RO June 1950 Article


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The Railway Observer for January, 1936, appeared with a new cover design by Mr. George Grigs which incorporated a fine drawing of the "Schools" class engine, S.R. 925 Cheltenham, by Mr. R.K. Richardson. As is well known, this engine was chosen because Cheltenham was the town where the Society was founded in 1928 by Messrs. Broad and Lapper.

January, 1950’s Railway Observer showed 30925 in British Railways’ livery – a revised drawing and new block having been used for the first time. Revisions were based on official information which was, as regards the livery premature, as regards the snifting valves out-of-date, and as regards the multiple jet large diameter chimney futuristic ! * In the circumstances a brief illustrated history of the Society’s adopted engine is very appropriate.

* As recorded on page 136, June 1941 R.O., No 925 was in fact fitted with a multiple jet blast pipe in 1941, but was reconverted before leaving Eastleigh Works.

925 was the sixteenth engine built to Order E361 at Eastleigh Works and entered traffic in April, 1934. As a member of the most powerful class of 4-4-0’s in Europe, 925 is one of Mr. R. E. L. Maunsell’s design of Class V engines. Three 16 1/2in.x26in. cylinders are supplied by steam from the boiler which has a round-topped firebox and is pressed to 220 lbs./sq. in. The water heating surface totals 1,766 sq. ft. made up of 1,604 sq. ft. of tube surface and 162 sq. ft. of firebox surface. A moderate superheating surface of 283 sq. ft. is provided and the driving wheel diameter is 6 ft. 7 in. The tractive effort at 85 per cent of the boiler pressure in 25,130 lbs., which gives a high power/adhesion ratio in view of the low adhesive weight of 42 tons. A six-wheeled tender is provided of 4,000 gallon capacity which was on the small side for the non-stop Waterloo to Bournemouth runs.

When new 925 to was allocated to Fratton (Portsmouth) shed where, with 924/6-33 it worked on the Waterloo and Portsmouth direct line. For four years these ten engines did good work of the tight 90 minute schedule over the undulating 74-mile route, with heavy banks up to Haslemere and Buriton and its slacks for Havant, Guildford and Woking junctions. In July, 1937, following electrification of the Portsmouth route, 925 went, with its nine fellows, to Bournemouth shed, there to achieve fame and success on the heavy Waterloo trains, including the 108-minute non-stop run of the pre-war "Bournemouth Limited".

In July, 1938, 925 was one of seven engines which appeared in the new malachite green livery with the engine number transferred to the cab side from the tender, the arrangement which later became S.R. standard. The bright green engines and carriages were a pleasing feature of the August, 1938 holiday traffic to Bournemouth.

925 Cheltenham remained at Bournemouth until April, 1945 when, with its fellows, it was transferred from the Western Section, having been displaced by "Merchant Navy" and "Lord Nelson" class engines.

925 went to Dover shed, but soon lost its malachite green livery for in September, 1945 , a coat of black paint, unlined, was applied at Eastleigh.

However, in January, 1948, Cheltenham again appeared resplendent ex-works in malachite green livery, with snifting valves removed. On 13th May, 1950, Cheltenham, now renumbered 30925, emerged from the works in the new British Railways’ black livery with full lining, but unfortunately, for our cover drawing, with an original chimney ! The frontispiece to this issue shows the Society’s engine in its present condition – a beautifully finished product of the painters and in such superlative condition that the Society could but feel proud of its adopted engine.

(The author of this excellent article wasn’t named.)

Last updated: 10th March 2019