Placeholder Image

Subtitles section Play video

  • between the wars at bradshaw's  was an essential guide during  

  • the golden age of rail travel when glamorous  locomotives travelled at world record speed  

  • i'm using a 1930s edition to  explore a discernibly modern era  

  • of mass consumption when art deco cinemas and  dance halls entertained millions while industrial  

  • britain was thrown into unemployment and poverty  and storm clouds gathered across the channel

  • my welsh railway tour resumes  in the mountains of snowdonia

  • i'll travel on the world's  oldest narrow gauge line  

  • this is one of the prettiest rides you'll ever  do on a steam railway i'll discover how medieval  

  • castles inspired a young lawrence of arabia he  was looking at not only their fortifications  

  • but also their dungeons their latrines he was  doing drawings of their windows and archways

  • and i'll visit a fantasy village  with a strong italian accent  

  • he was propaganda for architecture he  wanted to show you could have fun with it  

  • and make it interesting but work with  nature to create something quite special

  • my route has brought me from cheshire along the  coast to bangor and over to the island of anglesey  

  • from frandido i pushed south to discover the  beauty of snowdonia national park from here i'll  

  • head down the cambrian coast to aberdeenswith  before finishing in mid wales at newtown  

  • this part of my journey will  take me from blind eye festiniuk  

  • via tana bulk on a heritage  line to the coast at porthmatic  

  • i'll travel around the ghastly nestory to port  median then on to the final stop on this leg

  • i'm beginning this morning in the  historic mining town of lanai festiniag  

  • the end of the line for the conwey valley railway

  • some of the richest heritage of european  civilizations was lost during the wars of the  

  • 20th century as cathedrals monasteries and guild  halls were reduced to rubble but anything that  

  • could be moved sculptures paintings even stained  glass windows could be evacuated north wales  

  • already a haven for children and civil servants  became a hideaway also for great works of art

  • during the second world war an abandoned mine  at this slate quarry high above the town became  

  • an unlikely home for the priceless collection of  the national gallery suzanne bosman has written a  

  • book telling how masterpieces by artists such  as turner and rembrandt were kept safe here  

  • deep underground was it taken for granted  that everything would have to leave london  

  • well yes because all the military experts were  saying that london would be flattened completely  

  • so they had to get everything out and they took  the decision ten days before the declaration of  

  • war was made and by the third of september all  the paintings were out and in wales now that  

  • is extraordinary what a successful operation and  you say they came to wales to wear well through a  

  • number of locations because nowhere was big enough  to accommodate the whole collection we're talking  

  • about 2000 paintings at the time so some of them  went to bangor some of them went to penryn castle  

  • some went to carnarvon and some went to the  national library of wales in aberystwyth in may  

  • 1940 after germany invaded france a more secure  home was needed for these national treasures  

  • the trustees of the gallery said they're not  safe in wales they could be bombed bomb raids  

  • on liverpool were happening and so they said let's  evacuate the whole collection to canada goodness  

  • and so kenneth clark who was the director at the  time he wasn't happy with the whole idea simply  

  • because boats were being sunk in the atlantic  left right and center that is a terrifying  

  • thought absolutely i think if the plan had gone  ahead you can actually be quite sure that some of  

  • the collection would now be at the bottom of the  atlantic so he appealed to churchill directly and  

  • explained the situation and churchill could see  this would be a propaganda disaster yes to have  

  • the national collection leave these shores so he  apparently said to uh clark hide them in caves  

  • and cellars but not one picture shall leave this  island a marvelous churchillian phrase and order  

  • but why then this extraordinary place well they  need somewhere which was accessible by train but  

  • they needed somewhere pretty remote and secret  as well it was still a pretty good nick but it  

  • was empty but the natural advantage of this site  is that you've got the slate and then you get the  

  • granite layer up above and granite is a wonderful  natural bomb-proof bunker in the summer of 1941  

  • the precious paintings arrived here by train  from across wales and were loaded onto lorries  

  • to be reunited hundreds of feet underground  so michael welcome to the national gallery  

  • it's not quite the facade that we're used to  from trafalgar square in london now tell me and  

  • what form were the paintings rolled up or in their  frames some of them were taken out of their frames  

