#onthisday William Adams 200th Birthday. His T3 class enters service again

Today the 15th October marks the 200th birthday of William Adams (15 October 1823 – 7 August 1904). He was the Locomotive Superintendent of the North London Railway from 1858 to 1873; the Great Eastern Railway from 1873 until 1878 and then of course the  London and South Western Railway until his retirement in 1895.

Appropriately, and not coincidentally,  this month has seen two William Adams related events.

Firstly, the publication of a new comprehensive biography “William Adams: His Life and Locomotives: A Life in Engineering 1823-1904” by John Woodhams and published by Pen & Sword Transport.
During his time on the LSWR over five hundred locomotives were built to his designs, including many graceful 4-4-0 express classes regarded by many as his greatest achievement. Adams also proved himself a very capable designer in developing locomotive and carriage works at all three railways, improving efficiency and reducing costs.

This book covers his early years, time on the North london and Great Eastern Railways along with his successful time on the LSWR vastly improving locomotive and carriage fleets.  It includes a summary of all his locomotove designs and his legacy covering the preserved Adams locomotives, including T3 Class No. 563 detailed below. Overall it tells the story of a genial man with a love of music, who was undoubtedly one of the finest late Victorian locomotive engineers, and is well worth a read.

The graceful lines of the T3 Class 563 at Norden on the Swanage Railway 7th October 2023

Secondly, and one close to my heart, as I have been assisting the Swanage Railway Trust 563 Locomotive Group,  the completion of the restoration of LSWR Adams  4-4-0 T3 Class Number 563.

This 130 year engine was last steamed on 11th June 1948, albeit at a low pressure of 25psi to move from Micheldever to Waterloo to be on display as part of the Waterloo centenary celebrations.

First introduced in March 1893 she initial worked  from Nine Elms before spells being allocated to Guildford from 1905 and  Salisbury from September 1935.

The Drummond livery looking great in the sunshine as she awaits to run round the first train on 7th October 2023

She was initially withdrawn on 9th March 1939 after a failure on the Fawley goods, before being repaired and reinstated in November 1939 due to WWII.

She survived in further use until August 1945 and withdrawn and put into storage, despite being stored at Kimbridge Junction to await scrapping at Dinton.

She was thankfully reprieved (by Bulleid) in January 1948 and restored into Adams condition wearing Drummond livery for the Waterloo celebrations in June and July 1948 (the 11th July being the actual anniversary date).

563 approaches Woodyhyde Lane between Harman’s Cross and Corfe castle on the first public passenger service 08/10/23

She along with ex LBSC A1 Terrier ‘Boxhill’ was a regular at works and shed open days during the 1950s. She underwent a further refurbishment, mainly to the underframe and running gear, but not the boiler or the life expired firebox in August 1559 emerging in Adams livery.

She entered the National Collection 25th January 1961.

563 spent many years  on display firstly at the Clapham Museum before relocation to the National Railway Museum at York then Locomotion at Shildon and subsequently being a theater prop in a production of the Railway Children at the ex Waterloo International Platforms and incredibly Toronto Canada.

563 is a fine sight between Harmans Cross and Corfe Castle 09/10/23

The next major milestone was in March 2017  when ownership was bravely and controversially at the time transferred to the newly formed Swanage Railway Trust 563 Locomotive Group with the intention to restore her back to working condition.

Following a six year project to raise funds, in excess of £650K and carry out the restoration, including a brand new copper inner firebox, 563 has steamed again for the first time since 1948 and last weekend (7th/8th October) hauled passengers for the first time for over 78 years.

563 approaches Corfe Castle viaduct 08/10/23

A magnificent achievement by all involved with the Swanage Railway Trust 563 Locomotive Group and the vision of the Senior Curator, Anthony Coulls, of the National Railway Museum, that  has certainly proved naysayers and vocal complainants of the time wrong, that has enabled the wonderful restoration to working order of 563 as can be seen in the pictures on this post. I am honoured to have been able to play a small part in her restoration assisting the Swanage Railway Trust 563 Locomotive Group with some archive research,  drawings and livery advice.
Overall both the book and especially the T3 restoration are a fitting tribute to William Adams on what would be his 200th Birthday today.

6 thoughts on “#onthisday William Adams 200th Birthday. His T3 class enters service again

  1. A day to celebrate indeed!

    I wonder if William Adams ever considered that one of his T3 locomotives could in steam today?
    Well done to the Swanage Railway and all those who made it happen….

    Thank you for the heads-up about the book!

  2. Well written Graham. It has certainly been a privilege to have helped in 563’s restoration and was a very pleasurable day on the 7th. of October to ride behind her on her launch day for members.
    Thank you for providing valuable insight and advice to the 563 Locomotive Group for her restoration. She truly looks wonderful, resplendent in Drummond livery.
    Hopefully one day we might see a OO model of the T3 Class.

  3. I used to know, from my workplace, the spouse of a descendant of William Adams who lived in Ascot or thereabouts. (It was a long time ago!). I recall when visiting their home that for people not nominally interested in railways a painting of a T3 on their living room wall was unexpected, and they then brought out some old letters of his and were most eager to talk about the Adams locos.

  4. Muz, what is your view on the company loyalty of Victorian railwaymen? In The GWR most the CMEs climbed the ladder from the drawing office all the way to the top. The only one I can think of left to better things was Stanier but he may have felt he had reached as far as he could go in the GWR. But Adams worked for three different companies.

    1. Hi Simon,

      I don’t think it it any different to today really, many engineers of the time moved from company to company to progress their career, often having been approached via senior personnel (the then head hunting) including H Holcroft moving from the GWR to SECR to work under Maunsell. Watkin of the SR approached Gresley to request Bulleid to attend an interview etc.
      With there being more separate companies in the victorian era, and many CMEs staying in position until retirement or ill health, one of the only ways to progress a career was to move between companies.

  5. It’s great to see this loco steaming again, and proving the doubters wrong. I happen to own a very fine 5″ gauge model of one of these which can be viewed in the Milestones museum in Basingstoke if anyone wants to view something between OO and full size. It was built by Mr. A.N.F. (Bert) Brock, family friend, who lived in the Isle of Wight.

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