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The scope of this photo gallery has been expanded to include 925/30925 Cheltenham, which can be considered to be the first of 'Our Locos' since Cheltenham was the first branch of the society; for many years until December 1972 a line drawing of this locomotive appeared on the front cover of the society's monthly magazine The Railway Observer (RO).
By 1927 the heaviest expresses on the Southern Railway were well served by post-Grouping 4-6-0s, but no modern class existed to haul intermediate expresses. Maunsell's "Schools" class was introduced in 1930, as a cut down version of the "Lord Nelson" class, which proved capable of hauling all except the heaviest expresses, although a six-wheeled tender of 4,000 gallon capacity was on the small side for the non-stop Waterloo to Bournemouth runs. An unexpected bonus was that the round-topped firebox allowed the cab profile to be adapted to suit the Hastings line loading gauge; the upper plates of the tender were also slanted in.
"Schools" were built at Eastleigh Works in three batches. The first batch was built in 1930 at the bargain price of £ 6,930 each. 925 Cheltenham, the sixteenth engine of the second batch, was delivered in April 1934. Immediately after delivery the first batch E900-E909 were displayed for a short time at stations close to the schools after which they were named; it is thought that this only applied to this first batch, there is no report in 1934 issues of RO of this happening in Cheltenham. It should be noted that 925 was named after the boys' school Cheltenham College, not the possibly better known girls' school Cheltenham Ladies College.
An excellent article in RO June 1950 gives detailed dimensions for "Schools" locomotives, together with information on Cheltenham's livery, allocations and main workings.
The text for the Cheltenham pages has been compiled from RO starting with the 1934 issues and continuing until 1963 and from the RCTS book Locomotives of the Southern Railway, part 1. Some photographs and front cover images have been scanned from these issues and one photograph from the book. Railway Locomotives (RL), the monthly magazine of the former British Locomotive Society has also been used as a source for allocation information. Thanks to Jeremy Harrison for his assistance in providing material for the 925 Cheltenham section.
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