Shopping: Real Estate |  Costumes  |  Guitars
This Issue Archived Articles Blog About Us Contact Us

Diary of a UK Trip, Part 2

Three weeks in the UK

By Julian Edgar

Click on pics to view larger images

In the first four days of Diary of a UK Trip, Part 1 we’d already seen two Land Speed Record cars, the inside of Concorde, got inside the biggest hovercraft ever made and seen some awesome bridges.

So let’s continue…

Day #5

We are in York tonight and tomorrow. Tomorrow, the National Railway Museum - today, the Stockton and Darlington Museum, a cold war nuclear bunker, and the Tees travelling bridge.

Click for larger image

The Tees travelling bridge, that carries a gondola-like car across the river suspended by cables from a high truss, was a wonderful sight in the early morning. It's about 100 years old. Unfortunately, being Sunday, it wasn't working but we were able to look at it quite closely. I think these people build good bridges!

Click for larger image

From there we drove to York and I visited the cold war nuclear bunker. It’s located in a residential suburb – weird. (Georgina and Alexander stayed in the car; they are feeling better but not yet fully recovered from the vomiting bug.)

Click for larger image

The bunker was designed for ROC volunteers to record and plot the location of nuclear bombs falling on the UK. The bunker was impressive, with air locks, diesel back-up power, filters for the inhaled air - and all buried beneath the earth.

Click for larger image

However, the monitoring equipment was quite primitive - even for its age. (No seismographs here!) For example, they used what was basically a pin-hole camera working on four axes to plot the azimuth and meridian altitude of the bomb location - a black spot appearing on the photo paper showing where the bomb had exploded. Pity the person who had to go onto the roof to periodically collect the photo paper...

Click for larger image

The plotting room looked very much like a WWII air raid plotting room - despite being built some 20 years after WWII finished. The person plotting information on a map was located within a ‘well’ in the room, using information from operators (positioned above) who wrote material on rotating whiteboards. 

Click for larger image

It was unlike anything I have ever seen - in physicality and philosophy. I'd love to see a US missile silo now...

Click for larger image

The museum at Darlington was just a small place, and not all that well thought-out - but it had Locomotion No 1, effectively the world's first commercial steam locomotive for passenger lines. Alexander's face was all lit up as he looked at it...he thought it was very special indeed.

Click for larger image

We were running an hour early for the museum opening time and we ended up at the Darlington railway station. We parked and went in - it's quite magnificent, with iron arches forming three halls, two of which have two tracks in each. We saw two long electric passenger trains come and go; they departed literally to the second by the digital clocks.

Click for larger image

York looks interesting - a huge and well-preserved town defensive wall, and some architecture that looks quite good. We should have some time after the rail museum to have a look around before heading off.

Day # 6

We're now at Manchester for New Year's Eve.

Today we went to the National Railway Museum in York - this took much of the day.

Click for larger image

The National Railway Museum is a brilliant with some incredibly significant artefacts. Alexander loved the Mallard steam speed record holder, and Georgina and I loved the Mallard but also the incredible 'storage' collection that you're allowed to browse through. Incidentally, I was surprised at how small the Mallard is - the smaller English loading gauge I guess.

Click for larger image

The storage collection includes crockery and other eating bits and pieces from all the major British railways (very elegant); the tasselled seats from the original Pullman cars…

Click for larger image

…and even Stephenson's original drafting desk - quite incredible.

Click for larger image

The Flying Scotsman loco is undergoing restoration in their extensively equipped workshop.

I reckon the museum needs more signs and explanations - but it was still excellent.

An early night for us, then tomorrow off to pick up my Austin 1800 sill panel I bought on eBay from Australia; then to the Cosford RAAF museum - with apparently 70 aircraft. We expect to stay tomorrow night in Coventry or nearby.

Day #7

We are now in Coventry.

We're in the hotel early (mid-afternoon) because one of the attractions we intended to visit - the RAF museum at Cosford - proved to be closed New Years Day (despite their not stating this on their website...)

