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Alan Machin: Tourism As Education
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Berlin: Editing a Townscape
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Making Sense of The Travel Learning Experience- 1
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Back to Basics: Presentation given at the Cuba EduTourism Conference
The CETA Conference in Havana, Cuba, 8/9 November 2010
About the author
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At the heart of the tourist experience
Learning through Landscapes
Exploring Oxfordshire (and a bit of Gloucestershire!)
The Environment As Data: Building New Theories For Tourism
How tourists relate to places
Sail Gives Way to Steam
A return visit discovers just how much has been achieved in this iconic restoration
Richard III and the Battle of Bosworth Reenactment
Visits to Leicester and the battlefield event, 2013
Along The Way
Recollections and Reflections of 60+ Years' Learning about the World and its Ways
On the Edge of the New World
Shaping New England
Exploring Holderness in East Yorkshire; October 2012
Past Historic
Graf Zepplin, Spain 1968, OS History, Much Wenlock Olympics, Chatham Dockyard, Hawes Tourism, Colonial Williamsburg,
A Summer of Travelling / Matthew Starr
Three months' backpacking in Africa, Asia and Australia
East Anglia
The Broads, Pensthorpe natural history, Radar Museum, Caister Lifeboat Service and more!
A Richer Earth
Discoveries in the landscape and attractions of Shropshire
Blog Index Page
Blog pages from 2009 listed
From Strip Map to Sat Nav
'Finding the way' aids to exploration
Showcasing the World
How the Tourist Microcosm took centre stage
Doing A Dissertation
Notes to help students preparing their proposals
The Japanese Tsunami Destruction at First Hand
Sarah and Tom Wadsworth saw for themselves
Showcases: Examples
The range and variety of tourism's focal points examined
Jigsaw: Frameworks of Knowledge
The tourist jigsaw puzzle of - knowledge
Books and other works useful in studying tourism as education
Tourism's Educational Origins: Part 2
The development of tourism as education, 1845 -
Tourism's Educational Origins: Part 1
Tourism's educational origins and management
Impressions of Tourism in Cuba
Thoughts on having seen some of the country myself
Captain James Cook: North Yorkshire Days
Tracing the early life of Britain's greatest maritime explorer
Hunting the Hound of the Baskervilles
Tracking down places that inspired the famous detective story and moulded Dartmoor's image
Exploring the Idea of Dark Tourism
What is it? Is it a useful idea?
Talking to Tourists
Visitor interpretation - guide books, visitor centres and other media
Shades of Light and Dark in the Garden of England
An exploration in East Sussex and Kent, June/July 2010
Hunting the Gladiator and the Gecko
A thirteen-year search for a wartime adventure
Steam Up For A Famous Film's Birthday Party
The Railway Children weekend on the Worth Valley line raises questions about heritage presentations
Anne-Marie Rhodes: Making a Difference in South East Asia
Leeds Met graduate of '07 describes her activities
Discoveries in Northumberland, April 2010
Alnwick Gardens; Winter's Gibbet; Holy Island, Cragside, Wallington Hall
Discoveries in the Midlands, March 2010
Bletchley Park National Codes and Cipher Centre; and the Rollright Stones
Alan Machin's Blog - April 2010
