Victoria - First Sovereign to Take the Train
After persuasion by her husband Prince Albert , Queen Victoria decided to try the new-fangled railway by making a journey from Slough railway station (then the nearest to Windsor ) to London . The Great Western Railway Company accordingly built a special coach. GWR’s chief mechanical engineer Daniel Gooch, accompanied by chief engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel , drove the Firefly engine - Phlegethon for the train-spotters out there -pulling the royal coach and six others.
The trip to Bishop’s Bridge near Paddington took just 25 minutes, starting promptly at midday, and it is said that at times Queen Victoria and her consort feared the contrivance – travelling in excess of 20mph - was about to plummet from the track. The royal carriage completed the journey to Buckingham Palace after a few formalities with the GWR directors.
In spite of their concerns both enjoyed the experience; train journeys became a part of royal life, that to Balmoral for their annual autumn and winter holiday greatly anticipated. Those fears of speed did not disappear however; Victoria ordered her trains never go faster than 40mph. And when she ate naturally the train had to stop until she had finished her meal.
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