Alan Shearer unveils the Blaydon Races

A world-famous North-East anthem - the iconic Blaydon Races - took to the tracks on Wednesday as a train was named in honour of the song's 150th anniversary.

The East Coast electric locomotive, number 91115, was named 'Blaydon Races' in a special ceremony at Newcastle station.

Former Newcastle United and England striker Alan Shearer joined 'Queen of the Blaydon Races' Sheila Shorrick-Dodds and East Coast's Managing Director Karen Boswell at the naming ceremony.

The song 'Blaydon Races' recalls a famous horse race held from 1861 in Blaydon, near Gateshead. The song focuses on the journey from Newcastle to the race, as well as on events during the race itself.

Wednesday's train naming is one of the highlights of a series of events leading up to the 150th anniversary of the song on Saturday 9 June.

Alan Shearer commented: "Blaydon Races is a much-loved North-East anthem, best-known through its associations with Newcastle United football club, whose fans have made it their own.

"From my own playing days I know how inspiring the sound of over 50,000 Geordie voices singing Blaydon Races is. It's the ultimate signature tune of the Tyne, and now its name will be seen throughout the East Coast Main Line."

East Coast Managing Director Karen Boswell said: "We are delighted to name an East Coast train in honour of the 150th anniversary of such an iconic anthem, which for thousands of North East people is the song of their home.

"Our train will take the name of Blaydon Races along almost 400 miles of railway between London, Newcastle and Edinburgh. The name will be a proud reminder of the great tradition immortalised in song for years to come."

The train was sent on its way in musical style by Tyneside band The Longsands, whose own version of Blaydon Races has been recorded to raise money for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.