The development of tourism as education continued
Jigsaw Puzzle!
The Adventure of the Timely Tourist
Leaders Into The Field
People who inspired everyone to explore
Alan Machin's blogs - February and March 2010
Postings on the history tourism as education - redirection
Alan Machin's Blog - January 2010
Tourist photography and souvenirs
Earlier front-page blog postings - January 2010 onwards
Archived after being on the Home Page
News from higher education and - beyond
The Development of Educational Tourism
Key dates in the development of educational tourism
Alan Machin's Blog - December 2009
Christmas Quiz and other postings
Analysing Heritage Tourism
Ideas and perspectives on a hugely important sector
Alan Machin's Blog - November 2009
Visitors' Views of Stonehenge, West Sussex - and other Postings
Are Universities Losing Their Way?
Reflections having retired
Teaching Tourism At Leeds Met
Remembering the Best
Alan Machin's Blog - October 2009
Thoughts about university life and discovery by travel
Alan Machin's Blog - September 2009
Further postings about a trip last month to the USA, and about higher education
Alan Machin's Blog - August 2009
Postings about a trip this month to the USA
Alan Machin's Blog - July 2009
The Story So Far reaches the summer
Alan Machin's Blog - June 2009
The Story So Far looks back on seventeen years at Leeds Met
Alan Machin's Blog - May 2009
Another month of The Story So Far
Alan Machin's blog - April 2009
Yet more of the Story So Far
Alan Machin's blog - March 2009
More of The Story So Far
Alan Machin's Blog - February 2009
The Story So Far - pioneers, people and places
Alan Machin's Blog: January 2009
The Story So Far .... first postings of '09
Alan Machin's Blog: December 2008
The Story So Far .... latest postings
Alan Machin's Blog - November '08
The Story So Far.... continued
Alan Machin's Blog: October 2008
The Story So Far....
No Place Like Rome
The eternal city with the eternal tourists
Charleston, South Carolina
A photo essay about a fine historic city
Idealog - December 2007
Ideas, notes and comments
Idealog - November 2007
Ideas, notes and comments
The Educational Origins of Tourism
Discussion paper
Idealog - October 2007
Coton Military Cemetery; Education and Tourism; Chatham Maritime; Dickens World; Quiz Answers; Tourist Guides; Mediation In Tourism
Idealog - September 2007
Plane Paradox;Tour Guiding; Where in the World?; Do Tourism Students Know Where They Are?; Leeds Met's Wow!; Sea Harrier; Scarborough and Tourism As Education; Doing A Dissertation; Types of Tourist; A Media Lens; Cost of Travelling Alone; Risk of Bias?
Idealog - August 2007
A People Industry; Heritage Interpretation; Lud's Church; Tourists Go Home!; Stone Gappe YHA; Insight Guides; Eyewitness Guides; Bramhope Tunnel; Elizabethan Progress; Information Quality Matrix
Idealog - July 2007
Hidden Heroes, Health Tourism, Holme Fen Posts; Harrogate (again); Whitby Abbey; Dramatic Interpretation; Harrogate Interpretation, Attractions and Royal Hall
Idealog - June 2007
Christian Pilgrimage; Cincinnati Museums Centre; The Coming of the Guide Book; Talking to Tourists - Media, Stages of the Visit, The Service Journey; Tourism's Missing Link; The Final Call; SATuration level; Halifax's Edwardian Window on the World
Idealog - May 2007
Martin and Osa Johnson, Wensleydale Creamery, Malham Tarn, Thomas Cook, Northern Ireland's Tourism Rebuild, Jamestown Festival Park, Cite des Sciences
Idealog - April 2007
