Pottermore Feature of the Week: The Hogwarts Express

Last week, we announced that we were starting a new weekly series in which we will feature a different Pottermore exclusive content entry. Well, this week are continuing the series with a feature on the “Hogwarts Express” entry in chapter six.

In the entry, we learn a few interesting facts:

  • Hogwarts students of Medieval times used any method of travelling that suited them
  • Portkeys were once used as a method to travel to Hogwarts, but the method caused a lot of troubles for the Ministry and the school, so it was therefore banned
  • A theory of where the Hogwarts Express came from

From the entry:

As we know from early historical accounts, and from the evidence of early woodcuts and engravings, Hogwarts students used to arrive at school in any manner that caught their fancy. Some rode broomsticks (a difficult feat when carrying trunks and pets); others commandeered enchanted carts and, later, carriages; some attempted to Apparate (often with disastrous effects, as the castle and grounds have always been protected with Anti-Apparition Charms), others rode a variety of magical creatures.

In spite of the accidents attendant on these various modes of magical transport, not to mention the annual Muggle sightings of vast numbers of airborne wizards travelling northwards, it remained the responsibility of parents to convey their children to school, right up until the imposition of the International Statute of Secrecy in 1692. At this point, it became a matter of urgency to find some more discreet method of transporting hundreds of wizarding children from all over Britain to their secret school in the Highlands of Scotland.

Portkeys were therefore arranged at collecting points all over Britain. The logistics caused problems from the start. Up to a third of students would fail to arrive every year, having missed their time slot, or been unable to find the unobtrusive enchanted object that would transport them to their school. There was also the unfortunate fact that many children were (and are) ‘Portkey-sick’, and the hospital wing was frequently full to bursting for the first few days of every year, while susceptible students overcame their hysterics and nausea.

The entry goes on to explain how the Hogwarts Express came about; from the mind of the Minister for Magic Ottaline Gambol who “who was much intrigued by Muggle inventions and saw the potential in trains”. J.K. Rowling also wrote about the story of how the Ministry obtained the train. She writes about a major operation overtaken by the Ministry which included “one hundred and sixty-seven Memory Charms and the largest ever mass Concealment Charm performed in Britain”.

The entry overall is really fascinating! What we found really interesting is the history on the travelling methods and how they know about it “from the evidence of early woodcuts and engravings”. It is nice to finally now where and how our favorite scarlet steam engine came about.

It is another great example of how in-depth J.K. Rowling went during the writing process of Harry Potter. Share your thoughts about the entry in the comments below! Did you like learning about the history of The Hogwarts Express?

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