A ceremony was held at Newcastle Central Station to commemorate the anniversary of King John granting a charter, in 1216, to Newcastle’s burgesses – known today as the Freemen – which empowered them to elect a Mayor of Newcastle.
The current Lord Mayor of Newcastle, Councillor Hazel Stephenson, said: “The Mayoralty is one of the longest surviving civic institutions in the city. It’s a great honour to have a train named after it.
The locomotive, which is numbered 91130 and will promote Newcastle across Virgin’s east coast route, features the name, a commemorative plaque and famous city landmarks, including the Tyne Bridge, Castle Keep, St James’ Park football ground and the Civic Centre, where the council is based.
Rev Stephen Lindridge, Chair of the Newcastle Methodist District, was invited by the Mayor to bless the train. He told Premier: “The Lord Mayor Hazel, who is actually a Methodist member along at Denton Burn, invited me to pray a simple prayer of blessing over everything that has been going on and I was happy to do that.”
He continued. “What a privilege to be at this particular point in history at this particular marker of 800 years of this kind of role.”
The ceremony was hosted by Jonathan Edwards CBE, the Olympic gold medal triple-jump winner and world record holder who is himself an Honorary Freeman of the city.
Jonathan Edwards told Premier: “I’ve been in the city 30 years come next year, I am an adopted Geordie, so to be part of this ceremony today was very special.”
Also present to pray for the train was Newcastle based railway chaplain Helen Bartlett who is well known by railway staff all across the North East.
Click below to hear Premier’s Northern Correspondent Ian Britton talking with Rev Stephen Lindridge
Click below to hear Premier’s Northern Correspondent Ian Britton talking with Jonathan Edwards.
Locomotive 91130 “Lord Mayor of Newcastle” departs Newcastle for the first time.