The Promenade Plantee, The Jardin des Plantes, Environmental Data, Victorian Beauty Spot Rediscovered, Jamestown, The Anglers' Country Park, Children's Museums, Fairburn Ings
Idealog - March 2007
A Sense of the Past- The 'Amsterdam', The Outdoor Classroom, Film-Induced Tourism, Making Tracks for the Coast and Country, Pictures, Context and Meaning, Classics-on-Sea, Hi Hi Everyone!, Dark Side of the Dream, Holodyne - The Action Cycle
Idealog - February 2007
Don't Go There!, Space Tourism, The Crystal Cathedral, New Books on Tourism, Dark Tourism - Undercliffe Cemetery, Showcase - The Louvre, A Class Act, First Impressions Count, Postal Pleasures, Canaletto in Venice, Serpent Mound, Capsule Culture etc
Idealog - January 2007
Capsule Culture,Seaside Style, Poble Espanyol, Mallorca, Edgar Dale, Children's Holiday Homes, Representations of Reality, Outdoor Education in Germany, Baedeker Guides, Geography Textbooks, Environmental Data Theory etc
Idealog - December 2006
Writers on Landscape, Story Books, The Deep, Flour Power and the Archers,Showcases: Grand Tour, Halifax Piece Hall, Books of Concern about Tourism, Tourist Traces, Tourist Typologies, The Growth of Educational Tourism, The Field Studies Council, etc
Idealog - November 2006
A blog of ideas, comments and notes
Travel To Understand: Belfast
Telling the stories of troubled times
World Quiz 2010
Geography with a tourism angle
The Monterey Bay Aquarium
An outstanding educational facility in California
Chicago: Tourism Re-Imaging
A closer view of an iconic city
Colonial Williamsburg
A Virginia history showcase
A Social Club Outing By Train, 1935
How to do Scotland in 30 hours flat
Going Dutch
Presenting the past in the Netherlands
Keukenhof: Business is Blooming
Using tourism to promote an industry
A View of Italy for the City
Trentham Gardens Revived
A Case Study in Heritage Management
A curious tale of misleading publicity
Old Rice Farm
The story of the house in the 'holler'
Perfection in Paradise: The Eden Project
New page being added: The Eden Project's design for success
Escaping From Slavery: Facing Our Past
The US National Underground Railroad Freedom Center
Prague Tourist Shows
Outstanding showcase attractions in the city
Retracing the Steps: Tourism as Education
ATLAS Conference paper given in Finland, 2000
Tourism and Historic Towns: The Cultural Key
A background paper for a Council of Europe Conference
The Social Helix
Visitor Interpretation as a Tool for Social Development, 1989
Malta Residential, 14-21 Feb 2006 - Page 1
Reports and Pictures
Malta Residential, 14-21 Feb 2006 - Page 2
Photos and reports of Friday 17 Feb onwards
Malta Residential, 14-21 February 2006 - Page 3
Reports and pictures from Sunday, 19 February onwards
Tourism Alumni Reunion, 8 March 2003
Leeds tourism students reunion 2003
World Geography Quiz 1
A test of your knowledge
The Adventure of the Timely Tourist
The answers
Tall Ships Race 2010 Converged on Hartlepool
A major event-based boost for tourism in the town
Plymouth: From the Tamar to the Sea
Starting point for explorations round the globe
Plimoth Plantation
A reconstruction of the Mayflower settlers' village of the 1620s on the north east coast of North America
World Geography Quiz 2010 - Answers
Geography with a tourism angle
World Geography Quiz - Answers
Christmas Quiz 2009 - Answers
A day in the city including the Botanic Garden
Tourist Showcases
Examples from around the world

