The Great Western Railway, and the communities around it, have been shaped by many inspirational individuals. Our new fleet of Intercity Express Trains celebrate these people and their legacies by bearing their names.
Each train will have its own identity, with their name accompanied by an individual coin specifically designed to reflect the person themselves. This is inspired by GWR’s heritage where the flagship locomotive King George V bore a set of commemorative coins.
The trains that we have already named are featured below, including biographical information on each person as well as pictures and videos from the ceremonies.
800004 was officially unveiled on 30 June 2016, with the names of Isambard Kingdom Brunel and Sir Daniel Gooch adorning the driving ends.
The occasion marked 175 years since the first train ran from Bristol to London.
Pictured: 800004 crosses Maidenhead Bridge on 30 June 2016
Isambard Kingdom Brunel
This revolutionary engineer designed and built the Great Western Railway – from bridges and viaducts, and the two-mile long Box Tunnel, to the famous Paddington, and Bristol Temple Meads stations.
His bridge designs – Maidenhead Railway Bridge, Clifton Suspension Bridge (Bristol), and Royal Albert Bridge (near Plymouth), are key engineering monuments that celebrate the South West.
Around the world, Isambard Kingdom Brunel is known as one of the greatest engineers ever. And, as founder of the GWR, he truly deserves his place on our first named Intercity Express Train.
Sir Daniel Gooch
The first Superintendent of Locomotive Engines from 1837 to 1864 - and Chairman of the Great Western Railway from 1865 to 1889.
Having worked at Robert Stephenson and Company, Gooch persuaded Brunel to buy two locomotives from them - North Star and Morning Star – that became the basis of the GWR Star Class.
In 1840, the GWR Firefly Class followed. And in 1846, he designed the first complete locomotive built at Swindon - the GWR Iron Duke Class, able to reach 70 miles an hour.
In our new Intercity Express Trains, the revolution he started continues to inspire today.
800009 pays tribute to Welsh sport, having been named after Sir Gareth Edwards, and John Charles, on 7 March 2018 - when London celebrated Wales Week.
GWR is the proud custodian of the railway that links Cardiff with London, and it was across this.
Pictured: Sir Gareth Edwards signs 800009 at Cardiff Central
Edwards, revered by many as the greatest rugby player of all time, signed the train at the Welsh capital’s station before travelling to London alongside John Charles’ widow, Glenda.
At Paddington, Juventus football club welcomed the train with kits from Charles playing days on show.
Sir Gareth Edwards
Edwards won his first cap for Wales in 1967 - at the age of 19. The following year, he became the youngest player to captain the side.
He was ever-present in a Welsh team, that dominated the Five Nations Championship - winning the title seven times, including three grand slams.
He appeared 10 times for the British and Irish Lions – playing in the 1971 team, that were the only side to win a series in New Zealand, and in the 1974 team that went unbeaten in South Africa.
He was knighted in The Queen's Birthday Honours 2015 for services to sport, and for charitable services.
Rated by many as the greatest British all-round footballer, Charles played at Leeds United for eight years. Scoring a total 150 league goals, he set a season record in 1956-57 – and remains their second highest all-time goal scorer.
In 1957 he joined Juventus, scoring 108 goals in 155 matches, winning the scudetto three times, and the Italian Cup twice. He also came third in the Ballon d'Or (world player award) in 1959. Nicknamed ‘Il Gigante Buono’ (The Gentle Giant), he was never cautioned or sent off.
In 1997, Charles was voted by Juventus fans as the club’s best-ever foreign player.
He played 38 times for Wales, scored 15 times, and helped them reach the quarter finals of the 1958 World Cup – the only time the country qualified.
Pictured from left to right: Glenda Charles, Paolo Garimberti (President of Juventus Museum) and David Griffiths (President of Football Association of Wales)
On 10 January 2018, 60 years of Paddington Bear were celebrated as Michael’s daughter, Karen Jankel, unveiled the names.
Pictured: Karen Jankel, Michael Bond’s daughter, alongside 800010
The doors were decorated with pictures of Paddington Bear from the original Peggy Fortum illustrations, and images from Paddington 2 the movie.
Thomas Michael Bond grew up in Reading, where he developed a love for the old Great Western Railway locomotives that passed through the town. While working for the BBC, he published his first book, ‘A Bear Called Paddington’, in 1958.
The world-renowned character was based on a lone teddy bear on a shelf, in a shop near London Paddington Station on Christmas Eve 1956. Since then, more than 35 million Paddington books have been sold worldwide.
Paddington Bear, from ‘deepest, darkest Peru’, was sent to the United Kingdom by his Aunt Lucy. In the first book, the Brown family find him alone at Paddington Station, sitting on his suitcase, with a note that reads ‘Please look after this bear. Thank you.
Taking him back to their home at 32 Windsor Gardens, near Notting Hill, they name him Paddington.
Even though he’s polite and kind-hearted, Paddington’s adventures always end up getting him into trouble!
On the 22 June 2018, GWR celebrated 100 years of the RAF and marked 75 years since the historic Dambusters raid in WW2 by naming 800019 after pilots George ‘Johnny’ Johnson and Joy Lofthouse.
