First Capital Connect train dedicated to city of St Albans

First published in News St Albans & Harpenden Review: Photograph of the Author by , Senior Reporter

First Capital Connect has named one of its trains 'The City of St Albans’.

On Monday train bosses named a train on its Bedford to Brighton route after the city, in recognition of its unique place in history.

The naming follows news that St Albans has been awarded two lots of Heritage Lottery Funding for a major development project at the Cathedral and a new city centre museum and art gallery - both celebrating the city’s history.

The Dean of St Albans, Very Revd Dr Jeffrey John, and the city’s Mayor Annie Brewster, were joined by FCC managing director David Statham for the ceremony at London Blackfriars station.

Mr Statham said: "The city is important not only as a place from where so many commute into London but also as a destination in its own right with a rich heritage offering a wide variety of places for visitors to see. We are delighted to be naming one of our trains in the city’s honour and hope it will encourage more people to come and visit."

The Very Revd Dr Jeffrey John, Dean of St Albans Cathedral, blessed the train and said: "Like lots of clergy I am a railway enthusiast, so I am delighted that the city of St Albans is to have a train named after it. We are extremely proud of Alban, Britain’s first saint, and of our cathedral, which is the first and oldest site of Christian worship in the country.

"It is marvellous to think this train will carry our name wherever it goes and hopefully encourage lots more people to come and visit us. God bless our train and all who travel in her."

Yesterday was the beginning of Holy Week, a significant date for St Albans, as it was a monk at the city's Abbey, now the Cathedral, who in 1381 developed the recipe for the first ever Hot Cross Bun, the Alban bun, and distributed it to the local poor on Good Friday.

At the train-naming ceremony, helpers dressed as monks handed out the buns to hungry passengers at the station.

The Cathedral’s development project, Alban, Britain’s First Saint: Telling the Whole Story’ has received HLF funding and aims to reveal the unique place in British history of Alban and the Cathedral with a programme of activities lined up.

The new museum and gallery will be housed in the city centre’s town hall, a Grade II listed Georgian building, and will showcase the city’s heritage and its art.

The Mayor of St Albans, Annie Brewster, said: "We are all very excited to have a train named in honour of our great city. We are also incredibly proud of our important historic links to London and our present day popularity. Commuters, day-trippers and visiting tourists are able to enjoy the benefits of our vibrant contemporary city whilst experiencing over two thousand years of visible heritage. I cannot wait to travel on ‘The City of St Albans’. "

St Albans’ proximity to London has played a part in its political heritage too.  The city was the first stop out of London to the north of England in Roman times and the city’s Abbey was at one time the premier abbey outside London.

The Cathedral hosted the first meeting of churchmen and barons to discuss the first draft of the Magna Carta, an event that was commemorated in August 2013 to mark the 800th anniversary of this historic meeting, when the Magna Carta travelled to St Albans to be displayed inside the Cathedral for a month.

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