WHAT WE ASKED
These were the questions that we put to the NRM: Is the NRM seeking to further reduce the number of locomotives in the National Collection and, if so, why? Are there discussions in progress now or proposed for the near future with other preservation interests, on transferring ownership of other locomotives and items of rolling stock from the National Collection? Which locomotives in the National Collection are under consideration for disposal? Are any large exhibits or locomotives in the National Collection available for sale? Did an approach for the ‘T3’ come from the Swanage Railway, or did the NRM make the first move to offer it for potential disposal? What assurances did the NRM seek from the Swanage Railway regarding its future management of the ‘T3’? If you haven’t previously valued the locomotive, what is the NRM’s insurance value of the ‘T3’? Why was the disposal of the ‘T3’ not carried out in accordance with the [Museums Association’s] advice to “carry out disposal openly” and “keep the public informed of plans relating to the disposal of items through the press and media”? Will plans for any future disposal of locomotives from the National Collection be carried out in a public and transparent manner, as the toolkit advises?
...and how the nrm replied
“The National Railway Museum take our public responsibility to preserve and protect our railway heritage and the National Collection very seriously. Increasing public access to our collection is one of our key priorities. As such, we carefully follow rigorous procedure as part of our approach to maintain, update and increase access to the National Collection. The decision to gift the T3 locomotive to Swanage Railway followed the Science Museum Group’s policy for disposals (available on our website) and it received approval from the Board of Survey and our Trustees after extensive review. In line with legislation including the National Heritage Act 1983, we have a duty to ensure that we do not keep items that are no longer relevant to or suitable for our collection. We recognised we have a number of 4-4-0 type locomotives in the collection, mostly from the VictorianEdwardian era, which had resulted in an imbalance in the collection of steam locomotives from this period. In observing due process, we concluded gifting the T3 class No. 563 locomotive to a well-respected heritage railway line and one with a rich historical connection, would enable it to be enjoyed by the public for future generations. With Swanage, the T3 locomotive has a history of working in this area and the Swanage Railway has an outstanding track record for preserving and displaying items, something which is paramount to the National Railway Museum. We are delighted that the engine will remain accessible to the public at the Swanage Railway and will be well looked after. We understand and appreciate that this may disappoint some people, however the decision was made following due process and was very carefully considered, with the best interests of maintaining and improving the overall collection and to ensure that as many people as possible across the UK can continue to enjoy and share the rich history of our railways. Guided by the ‘Museum Association Code of Ethics and Disposal Toolkit’ we work to keep the public informed through press and media. With the T3, we worked in partnership with the Swanage Railway to pro-actively promote the gifting and to make people aware through our respective communication channels.”