Past Historic

Graf Zeppelin

Travellers’ Tales: Crossing Siberia by Zeppelin

It’s a well-used phrase describing the reports that travellers bring back from distant places, but it is still one of the best.  And the tales they tell give a strong indication of what they discovered.

Most people who know anything about airships will recall images of the biggest of them all, the Hindenburg, crashing in flames as it came in to land at Lakehurst, New Jersey in May 1937.  Thirty-six people died.  It was not the worst airship disaster – the Akron and the R101 took the lives of seventy-two and forty-eight respectively when they were lost.  But the Hindenburg was being filmed and at the same time described on the radio as it came in to its mooring tower.  The film report showed the fireball reducing it to a charred mass within minutes.  The distraught radio reporter added an immediacy and emotion that brought home the human tragedy.

At one time, airships were thought to be the future of world travel.  The dangerous use of hydrogen as a lifting gas, the susceptibility they had to damage in bad weather and the scale of manpower required by ground crews to handle them stacked up problems.  Their large crew size compared with small passenger capacities produced too little economic return.  And yet they pioneered journeys across continents and oceans in the few decades that they were used.

A previous airship, the Graf Zeppelin – German designed and operated like many of the others – made momentous flights to America, Africa and around the globe.  They could only fly a few thousand metres high and relatively slowly.  The crew sometimes had to climb out onto the top of the vast, cigar-shaped gas container to carry out repairs, or down ladders from the hull into engine pods hung from suspension frames.  The low height and speed meant that windows could be opened and were big enough to offer excellent views of the ground.  When the Graf Zeppelin made a publicity-seeking flight round the world, it flew across Siberia between Moscow and Japan.  Reporters and adventurers on board saw landscapes never before observed by anyone: huge distances across forests crossed by immense rivers with hardly a town or village to be seen.  The few settlements they did find contained startled peasants unused to many visitors and certainly not a lumbering, engine-driven flying craft passing over them.

The sole woman on board, the English woman, Lady Hay, typed her account in the saloon among the rest of the 61 crew and passengers.  She was acting as a reporter for the Hearst Newspapers in the USA who were sponsoring the trip.  “The extraordinary privilege ... to see Russia from one end to the other as no mortal eyes have ever done before”, she wrote.  Another report, Karl von Wiegand, added, “We saw villagers run wildly into forests and houses and gather around churches, gazing to the sky in awe and terror”.  The commander of the airship, Hugo Eckener, thought the landscape “horribly beautiful when we thought we might have to land on this carpet and be trapped helpless and lost amid the swamps and countless little streams”.  In other places, there was nothing but monotonous tundra, marshy and treeless, with streams and lakes and patches of mosses and lichens but without roads or tracks and no human habitation whatsoever.  The reports were radio-ed back to the reporters’ papers via ground stations once they reached cities on the Pacific coast, and they were carried worldwide within hours.  A media window was slowly being opened on one of the biggest, but mainly unknown, countries of the world, thanks to the pioneering travellers about the Graf Zeppelin. Until the Lakehurst inferno ended the era of airship travel for good.

Illustration: Wikipedia Commons

Botting, Douglas (2002) Dr Eckener’s Dream Machine, London, HarperCollinsPublishers

Swansea students in Valencia in 1968

The Terrain in Spain - Still Quite Plain

I was recalling a residential trip to Spain back in 1968, with a friend who also went – though on the ‘other half’ of the interesting package arrangement our university organised.  The old 35mm transparency seen above is showing its age (and evidence of dusty storage: the group had just arrived in Valencia).
There were about ninety students in the final year Geography class at Swansea.  Half of them went with their tutors by coach to Southampton for the ferry to Bilbao.  They then spent nine days crossing the country from the green northern coast, through the dry centre and semi-desert, to Valencia.  We flew out from Cardiff to Valencia, swapped out plane for their coach, and did their journey in reverse.  The ten days cost £50 plus lunches and spending money – a lot of cash then and we had some grumbles with the tutors before the trip about it.  But what good value it turned out to be!  There are so many memories of it even now, more than forty years later.  How much I remember about the Geography of Spain is an interesting point.  Quite a lot about the general character of the places we visited, rather less about the technicalities of economics and climate or the historical setting.  It was an adventure, not least because I hadn’t been to Southern Europe before, only Northern and Eastern.  My friend took to the place so much that after graduation and marrying her fiancé they took a car and made the self-same journey together.
It was the first time I ate octopus rings and frittata.  It was the first time that I had seen somewhere as yellow-dry as the country around Zaragoza.  The dead dog on the beach in Valencia looked a bit old and well established as a feature.  Going into a small village shop to buy something for lunch, we were served ahead of others waiting, which made us feel special, but perhaps the locals were going to spend time gossiping.  And maybe they charged us a bit more.  We were in the bar of a hotel during the Eurovision Song Contest: a very, very noisy evening that I would often recall when with my own students and colleagues on residentials years later we had our last-might socials. 
Orange groves were new to me, as were olive trees, cacti and sage bushes.  In a tiny village, somewhere near Burgos we could see how poor it was compared with their big cities and our own villages back home.  Yet in the little church, the gold-leaf covered statues must have taken much of their income to obtain.  When we reached Bilbao, there were the celebrations for Easter.  At night there was a long procession of men in costumes looking like Ku-Klux Klan figures accompanying their saints’ statues.  To us, it looked mysterious, dark and alien.  We made the ferry journey overnight across a choppy Bay of Biscay.  From Southampton our coach journey after the wide sweeping landscape of Spain seemed like a trip through toy land by comparison.

