Great British Railway Journeys 10 January 2022: Monday on BBC Four

Farnborough to Winchester – Michael is heading for Farnborough, Hampshire, famous today for its airshow and home to what was then the Royal Aircraft Establishment. Richard Gardner of the Farnborough Air Sciences Trust tells Michael about the boffins who worked here and the inventions they came up with, such as retractable landing gear and flight-pressurised suits. Michael discovers that research here was so secret that the airfield was not marked on the map, let alone mentioned in his Bradshaw’s guide.

Michael continues west across Hampshire to Basingstoke to visit a glorious neo-Gothic stately home set in the North Wessex Downs. The magnificent Highclere Castle, seat of the Earls of Caernarvon, is perhaps best-known today as Downton Abbey. Michael meets the present Lady Carnarvon, wife of the eighth Earl, to find out more about her husband’s ancestor, a passionate Egyptologist who made a discovery that stunned the world: the tomb of Tutankhamun.

In the countryside around Highclere, Michael visits a chapel dedicated to the memory of Harry Willoughby Sandham, who died in 1919 as a result of his military service in Macedonia. 19 oil paintings by the artist Stanley Spencer fill this extraordinary and moving space. And in Ropley, there’s a rendezvous with an old friend on the Mid Hants Railway, where Thomas the Tank engine is oozing steam on the Watercress Line.

About Great British Railway Journeys

Cartographer George Bradshaw produced the first comprehensive timetable and travel guide of Great Britain’s railway system in 1840. Armed with his Bradshaw’s Guide, presenter Michael Portillo travels around the country by train exploring the ways that society and industry have changed since the guide was first published during the Victorian era. In each destination Michael visits local landmarks, meets residents, enjoys local food, and tries his hand at local crafts and manufacture, and considers the legacy of the industrial revolution.

This show is broadcast on BBC Two, also known as the British Broadcasting Corporation.

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