A magical day out - a farewell to Schools class Cheltenham 30925 to mark her withdrawal at the end of her 10 year boiler certificate.
The Autumn Steam Gala at The Watercress Line was set to celebrate the much loved 30925 Cheltenham with the home fleet of steam locomotives out in force. This it did in style. Here she is climbing up into Ropley.
It took me by surprise when the MHR announced its Autumn Steam Gala was in honour of the withdrawal of 30925 as I could not fathom that 10 years had passed since I had attended her first Autumn Steam Gala where she was the star attraction, fresh from a major overhaul started in the Eastleigh Works and completed by the MHR themselves. Turned out this was back in September 2012, sheesh!
30925's type were the most powerful 4-4-0 locomotives to operate in this country and were a highly successful design, used for passenger and freight duties. Thus Cheltenham was a stalwart of the Watercress line fleet and adept at climbing the steep 1 in 60 gradient either side of Meadstead and Fourmarks station often described as ‘going over the Alps’ by footplate crews.
Cheltenham is one of only three of the Schools class preserved after their withdrawal from service by BR in 1962 the other two being Stowe on static display at the Bluebell Line and Repton at the North York Moors Railway where she is currently in service. What happens now to Cheltenham seems to be a bit of a mystery as she is owned by the National Railway Museum at York as part of the National Collection and has only been "allocated" by them to the MHR these past ten years. So I wonder who is responsible for her next overhaul if any and where she will end up now?