A Victorian steam locomotive has hauled carriages for the first time in 78 years.

The T3 class No. 563 engine, which dates back to 1893, was relaunched on the Swanage Railway in Dorset after a six-year renovation costing £650,000.

In October, it pulled carriages with supporters of the project onboard, followed by fare-paying members of the public on Sunday.

No. 563 was withdrawn from regular service by the Southern Railway Company in 1945.

Great British Life: T3 class No. 563 engine at Swanage stationT3 class No. 563 engine at Swanage station (Image: Andrew P.M. Wright/Swanage Railway)

It took part in celebrations for London Waterloo station’s centenary three years later.

The locomotive was donated in 2017 by the National Railway Museum to the Swanage Railway Trust.

READ MORE: The Isle of Purbeck in Dorset rejoins mainline rail network

Will Sheret, a volunteer for the 563 Locomotive Group, which oversaw the restoration, was responsible for powering the locomotive on Saturday.

He said: “It was great fun and wonderful to see so many T3 supporters and donors enjoying No. 563 and the Swanage Railway – a day that I could have scarcely imagined three years ago when we restarted the project after the end of the Covid-19 lockdowns.

Great British Life: T3 class No. 563 engine passing Corfe CastleT3 class No. 563 engine passing Corfe Castle (Image: Andrew P.M. Wright/Swanage Railway)

“It was brilliant to enjoy the honour of firing the T3 on its first passenger train since 1945.

“It was somewhat of an adjustment compared to our bigger resident steam locomotives on the Swanage Railway like our 1940s Bulleid Pacifics.

“With a smaller boiler, you have to focus and be on top of the job at all times but it’s a real privilege to fire a Victorian locomotive hauling passenger trains.”

Anthony Coulls, senior curator of the National Railway Museum, said: “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.”

Swanage Railway Trust patron Sir Philip Williams, whose great-grandfather was on the board of the London and South Western Railway Company that designed and built No. 563, said: “The T3 is a magnificent and supremely elegant locomotive – a wonderful living exemplar of the great age of steam in the territory for which she was designed.”