In a change to the scheduled post, tonight I wanted to share with my followers my first proper look of recently restored Schools class 925 Cheltenham, that I was fortunate to catch today in a rather sunny Ropley loco yard. Restored to working order in Eastleigh works (the locomotive’s birthplace) in just two years; it looked stunning in bright malachite green. The locomotive is owned by the National Railway museum who clearly have developed a good working relationship with the Watercress line, given that the railway will know be host to two members of the collection (the other being 850 Lord Nelson).
The schools class is arguably Richard Maunsell’s finest work. Maunsell was Chief Mechanical Engineer (CME) of the South Eastern and Chatham Railway from 1913 and then of Southern Railway from 1923 until retirement in 1937. The class was developed to provide a powerful intermediate Express locomotive on lines with a restricted loading gauge and/or short turntables that could cope with high axle loads. In particular; the highly restricted Tonbridge to Hastings’ line needed a powerful type and the schools performed fantastically. It is regarded as the pinnacle of 4-4-0 development; being both the last type of this wheel arrangement built and also the most powerful; something that was helped by it having three cylinders. British Railway later classified it as a 5P rating; very impressive for a 4-40.
I am very excited that she will be in steam this coming weekend! I’ve yet to see a schools class in steam, so it will be a real privilege to see it working at the Watercress line. I hope you like these photographs taken earlier today. Also included are some pictures of other locomotives to be found in the yard (that includes BR standard 9F 92212) with both 850 Lord Nelson and West Country class 34007 Wadebridge working service trains. I have also produced a short video clip; click here to view it.