I recognise Peter Quick in the photo, but no-one else.  Kath Fewster and Sue Miller, where are you now?

Map of a Nation

Book Review

Map of a Nation: A Biography of the Ordnance Survey
Rachel Hewitt
Publisher: Granta
RRP: £9.99 but available new or used for much less

This book first appeared in paperback in June 2011 and received good media reviews and earned the author the Jerwood prize for non-fiction.  Reader reviews on Amazon were more mixed.  The more critical ones read as though they were from a band of specialists who thought they were the only ones who should write about the OS.
After the first chapter, which seemed a bit of unnecessary personality stuff, I got into the book and found it delightful and informative.  Those negative Amazonian reviewers seem to think that only an academic, technical and comprehensive work should ever be written.  This is actually an excellent, readable account of the OS in its historical context. It relates very well to its audience, who will not all be techno-geeks.

I read this alongside a more technical history and still understood by doing so far more of how the OS came about and was shaped by personalities and politics.  The way in which the Survey made maps for the army to use but from the start sold them to the public came over well. Lots of thought-provoking material about the background to tourism and educational travel.

It would have been good to see the story brought up to date, and it might have been good to have more comparisons with, for example, the French and American surveys.  But Rachel Hewitt's chosen remit was perfectly valid. Like the Ordnance Survey in its early days, she mapped out her work according to chosen priorities and delivered a very worthwhile result.

Much Wenlock - home of the modern Olympics

Making History and Saluting It

The London Olympic Torch Relay Reaches the Home of Modern Olympic Games

A doctor in Shropshire was one of the leading proponents of modern Olympic Games.  Dr William Penny Brookes practised in Much Wenlock in the middle of the nineteenth century.  Travelling around Shropshire on horseback, he saw the reality of farming life – often a matter of poverty and ill health.  He also had a concern for education.  In 1841, the Wenlock Agricultural Reading Society was established with books on farming and, later, natural history and geology.  But as a believer in the ‘healthy mind in a healthy body’ principle of the Greek philosopher Thales, Brookes wanted to improve the physical wellbeing of his community.
 In 1850, he started an Olympian Class to encourage outdoor recreation.  Later that year he initiated the Wenlock Olympian Games.  On 22 October, a band led a procession with flags flying to the first of two days’ games with cricket, football, races.  Long and high jumping and quoits.  Over the years, the annual event grew more and more.  Some elements of carnival were added to the procession.  Brookes hoped to have a National Olympian Games, though this did not happen.  He also wanted to see an international event.  In 1889, the 80-year old doctor made contact with a twenty-six year old Frenchman, Baron Pierre de Coubertin, who was also promoting sporting events as good for health and social and moral well-being.  De Coubertin visited Much Wenlock in October the following year, meeting Games organisers for dinner at the Raven Hotel.  A mini-Olympian Games was held in his honour to show what the town did, with the opening processional event designed to impress, speeches made and champagne drunk. 
 Out of the vision shared by the two men came the first international Olympic Games of Athens in 1896.  Pierre de Coubertin paid honour to the town later when he wrote in a New York journal, "It is safe to say that the Wenlock people alone have preserved and followed the true Olympian traditions".  He presented a commemorative medal to the town in 1891.  The mascot for the London 2012 Olympics was officially named as Wenlock in a visit to the town by Jonathan Edwards as a representative of the organising committee.  Edwards accepted the position of Honorary President of the Much Wenlock Olympian Games.
In 1995, an Olympian Trail was opened round the town.  It marked the hundredth anniversary of Dr Brookes’s death, sadly just four months before the first international Olympic Games.  The trail includes many places associated with the Much Wenlock events, such as the Raven Hotel and the Linden field where the town’s Games are held each year.  In the true spirit of the William Penny Brookes, walking the trail tells a historical story while giving healthy exercise through a walk around the town.

