First Capital Connect names train after the historic city of St Albans

Tue, 15 April 2014

First Capital Connect  has named a train on its Bedford to Brighton route after the historical Hertfordshire city of St Albans in recognition of its unique place in history.

 The naming followed news that the city 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 Mayor of St Albans City & District, Cllr Annie Brewster, were joined by First Capital Connect Managing Director David Statham for the ceremony at London Blackfriars station.

 Today is 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 earlier today, helpers dressed as monks handed out the buns to hungry passengers at the station. And a giant version of Alban – Britain’s first-ever saint – was there to lend a hand too.

 St Albans, which is only 20 minutes by train from St Pancras International, can claim many other ‘firsts’, as well as the Easter bun. The most significant of these is Britain’s first saint, Alban himself, who gave his life around the year 300 AD to save that of a Christian priest.

The cathedral’s development project, for which it has received HLF funding, is called, ‘Alban, Britain’s First Saint: Telling the Whole Story’ and will reveal the unique place in British history of Alban and the cathedral and include conservation work, a programme of activities and capital works to create new welcome and learning spaces in the cathedral.

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.

With seven million passengers passing through its gates a year, St Albans is First Capital Connect’s busiest station on the Thameslink route north of London.

David Statham, Managing Director of First Capital Connect, 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!”

Cllr Annie Brewster, Mayor of St Albans City & District 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 (now the cathedral) was at one time the premier abbey outside London.  As such, 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.

Nowadays, St Albans is a bustling city, particularly popular with those who work in the city of London as it is only a 20-minute train journey away, with award-winning independent shopping and restaurants, and a thriving cultural scene including a popular film festival.  Its history is central to its charm to the many who choose it as their home.

Watch the ceremony on YouTube

Notes to Editors: 

St Albans’ ‘firsts’ and ‘oldests’ :

  • St Albans is named after Alban, Britain’s first saint
  • St Albans Cathedral is the oldest place of continual Christian worship in the UK
  • St Albans has the only medieval clock tower in the country
  • St Albans has the oldest public school in Britain where Pope Adrian IV, the only Englishman to occupy the papal chair, and scientist Stephen Hawking were educated
  • St Albans' pub Ye Olde Fighting Cocks is in the Guinness Book of Records as the oldest pub in the country
  • St Albans Abbey (now cathedral) was at one time the principal abbey in England and was the location of the first meeting (in 1213) which ultimately led to the sealing of the Magna Carta in 1215

About First Capital Connect

First Capital Connect (FCC) operates trains from London to Bedford, Brighton, Wimbledon and Sutton on the Thameslink route and Peterborough, Cambridge and King’s Lynn on the Great Northern route.

Approximately 180,000 people travel with FCC every weekday – 95,000 on the Thameslink route and 85,000 on the Great Northern route. For more information contact or 07711 149 245

Further information about St Albans:

St Albans for Visitors :

The St Albans Visitor Economy Strategy :

The St Albans Green Triangle

The Green Triangle is a major cluster of world leading environmental research, engineering and green technology businesses located in and around the City of St Albans . See:

St Albans is a key centre for Professional Services Businesses.

St Albans is home to over 130 chartered accountancy and law firms.

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