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The Cheltenham Society of Model Engineers (CSME) was founded in 1938.

From those humble beginnings, with much member enthusiasm, and until the mid-1950's without a permanent home, the Cheltenham Society has grown steadily over the years. Originally starting as a steam locomotive based society, it still has a primary interest in steam locomotives but this is now equalled by diesel locomotives (usually electrically powered). In addition, interests exist in steam road locomotives with also a large contingent of boating interests, both steam and electric.

In 1955 the late Sir George Dowty made the present ground on the west side of Cheltenham available to the Cheltenham Society and a permanent model railway track could be planned. In remembrance of this gesture a Society Steam Locomotive was built and named in his honour. This was a 5"G steam locomotive to the Martin Evans design 'Simplex'. In the late 1990's this locomotive was sold and replaced with a 5"G 'Sweet Pea' locomotive. This steam locomotive now carries the name 'Sir George Dowty' for the Cheltenham Society members.

In 1999 the Cheltenham Society took the opportunity to purchase the ground for the new millenium. The Cheltenham Society of Model Engineeers now holds freehold title on the Society ground for all members - present and future. The existing 700ft, multi-gauge elevated model railway track was completed in 1982 and is the third such construction since the Cheltenham Society occupied the site. The elevated railway track can accommodate locomotives of 2.5", 3.5" and 5" gauges. This allows all such gauged designs from the likes of Martin Evans and LBSC, as well as the many newer designers, to have use of a quality railway track in the beautiful county of Gloucestershire. The elevated railway track is laid for standard running in the clockwise direction with automatic track circuiting and signalling for such running.

In the mid-1990's construction was started on a 'ground level' railway track to accommodate both 5" and small sized 7.25" gauge steam or diesel locomotives. However, this construction had to take place within the existing elevated railway track and due to track radius limitations plus existing facilities/obstacles only an end-to-end construction could be considered. Nevertheless, with passing loops, sidings and headshunts much fun was enjoyed. In 2007 the ends of the ground level track were closed so that continuous running could take place. Sidings have been added to give pleasure and allow for some real 'railroading'. Enhancements have continued with the addition of a turntable and a carriage shed for storage of ground level rolling stock.

The railway has its own 'real' Signal Box, which is a Midland 'Ground Frame' Box and came from the former sidings at Tewkesbury Road, Cheltenham. Although a ground level box, it has been raised to provide useful storage space underneath. As well as a neat meeting place, the Box contains the automatic signalling equipment, which operates the 'elevated track' GWR type semaphore signals. In addition there is a handy stove for warming members during those cold Autumn/Winter meets.

The 'elevated track' railway also has an imposing GWR style Station at "Hatherley". This was completed in 1988 and officially opened during the Cheltenham Society's Golden Jubilee celebrations.

Cheltenham Society is lucky to be able to boast a fine lake which exists as a splendid facility for the boating members. It even has a working Lighthouse and water feature!

After steaming an engine, or sailing a boat, one can make use of the Cheltenham Society Canteen which is equipped for the making of tea/coffee etc and also has limited cooking facilities. In addition, the Society has Ladies' and Gents' toilets. Together the lake and grounds offer interest for all, including those with nature conservation in mind. Fish and Wildlife abound and all in protected sylvan surroundings.

With the elevated and ground level tracks plus the boating lake, model engineers from the Cheltenham and Gloucestershire area will find facilities for most of their model engineering needs here at the Cheltenham Society of Model Engineers.

 

Download a society brochure here.


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