'925 Cheltenham' at Cheltenham

'925 Cheltenham' at Cheltenham

On Thursday 16 May at the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway’s Cheltenham Racecourse, staff and pupils will gather to see a locomotive named after the school back in the 1930s.   

At this time, eight decades ago, the Southern Railway had 40 Schools class engines built – all named after leading Public Schools. The Southern Railway used to take each new member of the Schools class engines to the station closest to the school after it was named, if it could.   

‘Eton’ went to Eton & Windsor station; ‘Brighton’ to Brighton, ‘Charterhouse’ to Farncombe station; but that never happened with ‘Cheltenham’ because the town’s stations weren’t part of the Southern Railways territory.   

Now, 79 years on and as part of the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway ‘Cotswold Steam Celebration’ over the May Bank Holiday (24 – 27 May) locomotive no. 925 ‘Cheltenham’ will be on loan from the Southern Railway.   

Dr Alex Peterken, Headmaster of Cheltenham College, commented:    

“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 Trust 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 are using this unique opportunity to encourage pupils to learn about steam trains and the engineering of ‘Cheltenham’. More than 50 pupils, staff and Govennors are looking forward to the short ceremony to be held at Cheltenham Racecourse station before taking a round trip on a train hauled by ‘Cheltenham’.  

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