Great British Railway Journeys: Series 6
Travel Documentary hosted by Michael Portillo, published by BBC in 2015 – English narration
Great British Railway Journeys: Series 6
Passionate about trains, Michael Portillo continues to chart the great British romance with the railways in this phenomenally successful series. Armed with his copy of George Bradshaw’s famous railway handbook, he retraces four journeys that were first documented in the Victorian guide, witnessing what’s changed and discovering how our love of the railways began. Throughout, he makes stops at some of Britain’s most beautiful cities and secluded villages, meeting extraordinary people and hearing how their lives have been shaped by the railways.
Michael takes to the tracks again for this complete sixth series, with four new journeys in which he tries his hand at curling, visits the birthplace of golf, gives an old engine a fresh start in Derby, explores London’s Highgate Cemetery, takes a trip to Lindisfarne, learns of the miners who fuelled the Industrial Revolution, explores the treasures of the Bodleian Library… and much more!
1) Ayr to Stewarton
Michael Portillo embarks on a journey through southern Scotland from west to east. From Ayr, he admires the granite island of Ailsa Craig before getting to grips with the ancient sport of curling, with help from a Scottish world champion. The Ancient Society of Kilwinning Archers invites Michael to take part in the oldest archery competition in the world. At Barassie, he rides the footplate of a freight train hauling coal on Scotland’s oldest railway line. He caps off this leg of his journey in Stewarton.
2) Greenock to Larkhall
Michael Portillo continues his journey through the Scottish lowlands with his Bradshaw’s guide. He begins in the industrial town of Greenock from where he sets sail in the last seagoing paddle steamer in the world. In Glasgow, Michael investigates ‘Mackintosh style’ in an iconic city tea room, before seeing the devastating effects of the 2014 fire at the Glasgow School of Art. In Blantyre, Michael discovers the humble beginnings of Britain’s most famous missionary and explorer, and learns to bake sourdough in Scotland’s oldest bakery in Strathaven.
3) Motherwell to Linlithgow
Armed with his Bradshaw’s guide, Michael Portillo continues his journey through southern Scotland. He celebrates Victorian iron and steel in Motherwell and admires one of its crowning achievements – the Forth Rail Bridge. Michael journeys through picturesque countryside to admire the raw power of nature at the magnificent and romantic Clyde Falls, which inspired Wordsworth and Coleridge, and where Victorian ladies swooned. In Cumbernauld, Michael learns of the birth of one of Scotland’s best-selling soft drinks. In Linlithgow, he marvels at the ingenuity of the engineers who built the Union Canal and experiences a 21st-century technological refinement at Falkirk.
4) Stirling to Pitlochry
Steered by his Bradshaw’s guide, Michael Portillo begins this leg of his journey in Stirling, where he visits the scene of a bloody battle at Bannockburn. Following in the footsteps of Victorian holidaymakers, he travels north to Crieff to experience the popular Hydro. In the ancient capital of Scotland, Perth, Michael learns what it takes to make a sporran before catching the Highland mainline to Pitlochry and one of Queen Victoria’s favourite haunts. He finishes for the day with a wee dram in Scotland’s smallest distillery.
5) St Andrew s to Edinburgh
On the last leg of his journey across Scotland from west to east, Michael Portillo pays homage to the birthplace of golf at St Andrews. He visits a factory where they make traditional hickory-shafted clubs and ventures out on to the green. In Dunfermline, Michael discovers the poor beginnings of one of the world’s wealthiest men, a remarkable philanthropist who worked on the railroads before making his fortune in steel. Crossing the Firth of Forth via the legendary red bridge, Michael arrives in Edinburgh in the middle of the world’s largest arts festival, the Edinburgh Fringe, where he treads the boards in an unconventional adaptation of a play by Oscar Wilde.
6) Amersham to Regents Park
Michael Portillo embarks on a series of journeys through London
He travels on the capital’s first underground railway, the Metropolitan Line, from Amersham, where he discovers the foundations for modern-day suburbia. In Pinner, Michael finds out about a Victorian domestic goddess and whips up a pint of her fanciest ice cream. In Highgate, Michael investigates the terraced catacombs of one of London’s vast 19th-century cemeteries. At Baker Street, he comes face to face with Isambard Kingdom Brunel before experiencing a hot wax at first hand. He ends this journey with a trip to the zoo at Regent’s Park.
