It was a great privilege and with much pleasure that yesterday 16th May I was able to represent our railway at the Race Course station when we hosted a visit by pupils and staff from Cheltenham College.
The purpose of the visit was to correct an omission from 79 years ago, when it was not possible due to inter company rivalry for Schools Class No 925 Cheltenham to visit the town to formally dedicated when it was first entering service with the Southern Railway. Fortunately 925 (one of only three Schools Class locos to be saved for preservation) is visiting us as part of our Rail Festival at the end of this month.
Our Publicity Officer (Ian Crowder) had the idea that something akin to the original dedication ceremonies of the early 1930's may be possible. So it turned out to be. It was a very sunny morning when everyone met at Cheltenham. Our visitors included the Headmaster of the College, a dozen or so teachers and some 80 plus pupils. After the inevitable speeches of welcome and response from the Headmaster, most of the pupils were able to Cab the loco (many thanks to the crew) and eventually we set off for a trip to Winchcombe & return.
Thanks to OTC for providing drinks and biccies for everyone and also to other volunteers for coming along to help.
Our guests had a good time and I am sure that over the years to come, we can cement our relationship with the college, and who knows, maybe some members and volunteers in the future. I understand that a write up was in the Gloucester Echo last evening along with photos. Our own Jack Boskett also took photos which will no doubt in time make there way into the Cornishman and and the heritage railway press.
A very good day for the railway and thoroughly enjoyed by all.