May 22 1936 press photo Cheltenham Flyer GWR (UK)

$30.00 CAD

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Taped to back is typewritten paper with description of photo:

“A name board has been fixed to the front of the “Cheltenham Flyer” crack express of the Great Western Railway. The name board in cream and chocolate colour causes great interest at the giant locomotive speeds along the iron road.”
“Photo shows – The Cheltenham Flyer with her name board in cream and chocolate passing over the troughs at Goring on Thames on her way to Paddington. Fox May 22. 36.”

Back has printed ‘Copyright Fox Photos Ltd Tudor Street London’

Handwritten in blue crayon ‘France Presse’ (buyer?)

Couple corners have small crease. Top of photo has some light ‘waves’. There are a couple of small areas of discoloration, but examination seems to suggest it is part of negative (below LF wheel, tree above right front lantern)

10” x 8” 


The Cheltenham Spa Express is a British named passenger train service from Paddington station, in London, to Cheltenham Spa, in Gloucestershire, via Reading, Kemble, Stroud, Stonehouse and Gloucester. During the 1930s, when operated by the Great Western Railway, the service was more popularly known as the Cheltenham Flyer.

In 1923 the first batch of Charles Collett's GWR 4073 Class (also called Castle Class) 4-6-0 express engines entered service and this enabled a significant improvement in timings. The name "Cheltenham Spa Express" was given to the service, which reached Paddington in 75 minutes from Swindon, an average speed of 61.8 miles per hour (99.5 km/h).

Fierce rivalry between the four main railway companies during the 1920s and 1930s to run the fastest train in the country, and therefore in the world, led to further accelerations to the service. In July 1929 the scheduled journey time became 70 minutes, an average speed of 66.2 miles per hour (106.5 km/h). Two years later (1931) the train was again accelerated to an average speed of 69.2 miles per hour (111.4 km/h), and by now had acquired its popular nickname of the "Cheltenham Flyer", although this was never adopted officially.

On Monday, June 6, 1932, the train broke railway speed records with a time of 56 mins 47 seconds at an average speed of 81.6 miles per hour (131.3 km/h). Such a journey speed had never been previously recorded and this made this run the fastest railway run in the world. The train was hauled by Castle class 5006 Tregenna Castle and was crewed by Driver Harry Rudduck and Fireman Thorp of Old Oak Common shed.

In September 1932 the time from Swindon to London was further reduced to 65 minutes, giving an extraordinary average speed, for the time, of 71.3 miles per hour (114.7 km/h) over the whole trip of 77 1⁄4 miles (124.3 km). This was the first occasion in the history of railways that any train had been scheduled at over 70 miles per hour (110 km/h).