Her Majesty The Queen has marked the 175th anniversary of the first rail journey made by a monarch, recreating the original journey made by Queen Victoria, before naming a new Intercity Express Train ‘Queen Elizabeth II’ at Paddington station today.
On 13 June 1842, Queen Victoria made the journey from Slough to Paddington and became the first British monarch to travel by train. The train that day was driven by Daniel Gooch and assisted by Isambard Kingdom Brunel.
To mark this unique occasion GWR recreated the journey between the two stations using its new Hitachi-built Intercity Express Train (IET), in the presence of HM The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh. The Royal party were joined on the train by Isambard Thomas and Gillian White, the direct descendants of Isambard Kingdom Brunel and Sir Daniel Gooch.
Following the naming ceremony, Tim O’Toole, chief executive of GWR’s owner’s FirstGroup presented The Queen with a pair of specially designed coins which will become a feature of GWR’s new Intercity Express trains.
Great Western Railway’s Intercity Express Train marks the start of the biggest fleet upgrade in a generation on GWR’s network and is the first major intercity fleet to be introduced on the UK rail network for some 20 years. It is due to enter passenger service first on the Great Western Railway in the autumn this year, and will enable longer trains with more seats; faster and more frequent journeys.
The trains are being built by the 900-strong workforce at Hitachi’s North East factory in Newton Aycliffe, as part of the government’s £5.7 billion Intercity Express Programme.
Her Majesty was greeted at Slough Station by school children from four local schools who had produced their own drawings to mark the occasion. There were more than 100 children, aged between five and 11, from Slough’s St Mary’s Primary. IRQA Slough Islamic School, James Elliman Academy, and Marish Primary School.
Mark Hopwood, managing director of Great Western Railway said: ‘We are delighted that The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh were able to join us to mark this historic anniversary. We at GWR are extremely proud of our heritage and this occasion marks a very special moment in the history of the Great Western Railway.’
Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling said: ‘This is a truly inspirational event and a fitting tribute to the proud heritage of Brunel’s railway. This route remains one of the foundations of our rail network and as a nation we should be proud of our railways, which continue to be the bedrock of our public transport system.’
Mark Langman, managing director of Network Rail, Western Route said: ‘It is an honour to have welcomed The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh to Paddington station 175 years after the first royal arrival into the iconic London station by train.
‘Today marked the culmination of years of hard work by Network Rail teams and our colleagues at GWR. It demonstrates the closer working between the rail industry partners to deliver a better railway for passengers – continuing the proud story and tradition of the Great Western Railway.’
Karen Boswell OBE, managing director of Hitachi Rail Europe, said: ‘We trust that Her Majesty enjoys the space, comfort and smooth ride on our new Intercity train. From the autumn, passengers will begin to feel the benefits of this new British-built fleet as they travel around the Great Western route.’
Features of the commemorative coin
Each Intercity Express Train set will feature two dedications – one for each leading power car. Each dedication will be accompanied by a commemorative coin on the leading car of each train. The coin’s front face is specifically designed to reflect the name it represents, while the reverse will carry a standard Great Western Railway Design.
The inspiration behind the coins comes from Great Western Railway’s flagship locomotive, King George V which still proudly carries two gold coins presented by the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company at its 1927 centenary celebrations.
The coins presented to Her Majesty The Queen for 800 803 Queen Elizabeth II/Queen Victoria have been designed by celebrated railway designer Paul Gentleman, known for special train livery designs that have appeared across the UK, including For the Fallen (91 111, East Coast, 2014), Skyfall, (91 007, East Coast 2013), 90 Glorious Years (43 027 Great Western Railway, 2015).
The key design features of the coin include:
The front face of each coin is unique, and designed specifically to reflect the nature of the name appearing on the train. In the case of 800 003, special permission had to be granted by Buckingham Palace and the Cabinet Office to feature the Queen’s name.
The designs on each side of the coins are encircled by a series of 93 dots – known as beading in the coin world – with each bead – or dot – represents an individual train in Great Western Railway’s new Intercity Express Train fleet. The beads are shaped to mimic the iconic face-on contours of an IET, and come together to form a stylised railway track around the edge of the coin.
One bead on every coin is raised, corresponding with the unit number of the train it commemorates. The coin marking the naming of Queen Elizabeth II has a raised third bead, corresponding to Intercity Express Train number 800 003 on which it features.
The Royal Standard
The official flag of the Royal Family, the Royal Standard is used to indicate the presence of The Queen and represents both Queen Elizabeth II and Queen Victoria featured on. It was first used in its present recognisable form in 1837 – just, five years before Queen Victoria made the first Royal journey by train in 1842.
Train name and fleet number
Every train in the UK has its own unique fleet or unit number – effectively a number plate for trains, which generally stays with them for life. The train number – in the case of this train 800 003 – appears in the bottom right quadrant of the coin, and is mirrored on the left by the respective leading car name.
The GWR Stripe motif
The contemporary stripe motif appears in different forms on both sides of the emultaes adorns each of the train company’s newly liveried carriages, and brings the design of the train and coin together.
The Great Western Railway coat-of-arms
Originally designed to symbolise the Great Western Railway’s goal of linking Bristol and London by rail, the coat-of-arms incorporates the shields, crests and mottoes of both cities. It has since come to represent the whole of GWR’s network, stretching from London to Swansea and Paddington to Penzance.