Great British Railway Journeys 3 January 2022: Monday on BBC Four

Oxford to Abingdon – Michael Portillo strikes out on another series of railway journeys, this time through Britain between the world wars, armed with his 1930s Bradshaw’s guide.

He begins with a tour of the Home Counties and beyond, starting in the city of dreaming spires, Oxford, where in 1921 women were awarded degrees for the first time. At Somerville College, Michael finds out about a pioneering crystallographer, Dorothy Hodgkin, the only British woman to win a Nobel prize for chemistry.

Soaking up the glorious sights of the city, Michael is tempted by a fashion trend that reached its height during the interwar period: Oxford bags. At Walters & Co, founded in 1925, he finds just the ticket.

At Garsington Manor, on the outskirts of the city, Michael discovers the risqué activities of a social set centred on the house’s owner, Lady Ottoline Morrell, and famous artists and writers of the Bloomsbury Group. Tales of bohemian behaviour, nude frolicking and revelry in the beautiful manorial gardens turned heads as Britain buckled down in the face of impending war with Germany.

Next stop is Culham, en route for Abingdon, where from 1929 the iconic British sports car, the MG, was built. Michael hears about the origins of one of the nation’s best-loved marques and joins the proud owner of a 1938 MG VA for a spin.

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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