Puppets travel on train from St Albans station ahead of Alban pilgrimage
PUBLISHED: 12:39 20 June 2019 | UPDATED: 12:39 20 June 2019
Giant carnival puppets representing St Alban and St Amphibalus travelled by train from St Albans to London as part of a new 'green pilgrimage'.
The puppets - which belong to St Albans Cathedral - boarded a train at St Albans City station on Wednesday, June 19, and alighted at City Thameslink, where they made their way on foot to St Paul's Cathedral.
They were accompanied by St Albans pilgrims, who will walk with the puppets from St Paul's to St Albans Cathedral in a 35-mile green pilgrimage, which aims to be as environmentally sustainable as possible.
Govia Thameslink Railway's (GTR) local development manager Patrick Ladbury said: "It was a pleasure to help St Alban, Amphibalus and the St Albans pilgrims get down to London for this well-attended launch event.
"The journey went smoothly thanks to the professionalism of Thameslink staff, who were also very interested to learn about the story behind these giant puppets."
St Albans was the first city in England to join the global interfaith Green Pilgrimage Network, which was launched in 2011 in Assisi, Italy.
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The pilgrimage itself has been divided into five parts, with pilgrims travelling from St Paul's Cathedral to Hampstead Heath station, then to Woodside Park tube station, then to Elstree station and on to Shenley Tea Rooms, before heading to St Albans Cathedral.
Heather Smith, St Albans Cathedral administrator and chapter clerk, said: "Thanks so much to GTR for helping us on our journey.
"The rail staff have been brilliant and the train ran on time. It's been an exciting adventure."
The journey required detailed planning from rail staff given the scale of the puppets.
Bishop Stephen Venner, who is retired and lives in St Albans, said: "The train journey was brilliant. The Thameslink managers were so helpful and interested to know more about what we were doing. There are some lovely people around."
The pilgrimage forms part of St Albans Cathedral's project to tell people about Alban, Britain's first saint, and to raise the profile of the city's history. The project has been partially funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.
St Albans Cathedral's new welcome centre also opens to the public this weekend.