SR and BR Service


< 925 RO Front Cover >

925 Cheltenham was delivered from Eastleigh Works in April 1934 in sage green livery lined out with black and white, a small brass numberplate on the cab side with the larger, painted locomotive number 925 and the inscription SOUTHERN on the tender; the front buffer beam had No to the left of the coupling with 925 to the right. 925 was initially allocated to Fratton (Portsmouth) where, along with 924/6-9, it worked on the Waterloo and Portsmouth direct line; they were joined a few months later by 930-3 of the third batch. In July 1937, following electrification of the Portsmouth line, this batch of ten engines was transferred to Bournemouth where they worked heavy Waterloo trains including the 108 minute non-stop run of the pre-war "Bournemouth Limited".

In 1938 the new Southern Railway C.M.E. Bulleid experimented with various liveries. 925 was repainted in malachite green with the painted number moved to the cabside, a position which later became the Southern Railway standard. The number 925 remained on the buffer beam but No had been removed. New standard liveries were selected in 1939; the "Lord Nelson" and "Schools" classes were to be malachite green, as already carried by 925, lined out in yellow and dark green with green deflectors; other classes were to be in olive green.

[Note. An alternative report is that, as part of the experimental liveries, 925 was repainted olive green in May 1939; from July 1940 repaints were in malachite green and 925 received this livery at an unreported date between then and April 1942, when there was a shortage of this colour of paint.]

While in Eastleigh Works in May 1941, 925 was fitted with a Lemaitre multiple jet blastpipe but, as a hole hadn’t been cut in the smokebox for a larger diameter chimney, the new blastpipe was removed; this was because a decision had been made not to modify any more locomotives at that time. Twenty "Schools" had been modified between February 1939 and March 1941; the remaining twenty, including 925, remained unmodified for the rest of their working lives.

In April 1945 925 was transferred to Dover (RL, normally an excellent source for locomotive stock alterations, incorrectly reported this transfer as being to Folkestone) when, with its fellow class members, it was displaced by "Merchant Navy" and "Lord Nelson" class engines, upon the delivery of the second "Merchant Navy" batch. Upon arrival, Dover set to work polishing 924-7 before sending them out; within 48 hours they were the cleanest engines on the Eastern Section since 1942. 925 lost its green livery in September 1945, receiving a coat of unlined black paint at Eastleigh Works. It was reported in 1947 that Dover shed kept 925 spotlessly clean with shining motion and polished cab window beading and other fittings. In December 1947 925 was repainted malachite green, becoming the last of twenty five class members to be repainted before nationalisation; it was fortunate to be repainted thus as, the following year, standard liveries were defined with only the most powerful passenger engines receiving green livery.

In May 1950 Cheltenham received the new British Railways’ fully lined black livery and was renumbered 30925. As can be seen from the photograph, it now carries a smokebox door number plate but doesn’t yet appear to have a shed plate. It was transferred to Bricklayers Arms in May 1951, when there were so many Southern Region transfers for the start of the summer timetable that RO issued a special allocation supplement for that region.

In February 1960 30925 was seen in the yard of Ashford Works painted dark green after general repairs; it is likely that this was a livery change as several class members remained black until withdrawal. It was transferred to Stewarts Lane in February 1961 and on to Basingstoke in August 1961 where it remained, apart from being loaned to Nottingham in May 1962 to work a rail tour, until it was withdrawn in December 1962, when seventeen class members were withdrawn making the "Schools" class extinct in normal service. 30925 had run 1,127,788 miles between April 1934 and December 1962, one of the highest mileages achieved for its class.

Transfer information was very limited during World War II and for some time after, with Southern Railway transfers less regularly reported than the other main companies; I hope that no transfers have been missed. Cheltenham was stored on several occasions at less busy times of the year; details were reported in various issues of RO.

Cheltenham worked several special trains, see the Rail Tours and Royal Train page. Other notable workings reported were:-

A society fixture on 24th May 1936 visited the Isle of Wight; appropriately the return journey from Portsmouth Harbour to Waterloo was hauled by 925 Cheltenham.

In August 1949 925 was an unusual visitor to Hastings, "still Southern and fairly clean green".

"Schools" continued to appear at Exeter Central up to the end of the summer service. On 1st September 1962 30925 arrived three minutes early with ten coaches on the 10-15am ex-Waterloo, returning next day with the 11-0am (Sundays) to Waterloo.

  925 at Southampton Central on Bournemouth express. August 1938. Malachite green with Bulleid lettering and numerals. R.F. Roberts
It’s likely that 925’s regular driver F. Jeans would have been at the regulator.
  30925 in lined black livery, ex-Eastleigh Works. May 1950. W. Gilburt

Last updated: 10th March 2019