Great British Railway Journeys: Series 11
Michael Portillo begins a new series of railway journeys through 1930s Britain, armed with an interwar Bradshaw’s guide. He explores an unmistakably modern era of glamorous locomotives, cinema and dance halls but also a time of high unemployment and widespread poverty,
Part 1: Newcastle to County Durham
Beginning just outside Newcastle in Jarrow, Michael uncovers the desperation which led 200 men to march 300 miles to Westminster in order to petition the government for work.
Part 2: Kielder Forest to Edinburgh
On this leg, he explores Kielder Forest, beginning at the County Show in Stocksfield. Boarding the recently-restored Scottish Borders Railway at Galashiels, crossing the Newbattle Viaduct, Michael travels to Edinburgh.
Part 3: Falkirk to Dundee
Last stop on this leg is the city of Dundee, home of the three Js: jute, jam and journalism. And waiting for Michael at publisher DC Thomson is a black and red striped comic hero beloved of 1930s children.
Part 4: Dundee to Aberdeen
Continuing on the East Coast Line, Michael arrives in the Granite City of Aberdeen, where research at one of Britain’s first institutes of nutrition led to a nationwide programme of free school milk.
Part 5: Elgin to Loch Ness
Michael Portillo is in the Scottish Highlands on the last leg of his rail journey through 1930s Britain. Michael’s journey ends at one of the most notorious bodies of water in the world, Loch Ness. He joins the Deep Scan research team as they scour the deep for signs of the elusive monster.
Part 6: St Ives to St Day
Michael Portillo boards the Great Western Railway at the Cornish seaside resort of St Ives. Steered by his 1930s Bradshaw’s Guide, this week he explores the West Country between the wars.
Part 7: Truro to St Mawgan
Michael Portillo is in Cornwall’s county town, Truro, The Atlantic Coast branch line carries Michael north to Newquay, where he discovers a pioneering surfer and braves the waves on a belly board.
Part 8: Bodmin to Totnes
Michael reaches Bodmin en route to Totnes as he explores the West Country from St Ives to Salisbury Plain. In Devon, At Ivybridge, he boards a vehicle like no other to cross the causeway to Burgh Island, One stop further on the line, Michael arrives in Totnes, at the medieval Dartington Hall.
Part 9: Paignton to Tiverton
Michael Portillo’s exploration of the West Country continues in south Devon. Michael arrives in Paignton to investigate an extraordinarily high murder rate in the literature of the 1930s! The Dartmouth Steam Railway conveys him in style to the beautiful home of Agatha Christie, in the company of her great-grandson, James Prichard.
Part 10: Taunton to Salisbury Plain
Travelling east into Wiltshire, Michael reaches the largest training area of the British Army, Salisbury Plain, where the Royal Tank Regiment, established in 1939, is on manoeuvres with its awesome Streetfighter tank.
Part 11: Canterbury to Alexandra Palace
Beginning in Canterbury in Kent, Michael treads the boards as he uncovers the political message behind a play, published in 1936, inspired by the 12th-century murder of Archbishop Thomas a Becket. Outside Sevenoaks, Michael visits the country home of one of his political heroes, Sir Winston Churchill,
Part 12: Limehouse to Rochford
On this leg, Michael alights at Limehouse in east London for Cable Street, which became the focus of Britain’s fight against fascism in the 1930s. In Rochford in Essex, Michael learns how an unusual alliance between London’s Crossrail railway project and conservation is helping thousands of birds.
Part 13: Witham to Felixstowe
Michael Portillo’s railway journey through 1930s Britain from Canterbury to Skegness reaches Witham in Essex. Here he visits the factory of the world’s oldest supplier of metal framed windows which became popular in the 30s.
Part 14: Saxmundham to Norwich
Heading inland, Michael arrives in the historic city of Norwich, which in the 1930s was the shoe making capital of Britain. He hears how a particular style of ladies shoe put Norwich on the front foot and he puts his heart and soul into slipper making at one of city’s oldest cordwainers. Michael completes his tour of Norwich with a visit to the magnificent Scandinavian inspired art-deco City Hall, unveiled at the time of his guidebook.
Part 15: Attleborough to Skegness
Michael Portillo is in East Anglia on the last leg of his rail journey through 1930s Britain. He begins in Attleborough in Norfolk; Heading north into Lincolnshire, Michael’s journey culminates at RAF Coningsby – an aerodrome which was conceived as storm clouds gathered across the Channel. Michael explores iconic aircraft from the Second World War, before being treated to a dazzling display featuring the RAF’s latest combat aircraft.