Click for larger image

First thing this morning we went to Telford and picked up from a private house the Austin 1800 sill panel that I'd won on eBay, bidding from Australia. We got to the house at 9.30 am - I think the people were still recovering from the New Years Eve night before... they took a fair while to appear! The sill panel is brand new - simply unobtainable in Australia.

Click for larger image

We then drove to Coventry and walked around the city centre... I was not very impressed. The Lonely Planet guide book points out that most of the city centre was destroyed in the WWII German bombing, and that the city centre was then rebuilt with fairly pedestrian architecture. With the loss of much car manufacturing, the city has probably also declined in the last few decades. I thought the main shopping area of the CBD was like a 1970s Australian suburban shopping centre. 

In fact a lot of these medium-size British cities are, to my eyes, really nothing special in cleanliness, presentation, wealth, shopping quality, architecture... York I thought was an exception - being cleaner, more alive, and having more interesting buildings. But, dare I say it, with the exception of the oldest buildings (and the fantastic city wall), I would still put it below (say) Ballarat in Australia in impressiveness.

The little villages and small towns I think are very different - the 'high' streets are interesting and the people bustling.

Click for larger image

Back to Coventry: the preserved cathedral in the city centre, partly destroyed by German bombing, was of only mild interest to me - it's just a ruined building. There were no signs explaining the building's significance, although to be fair, the visitors' centre was closed.

The big transport museum in Coventry is open tomorrow, so we will be attending that - it looks as though it will be brilliant.

Click for larger image

With some time to spare, we went to the aviation museum at Coventry airport - a small, volunteer run place.

Click for larger image

They had a lovely Canberra bomber, and the stunningly beautiful Vulcan bomber - the latter we were able to get up into the cockpit. It's not every day that you get to sit in a Cold War nuclear bomber...

Click for larger image

This museum also had the carbon fibre brakes of an A380 on display - very interesting.

Click for larger image

And, indicative of the misdirection of British post-war aviation, they also had two of the (very large) wheels and tyres from the Brabazon....

Click for larger image

A couple of things stand out from the 'admin' side of our trip - getting around is very easy when you have car navigation and (effectively) 140 km/h motorways, and accommodation is dirt cheap (AUD$65 tonight for a room with two beds, double glazed windows, heating, big screen TV - and most of the rooms have had baths). In fact, everything is cheaper than we thought it would be - I reckon I've now bought about 20 books!

Next issue - the Coventry transport museum (with historic bicycles and the current world Land Speed Record holder) and then Bletchley Park, where arguably Britishcode breakers won World War II.

Did you enjoy this article?

Please consider supporting AutoSpeed with a small contribution. More Info...

Share this Article: 

More of our most popular articles.
Will we one day all be driving solar powered cars? Nope!

Technical Features - 19 September, 2007

Alternative Cars, Part 2 - Solar

A very powerful electronic modification tool that costs nearly nothing...

DIY Tech Features - 20 January, 2009

How to Electronically Modify Your Car, Part 6

Building a speaker system into the floor and walls of a house

DIY Tech Features - 13 November, 2012

Sound in the Lounge, Part 1

Drives like a big engine... but drinks like a little one! How do you achieve that?

Special Features - 23 March, 2010

The Confidence Trick

The frame, seat and chain path

DIY Tech Features - 16 June, 2009

Chalky, Part 6

Setting up oxy acetylene gear

DIY Tech Features - 29 June, 2007

Beginners' Guide to Welding, Part 2

What's happened to electronic advances in cars?

Special Features - 19 May, 2009

Car Electronics Going Nowhere?

Developing a new Human Powered Vehicle suspension system

DIY Tech Features - 13 July, 2010

Chalky, Part 8

The first steam turbine powered vessel - and it was the fastest in the world!

Special Features - 27 July, 2010

The Turbinia

The best shape for inlet pipes

DIY Tech Features - 29 January, 2002

Ballistic Bellmouths

Copyright © 1996-2020 Web Publications Pty Limited. All Rights ReservedRSS|Privacy policy|Advertise
Consulting Services: Magento Experts|Technologies : Magento Extensions|ReadytoShip