On Thursday 16 May, over 100 pupils and several members of staff from Cheltenham College and Cheltenham College Junior School headed down to the Cheltenham Racecourse to view (and ride in) an 80 year old locomotive that was named after College back in the 1930s. It was a historic occasion, with a short ceremony being conducted by Henry Howard, Chairman of the GWR Trust and our Headmaster, Dr Alex Peterken. After the ceremony, the pupils boarded the steam train for a round trip of the railway; a fantastic opportunity for a hands-on physics lesson!
In the 1930s, a class of 40 steam locomotives (the last class in Britain to be designed with a 4-4-0 wheel arrangement and the most powerful class of 4-4-0 ever produced in Europe) were designed by Richard Maunsell for the Southern Railway. All 40 of the class were named after English public schools, including Cheltenham College. The Southern Railway used to take each new member of the 40 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, ‘Dulwich’ to Herne Hill station and so-on. But that never happened with ‘Cheltenham’, because the town’s stations weren’t on Southern territory. That omissions has now been put to rights!
The Cheltenham engine is owned by the National Railway Museum at York and it was returned to steam last year following an extensive overhaul funded by the Mid-Hants Railway, where it is now normally based. The engine will be part of the Cotswold Steam Celebration during 24 -27 May which is being organised by Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway. The event will be celebrating the once-again complete railway, which now offers a 25-mile round trip between Cheltenham Racecourse, Winchcombe, Toddington and Laverton. The line is planning to extend a further two-and-a-half miles to Broadway. For further information please visit: www.gwsr.com
Photos provided courtesy of Jack Boskett Photography (www.jackboskett.co.uk) and Dominic Faulkner, Director of Activities.