The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 2, Issue 9 (January 1, 1928)
We arrived at Liverpool at 4.30 p.m. on Friday, 21st August, 1925. Examination by the Immigration and Customs officers followed shortly afterwards, it being just after six p.m. before we left the wharf. The London, Midland and Scottish Railway Company had a special train at the wharf in readiness to run through to London, a large number of passengers going through by this train. We, however, preferred to travel to London in daylight so as to view the country.
We left Liverpool, therefore, at 11.5 a.m. next morning, and arrived at London, a distance of 192 miles, at 3.10 p.m. The passenger cars were of the small compartment type and were very comfortable. The country from Liverpool to London is chiefly agricultural. The farm houses, built mostly of brick, are of a rather old-fashioned type. We left Liverpool in fine weather, but on nearing London the weather changed and our first view of London was in the teeming rain.
We spent some days in London and were very greatly impressed with it. London is a wonderful old town with a grandeur and majesty all its own and in our opinion there is no city in the world to come up to it. New York is big and is a wonderfully fine city but has not the historical associations or the peculiar fascination of London.
We visited Wembley Exhibition on several occasions. The Metropolitan Underground Railway Company ran a frequent service of through trains from Baker Street, London, to the Exhibition grounds. The return fare, including admission to the Exhibition, was 2s., and the time occupied on the journey of eight miles was 15 minutes. Naturally, the New Zealand Court was the one that interested us most and we were very pleased indeed with the exhibits and the splendid way in which they were arranged. The whole Exhibition was a great display and we enjoyed every moment of the time spent there.
The Art Galleries in London are absolutely wonderful and to visit them was a continual source of pleasure.
The Tower of London is a prominent historical feature and most interesting. The Tower and its surrounding fortifications covers an area of 18 acres.
The Houses of Parliament, which adjoin the Thames River, are exceptionally fine buildings. (They are opened on Saturdays to the general public when Parliament is not in session). The rooms are not very large but the paintings which adorn the walls (and the decorations) are particularly fine.
London is a city of churches, some of which are very ancient. The most impressive of these are St. Paul's Cathedral, Westminster Abbey and the Roman Catholic Cathedral at Westminster.
The changing of the Horse Guards near Whitehall is a most unique and interesting ceremony. The brilliant mounted sentries and the beautiful black horses form a splendid spectacle as they move about. This ceremony is witnessed by hundreds of people daily.
Among the castles and palaces the chief place must be given to Windsor Castle which is certainly the finest castle we saw during our travels. There is no other building possessing the great and peculiar interest which belongs to Windsor Castle, intimately associated as it is with the annals of the Kings and Queens of England. As the King and Queen were not in residence at Windsor the State Apartments were open to the general public and we were taken through these apartments by the guide. The furniture, decorations and the paintings were exceptionally fine and most valuable.
We were also privileged to see St. George's Hall and St. George's Chapel at Windsor. Windsor Castle is built on a high hill and from the terraces of the Castle most delightful views, page 27 extending over the valley of the Thames, are obtained.
After leaving Windsor Castle we visited the famous Eton College and saw the beautiful church attached thereto and also the old college buildings. The school rooms in the old College are not now used to any extent as new school rooms have been erected in different parts of the town.
Near the Strand we came to Trafalgar Square—named in memory of the famous victory won by Lord Nelson and the British Navy at Trafalgar. In the centre rises the Nelson Column, a colossal monument to that great naval hero.
The Royal Gardens at Kew and the London Zoological Gardens are immense places and the collection of flowers in the former and animals in the latter is wonderful. It is, however, quite impossible, in the space at my disposal, to deal adequately with the many interesting and historical places in London. The shops are marvellous and many days can be spent visiting the various emporiums.
After a stay of four weeks in London we set off on a visit to Scotland. Our first stop was at Birmingham where I was shown over Messrs. Moreland and Impey's factory and witnessed the manufacture of the Powers Tabulating Machines and the cutting and printing of the cards for use in connection therewith.
From Birmingham we went on to Glasgow—travelling on the London, Midland and Scottish Railway train. The journey was most enjoyable and the compartment cars were beautifully fitted up. En route we passed through Crewe, Carlisle and the famous Gretna Green. The weather during the day was very fine, but shortly before reaching our destination it began to rain and on our arrival at Glasgow we were greeted with one of its famous Scotch mists.
Glasgow is a very fine town, but as the weather there during our stay was misty “rain” we were not able to see it at its best. A most interesting trip from Glasgow is what is known as the “Trossach's” trip embracing:—(1) Train from Glasgow to Callander. (2) Motor from Callander to Trossach's Pier. (3) Steamer on Loch Katrine from Trossach's Pier to Stronachlachar. (4) Coach from Stronachlachar to Inversnaid on the border of Loch Lomond. (5) Steamer on Loch Lomond from Inversnaid to Balloch Pier. (6) Train from Balloch Pier to Glasgow.
