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Cheltenham College meet Cheltenham


article by: SJO
posted on: 16 May 2013
updated on: 19 June 2013

Schools Class 'Cheltenham' meeting staff and pupils from Cheltenham College at Cheltenham in 2013 (Photo:Jack Boskett)
Schools Class 'Cheltenham' meeting staff and pupils from Cheltenham College at Cheltenham in 2013 (Photo:Jack Boskett)   Click to view larger version

Schools Class 'Brighton' meeting staff and pupils from Brighton School at Brighton in 1933
Schools Class 'Brighton' meeting staff and pupils from Brighton School at Brighton in 1933

Staff and students from Cheltenham College with their locomotive at Cheltenham Racecourse Station (Photo: Jack Boskett)
Staff and students from Cheltenham College with their locomotive at Cheltenham Racecourse Station (Photo: Jack Boskett)   Click to view larger version

Under blue skies and warm sunshine an historic event took place on the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway at its Cheltenham Racecourse station on Thursday 16th May 2013. 

The occasion saw the Headmaster, staff and pupils from Cheltenham College visit the railway to take part in a short ceremony with 'their' 79-year-old steam locomotive, Southern Railway no. 925 Cheltenham.  The 'Schools' class locomotives were named after famous public schools and the railway company took them to stations near the schools after which they were named so that staff and pupils could inspect them.  So while that happened with locomotives such as Brighton (see photo), Eton, Charterhouse, Harrow and so-on, it never happened with Cheltenham.  So that omission was put to rights today. 

On arrival at Cheltenham Racecourse station the loco was inspected by the pupils. A welcome from GWRT Chairman Henry Howard and Dr Alex Peterken the Headmaster was followed by a return trip to Winchcombe by more than 50 pupils, staff and Governors. This proved to be a day on many firsts as a good number of the pupils and school staff had never been so close to a steam engine or even travelled behind one.

Historic link with College

Dr Alex Peterken, Headmaster of Cheltenham College, said that he was aware of the history of the engine and proud of its connection to the school. 

"Back in the 1930s, the Southern Railway contacted Cheltenham College to ask for permission to name the locomotive. The Headmaster at the time, Richard Roseveare, agreed and no. 925 'Cheltenham' was born.

In those days, locomotives were a fundamental mode of transport for pupils travelling to and from boarding schools. To name them after famous independent schools was a quirky but fascinating initiative and we are proud to have 925 'Cheltenham' as part of our heritage.

I would like to thank the GWR for their concerted efforts to bring the locomotive to Cheltenham, not only righting the eight-decade omission but also giving our pupils an insight into the engineering aspect of steam trains."

Both Cheltenham College and Cheltenham College Junior School took advantage of the invitation from the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway to open up the historical event to the pupils, including running a Year Three physics class to find out how 'Cheltenham' works.

More than 50 pupils, staff and Governors attended a short ceremony at Cheltenham Racecourse station before taking a round trip on a train hauled by 'Cheltenham'.

On returning to Cheltenham Racecourse station the pupils were treated to the opportunity to climb aboard the footplate and see for themselves the controls of this magnificent machine. It goes without saying that a good number of the college staff also seized this opportunity as well!

Jack Boskett was on hand to take photos for not only the railway but a number of railway publications too. Also on hand were other members of the media to record the event.

Locomotive Cheltenham is visiting the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway to take part in the Cotswold Steam Celebration over the Bank Holiday weekend, 24-27 May.  Owned by the National Railway Museum in York, Cheltenham was restored to steam last year at the expense of the Mid Hants Railway, where the engine is usually based.  This is the first time that Cheltenham has ever visited the town of Cheltenham.

Schools Class locomotives: Historic note

The three-cylinder 'Schools' class locomotives were designed by R E L Maunsell, chief mechanical engineer of the Southern Railway, the first, no. 900 'Eton', being completed in 1930.  They were the last 4-4-0 wheel-arrangement design in Britain and the most powerful of that type in Europe.  They were reliable, economical and powerful and very popular amongst drivers and firemen.  They could be found throughout the Southern Railway system, but growing electrification during the late 1950s and early 1960s led to their withdrawal.  One of the last was 'Cheltenham', which was reserved for preservation and acquired by the National Railway Museum.  In 2010 the engine was taken from York Railway Museum and moved to Eastleigh in Hampshire, where it was built in 1934, for a complete overhaul and in 2012 it was returned to steam.  It is now resident on the Mid-Hants Railway.  The GWR is grateful to the Mid-Hants Railway for its loan.








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