The Swanage Railway is celebrating after it won prestigious national awards at the Heritage Railway Association's Annual Awards evening at Brighton in East Sussex on Saturday, 10 February, for their restoration of Adams T3 Class No. 563.
The restoration cost £650,000, and the 563 Locomotive Group were rewarded with the Heritage Railway Association Chairman's Special Award and the Association's Steam Railway Magazine Readers' Award.
Both awards came just days after the Purbeck Business Awards when the Swanage Railway won the Business of the Year Award for its contribution to tourism on the Isle of Purbeck, from The Total Guide to Tourism.
Heritage Railway Association vice-chairman Chris Price and Steam Railway deputy editor Thomas Bright presented the awards to the 563 Locomotive Group chairman Nathan Au at the awards evening.
After restoration, No. 563 resplendent in its lined-out 1890s Drummond passenger green livery was officially unveiled in a special ceremony at Swanage station last October.
Almost all of the £650,000 cost of restoration came from donations by railway enthusiasts. Last month, No. 563 hauled its first freight train since 1945 during a special Winter Warm Up weekend on the Swanage Railway.
A six-year restoration of the T3 was carried out by specialist contractors at the Flour Mill engineering workshops in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire, and at the Swanage Railway's Herston engineering works.
563 Locomotive Group chairman Nathan Au said: “We are delighted to have won these two Heritage Railway Association awards and I would like to thank everyone who voted for the T3 project which has been fulfilling while also being challenging at times.
“We are also very grateful to everyone who has been involved with the T3's restoration for their hard work and commitment as well as to our supporters for their donations, contributions and faith in the six-year project that turned a non-working exhibit into a fully working steam locomotive from the late Victorian era.
“It was a thrill to see the T3 steam for the first time and drive the locomotive when it hauled its first passenger trains since 1945 – experiencing what it was like to be a Victorian engineman.”
Swanage Railway Trust chairman Frank Roberts explained: “The Swanage Railway Trust is thrilled to have won these two prestigious awards from the Heritage Railway Association which reflect the achievement and professionalism of the T3 restoration.
“I would like to thank the National Railway Museum for its faith in donating the T3 to the Swanage Railway Trust so the Victorian locomotive could be fully restored so the public can enjoy it hauling passenger trains for the first time since 1945.
“Had it not been for the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939, and then the celebrations marking the centenary of London's Waterloo station, No. 563 – the last of the T3s – would have been cut up for scrap metal.
“The T3 is a time machine, a living and breathing machine when glamorous railways ruled supreme with their brightly painted and highly polished steam locomotives. When No. 563 was born, the motor car was a curiosity and the first aeroplane had yet to fly. Railways powered by steam dominated the movement of people and freight.
“By the time the T3 was retired after the Second World War, the transport landscape had changed forever; the dawn of mass motoring was on the horizon and aircraft were crossing the world.”