563 during a Timeline Events photo charter at Corfe Castle by Nathan Au

Why is No.563 so special to the Swanage Railway?

Designed by Williams Adams, London and South Western Railway T3 No.563 became part of the Swanage Railway Trust collection in March 2017.  It is the only steam locomotive which is owned outright by the Swanage Railway Trust. 

The locomotive tells an important story of railway, industrial and social development in Dorset at the turn of the 19th century. 

Before the arrival of the railway, Swanage was a fishing port and export point for Purbeck stone by sea. The arrival of the railway in 1885 transformed the town into a bustling, seaside resort and that legacy remains to this day.  The social and economic impact of the railway arriving in Purbeck was earth shattering. It changed the landscape, added a  beautiful viaduct, crossed heathland and countryside creating one of the most breathtaking Railways in the UK.


What makes No.563 so unique?

Built in 1893, No.563 was part of the famous T3 class designed by William Adams in 1891. Twenty of the T3 locomotives were built with No. 563 being the only survivor of its class.

No.563 is also special because it is the last express passenger tender locomotive designed by the celebrated William Adams. No one has seen an example of this type of locomotive in steam since 1945.

The T3 locomotives were recorded working from London Waterloo to Swanage. Hauling trains of holiday makers, Swanage grew to the town that it is today and No.563 was a part of that development.


So what has happened to No.563 thus far and what’s next?

Previously owned by the National Railway Museum, No. 563 was donated to the Swanage Railway Trust in March 2017. From day one we have always been harbouring an ambition to return No.563 to steam.

Now No.563 forms an important part of our future motive power plans, it fills a gap in our story and allows us to show our visitors what locomotives and travel were like at the turn of the 19th century. It provides a direct link to the past. 

On Monday 13th of November 2017, 563 departed the Swanage Railway and headed to the Flour Mill workshop in the Forest of Dean. This workshop has a proven track record of restoring Victorian and Edwardian steam locomotives and we are delighted to be working with them to develop a sustainable plan that will ensure no.563 steams again.

After being stored over the winter, it under went an overhaul assessment in 2018, thanks to a successful Crowdfunding campaign.

However its return to steam really hinges on the ability to raise funds for the extensive works required to enable No.563 to return to steam.

What challenges do we face?

Having not steamed for over 70 years, this project is ground breaking. Its return to steam will tell us even more about its history and enable us to show a Victorian express passenger locomotive actually running and hauling trains on a railway that it was built to run on. This will create a living piece of history. However, it will be a challenging restoration, the boiler is known to be in poor condition and we are bound to uncover issues that are at present hidden. 


I don’t live near the Swanage Railway, will I be able to see it elsewhere?

In time, we hope to share 563 with as many people as possible and aim to make the locomotive accessible to all. The locomotive will travel to other heritage railways all over the country from time to time. This will help it tell the story of the London and South Western Railway and to become an ambassador for our local area.


Is £650,000 enough? 

The initial anticipated cost of returning No.563 to steam was £350,000 and to help kick start the project, the Swanage Railway Trust’s committed £30,000 for all the copper required to construct the new inner firebox.

As a consequence of COVID-19, the overhaul has been slightly delayed and we’ve since had to renew additional components outside of the original scope. To date, we’ve raised over £300,000 of the revised £650,000 target to complete the engine and tender.

In the meantime we are also trying to apply for grant funding to help cover some of the costs of the restoration. Grant giving trusts and bodies have stringent requirements for doing this. To make successful applications we must show that we are serious and capable of match funding our project.

If we are seen to be sitting on our hands waiting for grants or hand outs, we will be refused so continued and successful fundraising is utterly vital.

Every single donation is a vote of confidence for No. 563 to return to steam. The more people we can reach, the more likely we are to succeed. If you are thinking of donating now is the time to join us and be part of this exciting journey.

Boiler removed and inner firebox extracted for inspection at the Flour Mill, Forest of Dean.

How can I help?

We hope that you are able to generously support this exciting project. Your contribution will ensure that a return to steam will be possible and once again, 563 will return to Swanage Railway as a working, living locomotive.  A living piece of history will be created. 

We can then show future generations about how rail transport changed the world and how No.563 contributed to the modern world of today. Preservation is more than just making a locomotive steam, its about linking yesterday to today. 

All donations no matter how small show that our support base is building. Every pound counts so even if you can only give a little, it will all be gratefully received. Remember to gift aid if you can!

EVERY donor no matter how small or large will be treated to exclusive news content, future access and the satisfaction of being part of something truly unique. 

Larger donations will be gratefully accepted by the team. Major donors are directly managed by 563LG Deputy Chair, Matt McManus. Considering a larger donation? Don’t hesitate to get in contact with matt.mcmanus@swanagerailway.co.uk and he will discuss a range of incentives to make justifying your larger donation that little bit easier!



Thank you.

No.563 is wholly owned by the Swanage Railway Trust, registered charity No.1087318. All funds generated in this fundraising effort are ring fenced for overhaul and conservation costs of LSWR T3, No.563. 


Project Manager, Matt McManus with 563 before heading to the Flour Mill for assessment in November 2017.

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