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Last Updated: Saturday, 17 September 2005, 10:20 GMT 11:20 UK
Church blessing for rail landmark
The Duke of Gloucester locomotive - pic by Barry Bleasdale
The engine will be blessed by Canon Glyn Webster
A steam engine is to be blessed with holy water to mark the 175th anniversary of commercial rail travel.

The Duke of Gloucester locomotive will be blessed by Canon Glyn Webster, Chancellor of York Minster, after it pulls into York station on Saturday.

The ceremony will mark the 175th anniversary of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, which launched George Stephenson's Rocket locomotive.

It was opened in September 1830 by the Prime Minister, the Duke of Wellington.

Bucket blessing

Canon Webster says he will perform the symbolic rite to bestow the Church of England's thanks for steam engines and the benefits they brought to the world.

It is thought to be the first time a steam locomotive has been blessed by the C of E.

Canon Webster said: "This is the first time I've been asked to bless a train and I am very happy to do so. All are welcome in the Church of England.

"I shall bring a bucket of holy water and won't be doing things by halves.

"When I was a curate in a sleepy parish, where the vicar had to make everything happen, if I was fed up and disillusioned I'd go out and watch the Mallard steaming by on excursions to Scarborough, and say thanks to God that there was one thing that moved in my parish without me having to push it."

The Duke of Gloucester, built in Crewe in 1954, will travel from Liverpool to Manchester and on to York, where it is scheduled to arrive at 1216 BST.

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