If you have purchased a train ticket from Slough to Paddington for 13 June, there is an additional reason why you don’t want to miss your trip; because the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh will board the Great Western Railway train to mark the anniversary of a similar trip that Queen Victoria and Prince Albert embarked on 175 years ago.
What makes the trip more special is that descendants of the Isambard Kingdom Brunel- the great engineer who drove the royal train in 1842- will join the trip on Tuesday. Mark Hopwood, managing director of Great Western Railway, said, “This occasion marks a very special moment in the history of the Great Western Railway.’’
It was also the day Queen Elizabeth’s great-great-grandmother became the first British monarch to use the new method of transport. The 18-mile journey that would take almost three hours before was completed within 25 minutes, much to her husband’s bemusement as he thought the train travelled at an extreme speed (43 mph).
Rejoicing the unique experience, a 23-year-old Victoria wrote upon her return to Buckingham Palace, ‘’We arrived here yesterday morning, having come by railroad, from Windsor, in half an hour, free from dust and crowd and heat, and I am quite charmed with it.’’
The historic trip was described in the newspapers in some detail.
“Precisely at twenty-five minutes past twelve o’clock the royal special train entered the Paddington terminus, having performed the distance in twenty-five minutes, and on Her Majesty’s alighting she was received with the most deafening demonstrations of loyalty and affection we have ever experienced.”
It was the first of many subsequent rail journeys that the Queen would later take, although Victoria required that trains would not travel exceed 40 mph during the day and 30 mph at night. To reassure the Queen, Great Western Railway installed a signal to the roof of the royal saloon to enable her entourage to instruct the driver to slow down. It is unlikely that the Queen will need any of these special requirements when she gets on the train on Tuesday.