A VIRGIN Trains locomotive has been named the Lord Mayor of Newcastle to celebrate the 800th anniversary of the city’s Mayoralty and Freemen.

A ceremony was held today (Tues, Dec 6) 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 ceremony, which was held at Newcastle Central Station, 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.

It is a key part of Newcastle City Council’s commemoration of 800 years of Newcastle’s Mayoralty. The city has had its royal charter renewed by successive sovereigns and is one of only a few cities in Europe to have had the same office handed down to known recipients over so many years in an unbroken sequence.

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.

“People who live and travel along the whole of the East Coast Mainline will see what a truly special year this is for Newcastle. Now it will be remembered for years to come.”

Jonathan Edwards said: “As an Honorary Freeman it’s great to have helped name a train after the Mayoralty, and it’s also good that Virgin Trains has changed its brand from red and white to black and white on this loco to reflect the colours of Newcastle United Football Club.”