T3 class No. 563 engine hauls carriages for the first time in 78 years


A Victorian steam locomotive has hauled carriages for the first time in 78 years following a six-year renovation.

The T3 class No. 563 engine was relaunched on the Swanage Railway in Dorset after its £650,000 renovation.

On Saturday it pulled carriages with supporters of the project onboard, followed by fare-paying members of the public on Sunday.

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No. 563 haul trains again during the half-term school holiday later this month.

The locomotive dates back to 1893 and was withdrawn from regular service by the Southern Railway Company in 1945.

It took part in celebrations for London Waterloo station’s centenary three years later.

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The locomotive was donated in 2017 by the National Railway Museum to the Swanage Railway Trust.

Will Sheret, a volunteer for the 563 Locomotive Group, which oversaw the restoration, was responsible for powering the locomotive on Saturday.

He said: “It was great fun and wonderful to see so many T3 supporters and donors enjoying No. 563 and the Swanage Railway – a day that I could have scarcely imagined three years ago when we restarted the project after the end of the Covid-19 lockdowns.

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“It was brilliant to enjoy the honour of firing the T3 on its first passenger train since 1945.

“It was somewhat of an adjustment compared to our bigger resident steam locomotives on the Swanage Railway like our 1940s Bulleid Pacifics.

“With a smaller boiler, you have to focus and be on top of the job at all times but it’s a real privilege to fire a Victorian locomotive hauling passenger trains.”

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Anthony Coulls, senior curator of the National Railway Museum, said: “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.”

Swanage Railway Trust patron Sir Philip Williams, whose great-grandfather was on the board of the London and South Western Railway Company that designed and built No. 563, 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.”

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