We left Glasgow at 10 a.m. and arrived back there at 7.20 p.m. The weather was fine but very cold. The steamer trips on Loch Katrine and Loch Lomond were very enjoyable and the scenery particularly good.
Glasgow obtains its water supply from Loch Katrine and the present supply is about 67,000,000 gallons daily. Although it was raining heavily we decided to visit Ayrshire and we cherish the memory of that visit. An express train left Glasgow at 12.30 p.m. and arrived at Ayr (distance 41½ miles) at 1.30 p.m., having one stop en route. The running was very fast at times and was smooth and comfortable. On arrival at Ayr we visited the little thatched cottage where Robert Burns was born in 1759. The cottage has been renovated from time to time, but as near as possible the old formation and style has been preserved. The “Burns” Museum is adjacent to the cottage and contains a number of the original writings, letters, also poetry, of Burns and a good library of books concerning him, and copies of his poems. A perusal of Burns' writings was most enjoyable and interesting. We next visited Burns' monument at Allo-way near Alloway Kirk Yard. This monument was built in 1820 and commands a delightful view. Near by is the Auld Brig O'Doon which is now used only for foot traffic.
En route from Glasgow to Oban we broke our journey at Stirling and had a very interesting visit to the castle there. This Castle is a solid building and full of history. In the distance is to be seen the “Wallace” monument, a tower page 28 220 feet high. The bronze statue of Wallace is of large proportions, the figure being 13 feet high and the sword 7 feet long. We left Stirling at 8.50 a.m. and arrived at Oban at 12.48 p.m. The scenery en route was exceptionally good. The autumn tints on the trees and the beautiful heather on the hills was a sight worth travelling many miles to see. We journeyed for some considerable distance along the shores of Loch Awe and also passed “The Pass of Awe” where King Robert the Bruce won through in 1310, defeating the enemy with heavy loss.
Oban is essentially a seaside resort and the hotel accommodation is particularly good. The harbour is a good one and a fine promenade runs along the foreshore. The climate is cold but bracing, and the air is invigorating.
Our next journey was from Oban to Inverness. En route we passed the picturesque Pass of Killie-crankie and travelled across the Grampian mountains at a height of 1,484 feet above sea level. Inverness is a very old city but is beautifully situated and overlooks the waters of Beauly Firth. It is modern in aspect and has many interesting associations. In the castle grounds there is a fine monument erected to Flora MacDonald in memory of the services rendered by her to Bonnie Prince Charlie.
A visit to Strathpeffer in the Highland Country was most enjoyable. Strathpeffer is a health and holiday resort and is probably the most important Spa north of the border. The High-land Hotel which is under the management of the London, Midland and Scottish Railway Company, is a particularly fine hotel. From Inverness we journeyed on to Aberdeen. Aberdeen is the finest city in the North of Scotland and has many very handsome buildings practically all of granite and stone. The granite quarries are only a short distance out of the town and a visit to them was most interesting. While at Aberdeen we visited Braemar, passing Balmoral Castle en route. The King and Queen were in residence at the time and the Castle was, therefore, not open to visitors.
The fishing industry at Aberdeen is one of very great importance and value, some 2,000 tons of fish being dealt with daily.
Our next journey was from Aberdeen to Edinburgh. We left Aberdeen at 12.45 p.m. and arrived at Edinburgh at 4.14 p.m., distance 130½ miles. Dundee was the most important town through which we passed en route. Immediately after leaving Dundee we passed over the Tay Bridge, two miles in length. This bridge, which was opened in 1888, took five years to build and cost over £650,000. The previous bridge was destroyed by a great storm on December 28th, 1879.
A few miles out of Edinburgh we crossed the Firth of Forth Bridge. This bridge, built on the cantilever principle, is over a mile long and cost over £3,000,000. It was opened for traffic early in 1890.page 29
Edinburgh is a beautiful city. Princes Street is the main street and contains some magnificent buildings. One of the most prominent features of Princes Street is the monument to Sir Walter Scott. It is a most imposing edifice.
Holyrood Palace, Edinburgh Castle and St. Giles Church, are some of the principal places of Edinburgh. Of the Abbey at Holyrood and its Church, there is left but a fragment of an empty shell. The walls and floors of the Chapel Royal are covered with monumental slabs of monarchs and others. In the Palace itself are seen the apartments of Mary Queen of Scots. The State apartment of our present King and Queen contain the Throne-room and other noble and lofty apartments with carved and painted ceilings.
Edinburgh Castle is built on the top of a high hill of solid rock and commands a wonderful view all around. In front of St. Margaret's Chapel, a very small but substantial building, rests the battered form of the great cannon “Mons Meg” believed to have been forged in 1845.—(To be continued.)