When Brunel descendants joined Queen Elizabeth II for Royal Train anniversary


About to board the Hitachi IET prototype set and recreate the journey made by the first Royal Train in 1842 are, left to right, Isambard Thomas, the great-great-great-grandson of Isambard Kingdom Brunel; Gillian White, the great-great-granddaughter of Sir Daniel Gooch, Tim O’Toole, First Group CEO, HM the Queen, Mark Hopwood, GWR managing director and Mark Langman, the Network Rail route managing director. Photo: GWR

In June 2017, descendants of GWR engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel and his locomotive genius Daniel Gooch joined the late Queen Elizabeth II on a special trip to mark the 175th anniversary of the first Royal Train.

The event on June 13, 2017 saw the Queen and the late Duke of Edinburgh travel in new Hitachi-built Intercity Express Train No. 800003, which she named Queen Elizabeth II at Paddington station.

The couple were joined on board by Isambard Thomas and Gillian White, the direct descendants of Brunel and Gooch respectively.

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On June 13, 1842, Queen Victoria made the journey from Slough to Paddington and became the first British monarch to travel by train. That day, Daniel Gooch drove the locomotive, broad gauge Fire Fly class Phlegethon, assisted by Brunel.

The train in 1842 took 25 minutes for the 18-mile journey. Never having travelled faster than a horse could gallop, the 43mph average speed of the train would have been exhilarating for Queen Victoria – possibly too much so, because the GWR subsequently fitted a signal to the roof of the royal saloon so the Queen’s entourage could instruct the train’s driver to slow down.

The Queen named the IET set Queen Elizabeth II at Paddington. GWR

In a diary entry on the day of her trip, Victoria wrote: “It took us exactly 30 minutes going to Paddington, and the motion was very slight, and much easier than the carriage, also no dust or great heat – in fact, it was delightful and so quick.”

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