Metroland

By | Category: Travel news

Forty years ago, the then Poet Laureate, Sir John Betjeman, made a TV series called Metroland which explored the expansion of London into suburbia. It had a huge impact at the time and part of that is remembered this weekend at the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre at Quainton Road near Aylesbury.

This year is the 150th anniversary of the underground system in London. Gradually the system expanded further and further out from the centre, bringing in workers and shoppers, civil servants and visitors, until the last new line – the Jubilee opened in the 1970’s when Betjeman was still alive. And at Quanton Road in 1973, he reminisced about when he stood on the same spot at the end of the 1920’s. You can stand there this weekend whilst enjoying the celebration. There will be the films Betjeman made and, of course, all the trains and carriages that worked the Metropolitan and other lines, footplate rides next Tuesday and stories for youngsters

Betjeman at St Pancras

Betjemen – he of “Come friendly bombs and fall on Slough” fame – was more than a poet; he was a train man, a campaigner for buildings protection and restoration and a natural for television. Probably the first poet laureate that the average person could name, his statue at St Pancras station in London shows him trying to stopping his hat blowing away as, I think, a departing train causes his overcoat to billow.

London Transport Museum poster exhibition

The anniversary is also celebrated by an exhibition at the London Transport Museum in Covent Garden which continues into the autumn. If you haven’t visited the Museum yet it is worth a visit for its collection of wonderful posters created by artists during the wars that have become so highly collectable, for the engines and carriages and for the story of how the tunnels were constructed by sheer, back-breaking labour.

But in the meantime head into Betjeman country and see the Victorian steam engines, ride the rails and imagine what it must have been like to have a steam engine roaring out of a tunnel at you. And if you travel by train to Aylesbury Vales station a free vintage bus service will take you to Quainton Road.

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