Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

What were you awed by at first sighting in the UK?


What were you awed by at first sighting in the UK?

Old Aug 24th, 2009, 08:47 AM
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 22,920
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
My first trip was in 1980 and I was surprised at how small the cars were. At that time we were still driving cars the size of small boats in the US.

When I returned years later the cars didn't seem to small anymore, as the US had downsized a bit.

Seeing the Parliament Building for the first time was also a big WOW.
P_M is offline  
Old Aug 24th, 2009, 09:01 AM
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 53,589
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
every day I travelled to work on southern trains and crossed the Thames on the way into Victoria.

in 15 years, I never tired of that. Rain or shine, winter or summer.

when I go back now, it does nothing at all for me.

Never go back.
annhig is offline  
Old Aug 24th, 2009, 09:05 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 7,525
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
My very first trip out of NA was a trip that started in London. So just being there gave me the tingles. I suppose the first thing I saw that said England was the red double-decker buses..and everything after that gave me the "wow I'm here" happy vibes.
Michel_Paris is offline  
Old Aug 24th, 2009, 09:21 AM
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 35,999
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
From the plane, Buckingham Palace, and on the ground Big Ben. I had to pinch myself. I didn't get to Europe until I was 53, often thought I'd NEVER get there, and to be in London and so see with my own eyes, buildings and sites I had only seen on travel shows...it was almost overwhelming.
crefloors is offline  
Old Aug 24th, 2009, 09:26 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5,579
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Reading these posts made me think of other "awes". My first trip was in 1948 - thirteen hours from Boston to London on a Pan American Lockheed Constellation with stops at Gander and Shannon.

The UK was just beginning the recovery from the war and the area around St. Paul's was a wasteland. Yet St. Paul's itself was untouched.

We also took a train on an elevated railway thru Liverpool. Almost complete destruction of the harbor's warehouses.
jsmith is offline  
Old Aug 24th, 2009, 10:00 AM
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 17,249
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
"an elevated railway thru Liverpool"

One of the first sights that awed me. The Overhead Railway - allegedly known as the Dockers' Umbrella, though no docker I knew ever called it that - was as awe-inspiring to a 3 year old as I imagine local children found the overhead bits of the New York Subway or Chicago's El (which, built at the same time as the Overhead, was of course electrified years later than the Overhead. In the 1890s, if you wanted go-ahead thinking, Liverpool was the place to find it)

Unsurprisingly, more destruction of Liverpool's built heritage took place under post-war "redevelopment" than the RAF ever let Hitler get away with. While the El and the elevated bits of the Subway are still things Chicagoans and New Yorkers treat with affection, the Overhead was demolished - to no-one's obvious benefit - in 1957.

Precisely coinciding with the 750th anniversary of the city's formal foundation. Remember that next time you think we look after our history better than you.
flanneruk is offline  
Old Aug 24th, 2009, 11:40 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5,579
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
flanner, thank you for the info. It wasn't the overhead that awed me but the destruction. Am I correct that the Royal Liver Building came thru the war pretty much intact?
jsmith is offline  
Old Aug 24th, 2009, 10:58 PM
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 17,249
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
"Am I correct that the Royal Liver Building came thru the war pretty much intact?"

I realised you were more struck by the destruction than an elevated railway: I was just commenting on the coincidence that, at practically the same time, the railway itself was almost the first sight in Britain that ever awed me (the devastation was,as far as I was concerned, just the way the world was. Didn't ALL cities have lots of bomb sites? I'm still puzzled to find cities that don't seem to have had any).

You've hit an odd point about the Blitz damage. By 1948, the port was more or less back to normal work, handling almost as much non-military cargo as before the war, and creating lots of jobs in the process (which is why Mr F Senior could afford to marry Mrs F Senior). My memory (a couple of years later) was of widespread devastation still on the landside of the railway (which ran for 13 miles about 20 yards outside the docks), but virtually untouched docks on the other side. A HUGE number of Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian dock and associated commercial buildings along the Dock Road survived practically unscathed - and many are still there.

A few 20th century warehouses containing flammable merchandise were destroyed. The apparently stunning early 19th century Customs House, half a mile upstream of the Liver Building, was destroyed, along with the (mainly adminstrative) facilities around it, and this particular loss affected people's memories of the Blitz a lot: the Customs House was on the site of the "pool" that Liverpool got its name from, and was the only bit of the dock system you'd call a harbour.

The likelihood is that you remember either the devastation around the Customs House area (which only really got fully back into useful commerce last year, and around 1950 was a sight people were still pointing out) or the non-dock devastation: the docks themselves probably in 1948 looked bashed about a bit, but their ruins would have probably been pretty unspectacular. By the time (about 1951) I first saw the view from the train, the rubble was all inland and the docks looked almost unscathed.

I elaborate on all this because the local consensus by 1950-odd was that Hitler had never really been interested in knocking our ports out. Almost all the damage he'd done was to shops, houses and the civilian population: even the spectacular Customs House bombing was of an administrative area that actually handled next to no real imports or exports. He was more interested in frightening us, went the conventional wisdom. "That's why the docks are working flat out but we're surrounded by bomb sites where houses and shops used to be" I was told as a child.

As so often, attributing to malevolence something more easily explained by incompetence. It was a lot tougher to make a bomb fall on a dock - never more than a few hundred yards wide - than on the mile-wide river on one side or the miles of housing on the other.
flanneruk is offline  
Old Aug 25th, 2009, 01:00 AM
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 1,089
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
The countryside nowhere in particular, on a sunny day in late May/early June
khunwilko is offline  
Old Aug 25th, 2009, 03:35 AM
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 6,629
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Not from my first trip at 20, but I do remember with feeling seeing my 75+ year-old father's delight in the paintings in the National Gallery and with the London Transport Museum where he read every placard and climbed all over every tram, bus, etc.

Flanner, re your post, I just saw an interesting show last night about Bath and both the triumphs and errors of re-building after WWII. Had no idea it had been so extensively damaged.
Cathinjoetown is offline  
Related Topics
Original Poster
Last Post
Jul 26th, 2010 09:05 AM
May 20th, 2009 05:19 AM
Sep 5th, 2008 06:05 PM
May 7th, 2008 04:14 AM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell My Personal Information