In pictures: Queen recreates first royal railway journey with Brunel descendant
The original journey was made by Queen Victoria at midday on June 13 1842.
The Queen has revealed her love of train travel on the day she recreated the first railway journey made by a monarch.
While Queen Victoria made the trip from Slough to London Paddington by steam 175 years ago, the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh travelled on a modern electric-diesel service which will be introduced later this year by Great Western Railway (GWR).
Renowned Victorian engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel created the GWR route the royal couple travelled along and they were joined for the journey on Tuesday by his descendant, Isambard Thomas.
Mr Thomas, 53, Brunel’s great-great-great-grandson, sat next to the Queen and said after the journey: “I was very much at ease, I didn’t feel awkward. It was fascinating how much interest she has in trains and in train journeys. I think train travel is a quicker way to get around because the roads are too congested now.
“Obviously it’s a different thing if you’re the monarch; you’re not sat in second class, queuing for the buffet.”
Victoria was also a fan of train travel after her first journey, and in a diary entry on the day of her trip wrote: “It took us exactly 30 minutes going to Paddington, & the motion was very slight, & much easier than the carriage, also no dust or great heat – in fact, it was delightful and so quick.”
Victoria had been persuaded on board by Prince Albert, a veteran of rail travel who was fascinated by the new technology.
Her journey began at midday on June 13 1842, while the Queen’s trip on the new intercity express left at almost the same time 175 years to the day – pulling away at 12.01, three minutes ahead of schedule – and took 19 minutes to reach Paddington.
Mr Thomas, a topographic designer from Greenwich, south-east London, said the Queen was knowledgeable about “the history of trains” and had “a proper knowledge of Queen Victoria’s diaries of the event 175 years ago and obviously quite interested in what Great Western Railway are doing now”.
“The Queen was also interested in the technology and the electrification and the effects of diesel,” he added. “I think it’s remarkable that she and the Duke of Edinburgh agreed to do this.”
Sitting opposite the Queen was Gillian White, 87, the great-great-granddaughter of Daniel Gooch, GWR’s superintendent locomotive engineer 175 years ago.
He would later become a Conservative politician and was made a baronet, and was the engine driver for Victoria’s historic journey when he was joined on the footplate by Brunel.
Mrs White joked about how the talk during the journey was all about trains.
She said: “We talked about trains, there was a senior manager with us who was pointing things out as we travelled.
“But I was dying to have a nice conversation because she was lovely, but we didn’t really get to talk about anything else but trains.”
She said about the Queen: “She loves trains because they are an easy way of travelling, such a lovely way of setting around.”