Chatham Historic Dockyard

Chatham Historic Dockyard

HMS Victory was built at Chatham Dockyard and launched in 1765. The slipway used was replaced by a dry dock years ago and now is the permanent home of HMS Cavalier, a C-class destroyer of Second World War vintage. Nearby in another dry dock is HM Submarine Ocelot, the last warship to be built for the Royal Navy at Chatham. Then there is HMS Gannet, a Victorian sloop, now more than 130 years old.

The Historic Dockyard was handed over by the Royal Navy to become a major museum in 1984. It occupies a vast area and yet not all of what was once operated by the Navy – parts of the dock became a commercial dockyard. And even more of this important port had military connections through defensive forts and facilities stretching around it.
Since 1984, considerable work by the Charitable Trust running the Historic Dockyard has turned it into one of the best centres for education about the Royal Navy and its history. At first glance, it might look like boys’ toys and imperial pride, but that would be a very superficial view. Visitors go in with existing knowledge from education and the media, and I suspect that with age they move away from war-is-fun games towards an appreciation of the pain and horror that killing machines really mean. The fact that people can be willing to die for a cause does need to be both acknowledged and celebrated. It’s the cause that must be judged as right or wrong.

Boarding the beautiful sloop, HMS Gannet, might make it look romantic. Only a fool would choose to forget the seasickness, the shattering noise of battle and its aftermath. HM Submarine Ocelot may look sleek, sneaky and powerful on the outside. Get inside and see the reality – claustrophobic spaces that were the only world of the matelots who operated it: no view of an outside world and little knowledge of what it held, for days on end.

Whether you like the use of the technology or not, it remains a fact, that it was developed using ingenuity and skill. It’s sadly true that pursuing wars had beneficial effects for peaceful technology. Without military motivations driving change, a lot of what we enjoy today would never have happened, from manufacturing abilities to computer communications. One of the vast Dockyard sheds protects lifeboats of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution. The quality of the boats and the dedication of the men who risk their lives sailing them owe much to the traditions and technical know-how of the military.


Hawes attractions

Industrial Tourism in Hawes, North Yorkshire 

Following on from an ‘Along the Way’ posting recently, it was interesting to make another visit this week to two examples of industrial tourism in Yorkshire. 

In May of 1992, the Dairy Crest Creamery in Wensleydale was closed. 59 jobs were lost. Production of the local cheese was moved to Lancashire from the town of Hawes. Within a few months, a team of managers from the plant along with a local businessperson bought the former creamery from Dairycrest. By Christmas, Wensleydale cheese was being made there again. 

Over the ensuing two decades, inspired marketing has turned the business into one of Britain’s outstanding cheese-making operations with a wide range of basic and specialist products. These are sold directly to the public in an on-site shop as well as through supermarkets and small stores round the country. Part of the success is owed to turning the dairy into a tourist attraction. Visitors can see cheese being made, sample the products and buy them in the shop, and eat in either the cafe or the restaurant in the complex. A souvenir shop sells gifts of the usual kind. The marketing effort added the making of a link to the Wallace and Gromit movies – Wallace’s favourite cheese is that from Wensleydale – priceless high-quality publicity for the produce. Another creamery has been acquired near Ripon and 200 people are now employed. 

Almost forty years ago, the rope-making firm of W R Outhwaite, also in Hawes, changed hands. Tom Outhwaite was the last of the family to run the business there. It had its origins in the very early eighteenth century. The Outhwaites had taken it on in 1905. As Tom retired a young couple from Nottingham, Peter and Ruth Annison, moved to Hawes. Both had been college lecturers. They bought the business. As with the Creamery, they turned partly to tourism to make it successful on a larger scale. Visitors could see ropes made for a variety of uses from animal leads to church bell-ropes, candle-wicks to colourful crowd barriers. 

