable and that there is the necessary financial support available before a commitment is made to the full overhaul.

“The hoped for overhaul of No. 30120 will be shared between the Flour Mill engineering works in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire, and the Swanage Railway’s Herston engineering works in Swanage with the Flour Mill doing the boiler and tender and the Swanage Railway doing the chassis of the T9.

“The Flour Mill successfully returned the T9 to steam in 2010 so its skilled staff are already familiar with the locomotive while their involvement in No. 30120 builds on the successful relationship established with the restoration of the T3.”

Swanage Railway steam loco T9 30120 at Corfe Castle
ANDREW PM WRIGHT

The T9 steaming past Corfe Castle will be travelling a little slower on the back of a road transporter for its journey to Gloucestershire

Spot the T9 loco

The T9 which has been stored at Swanage Railway for the last four years, is due to leave by road transporter on Friday 19th April 2024.

It will make quite a sight as it travels to the Flour Mill in the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire for the first stage of its overhaul.

T3 563at Swanage Railway Saturday 7 October 2023
Andrew PM Wright

The success of the restoration of the T3 has spurred the team to tackle another challenge

“We look forward to seeing progress”

The National Railway Museum’s railway partnerships manager, Paddy McNulty, said:

“Following the success of the T3 restoration, we are pleased to be working with the Swanage Railway Trust on its plans for the T9.

“We look forward to seeing progress towards the successful overhaul of the T9 and enjoying the splendid sight and sound of both locomotives in steam on the Swanage Railway in the future.”

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