SWANAGE Railway Trust officials have been “staggered” by the overwhelming public response to their £50,000 appeal for money to return LSWR T3 4-4-0 No. 563 to steam – after nearly £43,000 was raised within just six weeks.
As of December 3, the appeal fund stood at £42,397.22 – with more money coming in by the day.
The appeal is the start of public fundraising should a restoration to full working order be possible for No. 563. Long-term plans are to match the T3 with three historically-appropriate coaches currently on the Purbeck line, to create a heritage train.
On November 13, in a move sponsored by an unnamed benefactor, No. 563 was taken by low-loader from the railway to Bill Parker’s Flour Mill workshops at Bream in the Forest of Dean – accomplished experts in the restoration of Victorian locomotives including LSWR T9 4-4-0 No. 30120 and the two surviving LSWR Beattie well tanks plus Metropolitan Railway E class 0-4-4T No. 1.
Next year the T3 will be stripped down in the workshop and fully examined to establish if restoring it to full working order is possible mechanically and financially.
So far, the appeal, which has also been posted on our www.facebook.com/heritage railway page, has exceeded all expectations in the run-up to Christmas.
As widely reported, controversy surrounded the transfer of ownership of the locomotive from the National Railway Museum to the Purbeck line on March 30, on the basis that it was wrong to give away National Collection stock.
However, the small print in the deal ruled that if the recipient at any time wishes to dispose of it, the locomotive must be offered back to the museum first of all – giving a form of “arm’s length” National Collection protection.
During a House of Commons debate on October 25, about the disposal of National Collection items, John Glen, Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, supported the museum’s decision and spoke of the bid to restore the T3 to running order.
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