  • simply because the frames are too large to handle  to put in the lorries others came in their frames  

  • they were in crates with lots of packing and was  anything done to prepare the conditions inside the  

  • mountain oh definitely the treasury made money  available and these mines were adapted they had  

  • to blow a much bigger entrance to accommodate  the wagons going in and then inside the mine  

  • they built what i call little bungalow structures  in order to put the paintings in a controlled  

  • environment so that they didn't have widely  differing conditions of temperature humidity so it  

  • was almost like a little village under a mountain  what happened to the national gallery in london  

  • during the war it was hit nine times by enemy  action and one particular night in october 1940  

  • um a bomb went right through to the basement and  that was where all the rafales were kept and so  

  • it really shows that the evacuation was not an  overreaction you know the gallery was very much  

  • in danger so in there lived michelangelo's  villacus leonardo's titians the whole lot  

  • absolutely yeah and very happily i think  it's time to bid farewell to the mountains

  • in the nearby village of tannebulk  i'm picking up a very special train

  • look at this beautifully restored  and maintained locomotive  

  • blanche rescued from a penryn  quarry and built in 1893.

  • the festive railway promises a spectacular  ride taking me 700 feet down to the sea so

  • it's ironic to be traveling first class on the  festinia railway because it was built to carry  

  • slate from the mountains down to the sea at  port madonna and in fact the first service  

  • was provided by gravity on the way down  and by horses on the return this fastinio  

  • railway company was founded by actor parliament  in 1832 and because it's narrow gauge it was  

  • never nationalized making it the oldest  surviving railway company in the world

  • after 40 minutes we've made it to the coast and  i'm just sorry that the trip is over this is one  

  • of the prettiest rides you'll ever do on a steam  railway and i've been so lucky with the weather  

  • my next stop is the small  harbour town of porthmatic

  • it sits on the gasoline estuary  leading out to cardigan bay  

  • where imposing castles stand along the  coastline the castles in wales must form  

  • one of the great collections in the world from  my travels i'd say they might be rivaled by the  

  • crusader castles built by medieval christian  knights who were determined to seize jerusalem  

  • a scholarly young man born near port  maddock showed a great interest in both  

  • sets of fortifications and viewed them withdiscerning eye he would become lawrence of arabia

  • i hope to find out about the welsh roots of  a man forever associated with the middle east  

  • from martin guthrie of the t.e lawrence society  hello martin hello michael welcome to both magic  

  • it's good to see you and good to  be here thomas edward lawrence was  

  • born nearby in the village of traumatic  in what is today holiday accommodation  

  • lawrence of arabia was born in this house in  1888 i didn't know that at all how welsh was he  

  • his parents had come over from ireland and had  lived here for a couple of years lawrence was born  

  • in this house but then they moved away to scotland  when he was only 13 months old did he consider  

  • himself welsh on the on the back of that slender  experience uh on one particular occasion he did  

  • in that it gave him uh access to jesus college  at oxford which still counts itself as the welsh  

  • college and so he used that as a means to getscholarship and in the spring before he started  

  • university lawrence's intellectual curiosity  would be sparked by welsh history he uh came  

  • on a cycling tour of welsh castles in 1907. and  he toured around the whole country from the north  

  • coast right down to the south coast visiting  about 15 castles on the way and how serious  

  • was his interest what do we know about what he  was looking at he was fascinated by anything  

  • medieval and so as he went around the castles  he was looking at not only their fortifications  

  • but also their dungeons their latrines uh he was  doing drawings of their windows and archways do  

  • we know what he did with his interest when he got  to oxford yes he joined to study modern history  

  • lawrence being the rebel that he was couldn't be  bothered to attend the lectures the university  

  • said well if you're not going to undertake the  exams you can get a degree by writing your own  

  • thesis he then spent three years studying castles  both in wales and in france and then in syria  

  • and wrote up an excellent thesis on crusader  castles overlooking the irish sea ten miles south  

  • of lawrence's birthplace harleck castle is one  of the medieval fortifications that inspired him

  • he wrote home to his parents and here's his letter  holik was very interesting yesterday the chimneys  

  • above the gatehouse were bound together incluster of four and tied together with cable  

  • molding each was round and projected some four  feet above the wall then he puts in brackets  