The old rope-works shed was replaced, though the new structure was kept carefully matching the footprint of the original. Over time, two extensions were built, the second a large stone factory unit along the edge of the former Hawes railway station car park. Next to the actual track stands the Dales Museum with a large Tourist Information Centre. Although not in the town centre the combination of car parking, TIC, museum and rope-works makes a great deal of sense. New staff has been taken on as the business has expanded. The Annisons have also been involved in efforts to extend the diesel-hauled heritage railway that runs from Leeming Bar to Redmire. The dream is to take it as far as Hawes along the former British Rail track bed. Could it even go further – running up the Dale to meet the busy line of the Settle and Carlisle line? If it did, there could be a link between two important mainline services operating alongside the Pennines. 

These two manufacturing businesses in Hawes illustrate again the long-established usefulness of tourism in supporting industrial growth. They also show just how commercial marketing works hand-in-glove with community redevelopment. Seeing tourism marketing as a purely commercial concern misses the point. Commercial- and community-led tourism have been in a symbiotic relationship for over two hundred years. 


Colonial Williamsburg composite

Book Review

Creating Colonial Williamsburg
Anders Greenspan
2002: Washington DC, Smithsonian Institution Press
ISBN 1 58834 001 5 (pbk)

It's easy to think of Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia as just another theme park. This presentation of eighteenth century American colonial life has to compete with numerous other Disneyesque tourist attractions. There is the usual danger of step-back-in-time-ism (an offence that should lead to a long jail sentence) based on what looks like a costume pageant set in some kind of trans-Atlantic Ruritania. It’s clean, polished, smiling and tranquil. The first time I visited, in the early 70s, I had no idea that it was anything other than an open air museum for which a rather pricey ticket bought a film show followed by a day looking at a series of exhibits. Spending a couple of days there in the summer of 2005, I realised that I could walk from my motel along a street of Williamsburg houses, past some shops, turn left, and along the main street of the historic area – for free. My ticket this time bought me what it did last time: the introductory 1957 film, “The Story of a Patriot”, a short shuttle bus ride, and access to inside many of the buildings which make up the project’s attractiveness. What it encompasses is a part of the straight-forward city of Williamsburg, but one which has been conserved, costumed and largely created to tell the story of America on the eve of independence. Nearby are the Jamestown historic centres, recalling the days and events depicted in Terrence Malik’s 2005 film “The New World”, and Yorktown, which was the site of the British army surrender to the colonists under George Washington.

Colonial Williamsburg is different. It is just part of the city, even if a very differently managed and presented one. This is not what we in Europe might call a city: it feels more like an attractive town of low-rise, low density construction. Open spaces and parkway roads define the landscape as much as do town buildings. The movement to conserve some of the remarkable buildings scattered amongst the main street shops and filling stations of 1920s Williamsburg took time to create what we see today. Anders Greenspan’s book, published under the imprint of the prestigious Smithsonian Institution, tells the story, and how the emphasis changed gradually from rather cosy Americana towards something which looked at, and presented, some of the less comfortable components of Virginian life – the basis in slavery, the hard life of less privileged people and the role of women in the community. It has been a story which needed to tread a careful path between what visitors, often from the north, expected to see, and what residents of the state, born in the values of the south, would allow to be shown. Pride in American independence in the inter-war years was one thing, pride in being a bastion of democracy in the second world war another, but both were easy things to celebrate. Introducing black faces and recalling domestic hardships were much more difficult if visitors didn’t want to be reminded about them. And the Williamsburg project was bound to be expensive, so success depended on those visitors being happy to spend money on tickets, food in the inns of the town, and goods in the shops.

Greenspan’s book – prominently available in Colonial Williamsburg’s excellent bookshop – is often critical, but always fair and detailed. The demands of the physical conservation programme, the visitor interpretation and the background developments which made it possible are thoroughly examined. As a history of a history project it rightly avoids the kind of misleading theorising that sometimes obscures the understanding of complex and changing interpretive schemes. His book brings out the educational basis of the town. Just as school-based education has changed and evolved, so this kind of tourist attraction as grown with the changing values of the community at large. This is a book which must be read by anyone wanting to know better how that has happened.

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