Railway fans have launched a £40,000 fundraising appeal to see a Victorian steam locomotive hauling passenger carriages for the first time in 75 years.
Volunteers at Swanage Railway have spent the past six years restoring the T3 class engine, which dates back to 1893.
Now the 563 Locomotive Group is attempting to raise £40,000 to enable the completion of a £500,000 project to return the locomotive to action.
The T3 No. 563 engine was withdrawn from regular service by the Southern Railway Company in 1945 and last pulled carriages in 1948, the same year it took part in celebrations for London Waterloo station’s centenary.
The locomotive was donated in 2017 by the National Railway Museum to the Swanage Railway Trust.
The trust hopes to complete restorationwork in time for it to haul passenger carriages between Swanage and Wareham this autumn.
The engine is being refurbished at the Flour Mill workshops in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire.
Steve Doughty, treasurer of the 563 Locomotive Group, described the project as “unique and historically important”.
He said: “The T3 class of steam locomotive hauled trains from London down to Corfe Castle and Swanage from the 1890s to the 1930s.
“The restoration back to full working order of No. 563 gives us the opportunity to show our visitors what the railway was like during Dorset’s industrial and social development in the 19th century.”
Anyone wanting to make a donation can visit 563locomotivegroup.co.uk for more information.
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