Johnny unveiled the names on the train at a ceremony held on Platform 3 at Bristol Temple Meads station.
George ‘Johnny’ Johnson
George ‘Johnny’ Johnson is the last surviving British member of the Dambusters raid. He was just 22 when he participated in the famous offensive that saw 19 Lancaster bombers drop specially-designed bouncing bombs on dams in the Ruhr Valley in Germany.
Johnson, who now lives in Bristol, served as a bomb aimer whose duty was to release the four-tonne explosives, which he said looked like ‘glorified dustbins’.
After the war, Johnson became a teacher and taught people with learning difficulties. He has helped raise money for charity and was presented with an MBE for services to World War Two in 2017.
Born in Cirencester, Gloucestershire, Joy Lofthouse was a 20-year-old bank cashier when she replied to an advertisement to join the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA). She became one of 164 female pilots who, during the second world war, transported military planes around the country.
Throughout her time with the ATA, Lofthouse flew 18 types of aircraft, including 400mph-fighters, all of which she navigated using maps and landmarks she could see from the cockpit.
In 2008, Lofthouse received a commemorative badge for her work with the ATA, issued by the government. She was also a patron of the charity Fly2Help, which encourages flying among young people.
Unveiled at Bristol Temple Meads on Wednesday 18 April, Bob Woodward – along with family, and Elizabeth’s former colleagues from Bristol City Archives were present as 800020 was named before their eyes.
Rightly featured in our 100 Great Westerners, these two Bristol heroes – Bob celebrated for his amazing charity work and Elizabeth remembered as a formidable public servant for the region, are now icons in our Intercity Express Train fleet.
Bob Woodward OBE
In 1974 Bob Woodward was a successful property developer when his eight-year-old son Robert was diagnosed with cancer.
Seeing what few resources were in place for children and their parents at the time, Woodward created a setting where families could be together while their child was treated.
Woodward went on to found charity CLIC (Cancer and Leukaemia in Childhood) in 1976, which later merged with Sargent Cancer Care for Children to form CLIC Sargent.
Woodward was also chief executive to The Starfish Trust, for which he still fundraises despite retiring in 2013.
In 2011, he was given a Lifetime Achievement award for his charitable work at the Pride of Britain Awards and received an OBE in 2014.
Elizabeth Ralph (1911 - 2000) became archives clerk to Bristol City Council in 1937, rising to city archivist two years later. She remained in this post for more than three decades and was praised for her organisation and securing significant collections relating to the city’s history.
Ralph helped protect the archives during the Bristol Blitz of the Second World War.
Her public offices included first female chairman of the Council of the Society of Archivists and general secretary of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society, a post she held for 38 years before becoming president.
She also wrote several works on the archives and history of the city.
To mark International Women’s Day in 2017, the Bristol Post named Ralph among the city’s top 100 women.
Bristol International Fiesta Founder Don Cameron MBE joined us on Platform 13 at Bristol Temple Meads to celebrate 40 years of the world-renowned festival – he even brought a balloon basket along with him.
Glasgow-born balloonist Don Cameron moved to Bristol in the 1960s. He helped design Britain’s first modern hot-air balloon, Bristol Belle, which took its premier flight in 1967.
After leaving his job as an aeronautical engineer, Cameron made a career of building and designing hot-air balloons, forming Cameron Balloons of Bristol in 1971 – now the world’s largest hot-air balloon manufacturer, producing up to 200 a year.
In 1979, Cameron launched Bristol International Balloon Fiesta, which is the biggest of its kind in Europe.
Among his many achievements, Cameron was the first to cross the Alps and the Sahara by hot-air balloon and crossed the Atlantic in 1992.
With over 40 members of the Astor family present, Intercity Express Train number 802101 was named by Nancy’s granddaughter the Honourable Emily Astor on 28 November 2019.
Nancy Astor was the first woman to take her seat in the House of Commons after winning the Plymouth Sutton by-election, a seat previously held by her husband Waldorf.
In fact, Nancy was an American citizen, having come to England when she was 26 and marrying Waldorf Astor shortly afterwards.
Nancy faced massive prejudice entering the totally male dominated House of Commons chamber with 700+ MPs determined to freeze her out, including those in her own party. She famously clashed with Winston Churchill on many an occasion.
Pictured: Dr Jacqui Turner (Leading Astor Historian – Reading University), Ruth Busby (Human Resources Director – Great Western Railway), the Honourable Emily Astor (granddaughter of Nancy Astor), Dr Helen Pankhurst (great-granddaughter of Emmeline Pankhurst)
But she was not without controversy and with views, which are unacceptable today, but were very much commonplace in that interwar period. Her views were often exaggerated, embellished, and sometimes twisted by a hostile Parliament and press which could not accept a female presence in this kingdom of masculinity.
Without doubt Nancy did so much to further the cause woman in politics, but also the cause of those from all classes and statue, fighting against prejudice in a male dominated environment.
The Campaign Against Anti-Semitism takes a nuanced approach – celebrating Lady Astor as a “trailblazer for women in politics” but stressing her views towards Jewish communities needed to be remembered, saying: “Hopefully that will serve as a lesson that in our time we must not sacrifice our solidarity with a minority community for other priorities, however worthwhile.”