1832 or earlier
Minister for Magic (formerly)
Minister Ottaline Gambol was a British Minister for Magic who was in office in the early 19th century. Fascinated with Muggle technology, she "daring[ly] and controversial[ly]" proposed the train as a solution to the age-old dilemma of how to transport hundreds of students to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry without attracting non-magic attention, leading to the creation of the Hogwarts Express.
As Minister for Magic
Ms. Gambol rose to the office of Minister for Magic in the early 19th century and proved to be effective in the solution of the problem of how to transport hundreds of students to and from Hogwarts Castle without attracting the Muggles' attention.
Portkeys had been arranged at collecting points all over Britain ever since the imposition of the International Statute of Secrecy in 1692. However, Portkeys proved not to be the ideal solution to the problem of school transportation (up to a third of students would fail to arrive every year, and many students were prone to Portkey-sickness). A return to the unregulated travel of the past was impossible, and other magical routes into the school (like the usage of Floo Powder) were strongly resisted by successive Headmasters, who were concerned the security of the Castle would be breached.
Sometime between 1819 and 1849 Minister Ottaline Gambol made a daring and controversial suggestion to solve the problem: intrigued by the Muggle technology, the Minister saw the potential of using a train as a secure and comfortable alternative to Portkeys. Thus the Hogwarts Express came to be. Where the locomotive was actually obtained from remains unknown, but there are classified files at the Ministry of Magic pertaining to a large-scale operation involving one hundred and sixty-seven Memory Charms, as well as the biggest Concealment Charm ever performed in Britain. The morning after this operation, the residents of Hogsmeade awoke to find a railway station that had not been there previously, and Muggle railway employees in Crewe had the feeling they had misplaced something, which stayed with them for the rest of the year.
Behind the Scenes
Ottaline Gambol may have been related to the founder of Gambol and Japes'.
- Pottermore (Mentioned only)
Notes and references