Harvard House Special 1909
A fine Elizabethen House in High Street, Stratford upon Avon was once owned by the family of John Harvard 1607 – 1638. He was the benefactor whose bequest established Harvard University in the USA. In the early part of the twentieth century the novelist Marie Corelli who had settled in Stratford led a campaign to acquire the property as a fitting memorial to John Harvard. It was purchased on behalf of Harvard University through the generosity of a Chicago millionaire Edward Morris in 1909. A special train was arranged by the Great Central Railway to convey the American Ambassador, Whitelaw Reid and other notable dignitaries from London to Stratford to officially open Harvard House in its new role. The recently formed SMJR was involved as the train was routed via its line from Woodford to Stratford with a SMJ locomotive being used for that part of the journey. A number of special trains took the same route in the few years up to WW1 and were always known as “Harvard Specials” by railway staff. Sometimes the GCR locomotive would work right through to Stratford. This was almost certainly due to the unreliability of the SMJ loco fleet in being able to handle such heavy trains.
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