Virgin Trains Ticketing rewards descendants of British pioneer with free train travel

An image of a train station
by Limara Salt
22 February 2024

To celebrate the anniversary of the world’s first ever railway journey, Virgin Trains Ticketing is rewarding relatives of a British rail pioneer with three months of free train travel across Great Britain.   

On the 21 February 1804, the world’s first ever railway journey took place in South Wales thanks to railway pioneer Richard Trevithick. 220 years on, Virgin Trains Ticketing is celebrating this momentous milestone by searching for the descendants of Trevithick to give him the recognition he deserves.   

If your surname is Trevithick, all you have to do is email with a photo of your ID by Wednesday 6 March 2024.* 

Trevithick's impact on Britain's industrial revolution has often been overlooked. In fact, just one in five (22%) recognised Richard Trevithick’s name and only 14% knew he constructed the world’s first steam railway train. These findings come as a study of 2,000 UK adults** reveals almost half (44%) claim they have a lack of knowledge when it comes to the history of Britain’s train and railways.  

Anyone with the surname Trevithick could unknowingly be a descendent of the iconic rail pioneer – and could now be rewarded with free train travel across the country to celebrate all he’s done for the railway industry. 

Mark Plowright, Director at Virgin Trains Ticketing: “Richard Trevithick’s influence and impact on British rail history should not go unnoticed. He was a true trailblazer who laid the foundations for others to go on and help build upon his successes.   

“We want to make sure his good work doesn’t go unnoticed – and that’s why we’re offering free train travel to his lucky namesakes.”  

There are certain pioneers that have remained well-known however, with the most recognisable being Isambard Kingdom Brunel (58%) who famously designed Paddington Station and George Stephenson (57%) who built the first train to carry passengers on a public rail line.   

Upon learning about Richard Trevithick’s work, three quarters (74%) believe he is overlooked in Britain’s history of rail travel. A further 79% believe more should be done to raise awareness and celebrate British pioneers, and equally think schools should teach about the role engineers played in developing rail travel (79%).  

Two centuries since the world’s first steam locomotive, rail travel has come a long way. 57% now purchase their train tickets digitally, whether that’s online or through a ticketing app like Virgin Trains Ticketing. Customers can save money on their future train travel with the Virgin Points earned on any train ticket booked through the app. As well as a chance to earn points, customers can save even more money with split tickets and zero booking fees, resulting in Virgin Trains Ticketing has saving travellers more than £400,000 to date.   

Helping source key historical facts about Richard Trevithick, a spokesperson at Ancestry said: “The research shows there’s limited knowledge around Richard Trevithick, and after more than 220 years from his great invention, we want to put the nation on the right track to learn more about British rail history. With more than 40 billion records to explore, we encourage everyone to start their Ancestry journey – it’s incredible what you could discover and where this journey could take you. You may even find an ancestor in our railway records!”  

Don’t worry if you’re not a Trevithick, as you can still earn Virgin Points to use on future train travel with Virgin Trains Ticketing. Wanna spend those Virgin Points on amazing rewards? Sign up to Virgin Red.  

*The small print

  • For a chance to win, email a picture of your passport or driving licence clearly showing your surname as Trevithick to by 11.59pm on 6 March 2024.  

  • The winners will be the first twenty-five Trevithicks to email a picture of their passport or driving licence clearly showing their surname as Trevithick to the email address above.   

  • Free train travel will take the form of 250,000 Virgin Points, which can be used towards train tickets purchased through Virgin Trains Ticketing. 

  • 250,000 Virgin Points equates to £1,250 saving with Virgin Trains Ticketing, which is the average three month spend on train travel according to Campaign for Better Transport.  

  • Please see here for full Terms and Conditions. 

**Research based on an online survey conducted by OnePoll among 2,000 respondents from the UK. The research fieldwork took place on 2nd - 4th October 2023.