7) Deptford to West Silverton
Michael Portillo is invited aboard the construction locomotive for Crossrail to travel under the Thames and to meet Mary, on whom the project depends. He travels on the capital’s first railway and admires the remarkable brick viaduct on which it was built. He takes a tour underneath its arches with a Victorian map showing the poverty of those who once lived there. The Docklands Light Railway takes him to Greenwich, home to Britain’s most famous tea clipper. And in Woolwich, he discovers the firepower of the British Empire before coming to a sticky end at West Silvertown.
8) Stratford to London Victoria
Guided by his Bradshaw’s, Michael Portillo takes the high-speed line to Stratford to explore the legacy of the Olympic Park. He hears how an Indian lawyer, who learnt his trade in Victorian London, went on to change the world and explores an area of the city which has been home to wave upon wave of immigrants, Spitalfields. He ends this journey at Victoria Underground Station, where he finds out about the massive makeover currently under way.
9) London’s West End
Guided by his Victorian Bradshaw’s Guide, Michael Portillo explores London’s theatreland and discovers how 19th-century engineering made for spectacular theatricals. At Charing Cross, Michael learns about the ambitious building programme which saw Trafalgar Square replace streets of slums and comes face to face with George Bradshaw. At one of the busiest stops on the tube, Piccadilly Circus, Michael indulges in some retail therapy at a perfumery patronised by kings, queens and prime ministers. The Bakerloo to Oxford Circus line brings Michael to Soho and a grimmer side of Victorian London, where disease was rife.
10) High Street Kensington to London Bridge
On the last of his journeys in the capital, Michael Portillo explores Albertopolis and reaches dizzying heights inside a Victorian landmark. He meets some of Battersea’s most famous residents and gives one of them a bath! At Vauxhall, Michael learns about the darker side of London’s flower market in Bradshaw’s day. He ends this journey at London Bridge, where two stations are becoming one, and a new concourse is being built.
11) Derby to Grantham
Michael Portillo embarks on a new journey following his Bradshaw’s handbook from the heart of the industrial east Midlands to the north eastern island of Lindisfarne. On this leg, he gives an old engine a fresh start in the railway hub of Derby. In Nottingham, he discovers the Victorian origins of a well-known high street chemist. He then travels to Newstead Abbey, where he learns about its former owner, the young Lord Byron. A baking lesson in Grantham yields a batch of the oldest commercially traded biscuits in the country, and no visit to the town would be complete for Michael without calling at a historic grocer’s shop.
12) Boston to Hensall
Armed with his Bradshaw’s, Michael Portillo continues his journey from Derby to Lindisfarne. Beginning in Boston in the flatlands of Lincolnshire, Michael explores the connection between the town and its American namesake. At Southwell, he discovers the origins of a favourite Victorian apple and learns how to make apple pie. In Menston, Michael visits an imposing institution built to provide asylum for those suffering from mental illness and learns how volunteers care for its once derelict chapel and graveyard. At Wakefield, Michael manages to board one of Britain’s least frequent services and finds out what led to the birth of the parliamentary train. Along the way, he meets a former locomotive engineer who offers him the chance to drive a steam engine.
13) Hessle to York
Steered by his Bradshaw’s guide, Michael Portillo continues his journey from the heart of the east Midlands to Northumberland’s Holy Island. He begins in Hessle, on the north bank of the River Humber, in the shadow of the magnificent Humber Bridge, where he learns about the technology that made it possible. In Kingston upon Hull, Michael meets his friend and sparring partner, local MP Alan Johnson, who tells him about another famous son of his city, William Wilberforce. In Scarborough, Michael’s handbook directs him to the castle, where the founder of the Quaker movement was once imprisoned. His last stop of the day is York, where Michael learns what made the ancient capital a centre for the sweet-making industry.
