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.
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.
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.
She was initially withdrawn on 9th March 1939 after a failure on the Fawley goods, before being repaired and reinstated in November 1939 due to WWII.
She survived in further use until August 1945 and withdrawn and put into storage, despite being stored at Kimbridge Junction to await scrapping at Dinton.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).
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.
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.
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.