Great Western Railway (GWR) has named one of the first of its new Intercity Express Trains after Paddington Bear author Michael Bond. The train, 800010, was unveiled by his daughter Karen Jankel at a special event on Platform 1, London Paddington, near to where her father’s creation first arrived in London. Michael’s wife, Sue Bond, was also in attendance at the ceremony held on Wednesday 10 January, three days before what would have been Michael’s 92nd birthday.
The author, who died on 27 June last year at the age of 91, created the character Paddington based on a small bear he saw sitting all alone on a shelf in a London department store near Paddington Station on Christmas Eve 1956. The first book was released on 13 October 1958 and since then more than 35 million Paddington books have been sold around the world. The characters have also been featured on television and in two feature films, produced and distributed by STUDIOCANAL in 2014 and 2017.
Karen Jankel, Michael’s daughter said: “Even before my father found the bear that inspired him to write his first book, he had decided that Paddington would make a good name for a character. He saw it every time he arrived at Paddington Station from his home town of Reading, so it is hard to imagine anything more appropriate than naming a train after him.
“Sadly, my father is no longer with us but his family are all delighted that both he and Paddington have been honoured in this way.”
The train bears Michael Bond’s name on one end, and Paddington’s name on the other. Each name is accompanied by an illustration by Peggy Fortnum, who drew the first ever Paddington images – making the train personal to Michael as an inspiration to many, and making the train individual from the rest of the fleet.
GWR’s Intercity Express Trains entered service on 16 October 2017 and are being named after individuals and organisations that have inspired the regions that they serve – 50 of which will be taken from the 100 Great Westerners list. Michael strongly featured in GWR’s campaign and was nominated by the public.
Mark Hopwood, GWR Managing Director, said: “Naming one of our new Intercity Express Trains after Michael Bond is our way of paying tribute and saying thank you to someone that has inspired countless generations of children worldwide.
“Rightly so Michael features on our 100 Great Westerners list, having given us all such joy with such an iconic and loveable character that is popular even to this day. Paddington Station over the years has been a must-see destination to all Paddington fans, and by naming a train after him we are delighted to play our part in supporting Michael’s legacy.”
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