14) Middlesbrough to Hexham
Following his Bradshaw’s Handbook, Michael Portillo begins this leg of his journey from Derby to Lindisfarne in the Victorian ironopolis of Middlesbrough. He visits one of the last cast iron foundries in the city and helps cast a carrot valve for a steam engine. His next stop is Darlington, spiritual home of the railways, where he learns how the city profited from its fast connections to the capitals of England and Scotland by developing a newspaper industry. Michael meets the editor of the Northern Echo and finds out about the colourful history of one of his predecessors, WT Stead. At Jarrow, Michael visits the monastery to learn about its famous monk, the father of English history, Bede. His last stop on this leg of his journey is Hexham, where he visits a historic ginger beer emporium.
15) Newcastle to Lindisfarne
Michael Portillo journeys from Newcastle up the north east coast to Lindisfarne. He finds out about the world’s earliest swing bridge and its inventor, Newcastle engineer Sir William Armstrong, and discovers how the city’s Victorian industrial heritage has found a new cultural purpose. From Seahouses by boat, amid puffins and cormorants, Michael goes in search of a darling of the Victorian press who, with her father, rescued nine people from tumultuous seas. On the Holy Island of Lindisfarne, Michael explores the lime kilns and finds out how, in the 7th century, Christianity spread from here across northern England.
16) Pembroke Dock to Swansea
Michael Portillo embarks on a new journey from west Wales to East Anglia. Beginning at Pembroke Dock, Michael visits the dockyard where Queen Victoria’s royal yachts were built. He investigates what caused riotous rebels to dress up as women in Narberth and spends the night at an inn in Carmarthen where Admiral Lord Nelson once met Lady Emma Hamilton. After flagging down the steam train to ride on the Carmarthen-to-Aberystwyth railway, Michael pitches in with the volunteers who look after the Gwili heritage line. In Swansea, on the estate of one of the pioneers of British photography, Michael learns how to pose for a photograph in Victorian style.
17) Swansea to Hereford
Michael Portillo continues his journey from Pembroke Dock to Cambridge. On this leg, he begins in the ruinous gardens at Aberglasney in Llandeilo before riding shotgun in the driver’s cab on the Heart of Wales Line on one of the most scenic routes in Britain. En route, Michael learns about the Victorian signalling system still in place today and struggles with his Welsh pronunciation. Over the border in Leominster, Michael steps out on to the dance floor at the Lion Hotel Ballroom, where a grand ball was held to celebrate the opening of the Ludlow to Hereford railway. He finishes this leg of his journey at a traditional cider house in Hereford, where he is invited to enjoy the fruits of his labour.
18) Abergavenny to Hanborough
Michael Portillo makes his way from west Wales across Britain to Cambridge. On this leg, he begins underground at Big Pit coal mine in Blaenavon, where he learns how Victorians toiled night and day to power the industrial revolution. On the River Usk, Michael casts a line and learns about 19th-century developments in angling. On rebellious turf in Ascott-under-Wychwood, Michael discovers the Ascott Martyrs and lends a hand ploughing on the farm where they struck their early blow for labourers’ rights. Michael’s last stop is Hanborough and Blenheim Palace, where he investigates a fire described in his Bradshaw’s which is said to have claimed some risque art.
19) Oxford to Luton
Michael continues his journey from Pembroke Dock to Cambridge. Beginning in the heart of academia in Oxford, Michael visits the Bodleian – the university’s research library – to see some Victorian treasures, including Mary Shelley’s manuscript of Frankenstein and a pocket-sized edition of Bradshaw’s Companion. At Bicester, Michael investigates two exciting new rail projects, one of which will be the first in over a hundred years to connect the capital with a major city. Michael finds out about Victorian philanthropy in Bedford, and in Luton he explores the dark arts of the hatter.
20) Oakham to Cambridge
On the final leg of his journey from west Wales to East Anglia, Michael Portillo begins in Oakham, where he learns of a noble tradition dating back to the Middle Ages. Following in the footsteps of peers over the centuries, he determines to take part. Heading east to Stamford, Michael discovers why the town is such an attractive location for period dramas and takes part in a Victorian melodrama. A ghoulish scene awaits in Peterborough as Michael visits a Victorian operating theatre where railwaymen were treated. Michael’s last stop on this final journey is Christ’s College at Cambridge University, where he learns about the student days of the father of evolution, Charles Darwin.
BBC Great British Railway Journeys Series 6 01of20 Ayr to Stewarton 720p HDTV x264 AAC MVGroup
Published on: Jul 02, 2016 @ 12:25