THREE years and a £350,000 makeover later, a 1940s steam train has returned to the tracks.

A classic 1940s express steam locomotive has returned to Swanage Railway after an extensive £350,000 overhaul by its owners - Southern Locomotives Limited - which restored 'Eddystone' from a rusting scrapyard hulk to a gleaming machine.

On Monday, the 96-tonne train was taken by road from the Swanage Railway's engineering works at Herston, near Swanage but not rail connected, to the heritage railway's road-rail interchange where it was towed nearly six miles to Swanage station.

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Swanage and Wareham Voice: Eddystone is back on track after a £350,000 restoration Andrew P. M WrightEddystone is back on track after a £350,000 restoration Andrew P. M Wright

After a period of testing, railway bosses hope to have the train, built in 1946, hauling trains between Swanage, Corfe Castle and Norden by the early summer.

Simon Troy, of Southern Locomotives Limited, said: "The transfer of Eddystone from Herston Works to the Swanage Railway is the culmination of three years hard work by the staff and volunteers of Southern Locomotives Limited."

During the 1950s and 1960s, Eddystone was based at Bournemouth and hauled trains on the London to Weymouth line as well as the Somerset and Dorset line between Broadstone, Blandford, Templecombe and Bath.

Swanage and Wareham Voice: Eddystone is back on track after a £350,000 restoration Andrew P. M WrightEddystone is back on track after a £350,000 restoration Andrew P. M Wright

Rescued from the Barry scrapyard in South Wales – where it languished for 22 years after being withdrawn from British Railways service in 1964 – the restoration of Eddystone began in 1986 and was completed in 2003 with the gleaming locomotive hauling its first train on the Swanage Railway in the autumn of that year.

Eddystone hauled passenger trains on the Swanage Railway for 10 years before being taken out of traffic in 2014 for a major overhaul that took three years to complete and started in 2018.

The restoration was delayed after Southern Locomotives was forced to close for several months while the country was in lockdown due to the Covid pandemic. Despite the delay, railway bosses are thrilled with the standard Eddystone has been restored to.

Swanage and Wareham Voice: Eddystone is back on track after a £350,000 restoration Andrew P. M WrightEddystone is back on track after a £350,000 restoration Andrew P. M Wright

Swanage Railway locomotive, carriage and wagon director Kevin Potts said: "Eddystone looks fantastic after much hard work from a relatively small team of staff and volunteers at Southern Locomotives.

"Despite delays caused by Covid-19 – and subject to restrictions in working practices – the overhaul has been completed to a high standard."

For more information, visit the Swanage Railway website.