Victorian-Era Steam Locomotive Restored to Pristine Condition

The 1893 London and South Western Railway T3 class No. 563 locomotive is pulling trains again for the first time in 75 years, following a a six-year restoration at a cost of £650,000.


South Western Railway’s Victorian-era steam locomotive T3 class No. 563

Swanage Railway

The London and South Western Railway’s T3 class No. 563 locomotive entered service in 1893, pulling passenger trains between London and England’s southwestern coast. At that time, Queen Victoria was still on the throne. By 1939, it had been earmarked for the scrapyard, but was saved from that ill fate by the outbreak of World War II, during which it was pressed back into service. Following the war, it was again saved from scrapping when it was featured as a central part of the centenary celebrations for London’s Waterloo station in 1948.

Fast forward to 2017, when the 81-tonne engine was donated to the Swanage Railway in Dorset. That railway was shut down by British Rail in 1972, but subsequently underwent a 30-year rebuilding project, as volunteers turned it into a tourist attraction. Following its own six-year renovation at the Flour Mill workshops in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire, No. 563 is coming back online just in time to help celebrate the 185th anniversary of the formation of the London and South Western Railway.

"No. 563 is a real time machine – a living and breathing example of the world when glamorous railways with their brightly painted and highly polished steam engines ruled supreme."
Nathan Au, volunteer driver and chairman of the 563 Locomotive Group

Ethan Waller, a fireman for the Swanage Railway, said that it was “an honour” to take the locomotive out on test runs. “It’s been fun to experiment and see how the engine responds, he said. “When you get it right and the engine’s happy, you’ve got the most stonking, fantastic day out you can have.”

Anthony Coulls, of the National Railway Museum, is glowing with excitement: “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.”

And Nathan Au, a volunteer driver and chairman of the 563 Locomotive Group, says that “No. 563 is a real time machine – a living and breathing example of the world when glamorous railways with their brightly painted and highly polished steam engines ruled supreme.”

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