  • this is not for you to read it is a note  to refresh my memory how do we get from the  

  • undergraduate touring crusader castles to lawrence  of arabia well he'd spent a summer in his last  

  • year at the university walking around syria after  he graduated his tutor put him in touch with the  

  • british museum who were about to start a dig  on an archaeological site out in syria and so  

  • lawrence went out there for four years before the  first world war and during that time he immersed  

  • himself in the culture of the arab world he learnt  arabic during the great war lawrence mobilized the  

  • arabs in revolt against the ottoman empire which  was allied with germany a useful diversion as  

  • britain sought to take palestine how should we  read this story about t lawrence well there is  

  • a direct connection between the teenager who came  on a cycling tour of welsh castles and then went  

  • out to syria to be an archaeologist by the time  the first world war broke out he was in an ideal  

  • place with all the knowledge that was needed to  to join the intelligence corps of the british army

  • at port mother's main station i'm continuing  my journey in the early evening sunshine

  • it's a short trip around the  estuary to my next destination  

  • the tourist village of port marion  where i'll be spending the night

  • built into the cliffs above the wide sandy estuary  port marion has pastel wash buildings and a  

  • palm line square i feel i've been transported  from the welsh coast to a continental riviera  

  • i'm really impressed with port medium it's so  wonderfully italian i mean just look at those  

  • colors behind me that yellow and that  terracotta and that's surely not a bell  

  • tower so much as a campanile not a dome so much  as a cupola and so although i'm in wales where  

  • famously they brew the finest nails today  i'm going to celebrate with a sanjavisi

  • salute

  • i've woken in a different world  i'm in a piazza flanked by  

  • fountains and statues classical and renaissance  there are lodges and colonnades and cypress trees  

  • i've entered into a mediterranean fantasy and  i intend to allow my imagination to run wild

  • to discover the mastermind behind this fabulous  creation i'm meeting one of the villager's  

  • managers mary grace jones this is fantastic  welcome to paul mario oh thank you so much what  

  • an amazing view from here what an extraordinary  place whose fantasy whose idea was this oh this  

  • was uh all the green shot of an architecture  cliff williams ellis who had an idea to build  

  • the village to show his architecture what sold him  this site was the fact we have lots of cliff edges  

  • obviously the great view over the estuary as  well and it was a bland canvas to build on  

  • suburbs from clough williams ellis a largely  self-taught architect was born in 1883  

  • and grew up just a few miles from here his dream  was to create a resort with the atmosphere of the  

  • mediterranean whilst preserving the beauty of its  natural setting work began on port marion in 1925  

  • and it would be a lifelong project for its creator  he called the places home for fallen buildings i  

  • wish that i built his ticket down rebuilt here  but also his architectural mongrel so he was  

  • borrowing different styles from around the world  but he joined them together with italian killers  

  • and tell me about these fallen buildings  that he rescued yes well the first one  

  • is the bristol colonnade here we built in 1716  bristol it's an entrance to a bathhouse and it  

  • was partially destroyed during the bombing in the  war uh they offered it to cliff and then he took  

  • it down rebuilt it here oh my goodness and then  the hall is great when listed and the campanile  

  • the stones used for that were from the stones of  the original 12th century castle that stood up  

  • there where the white recorder is and i mean is  it just all a bit of fun or was there a serious  

  • purpose although see this purpose definitely was  propaganda for architecture he wanted to show you  

  • could have fun with it and make it interesting but  work with nature to create something quite special

  • set in 85 acres of ornate gardens the holiday  village includes two hotels and a collection of  

  • guest cottages hi martin hello martin  good morning how are you i'm michael  

  • all around the site i've seen buildings that  just look like they're out of an italian city  

  • they've just got that very distressed  look what's the cliff wanted was a clean  

  • background with darker color to make it look  weathered so what i do i just stipple over  

  • and that gives it the weather defect  and you've been at this a while then  

  • i was 16 when i started i found a job here as  an apprentice and i'm still here what a story

  • the centerpiece of clough williams ellis's  architectural folly is its central square merrick  

  • i love the piazza with this gorgeous fountain  and dominated by this grand building at the  

  • end so this is the glory yes and it's perfectly  showing some of the tricks that cliff designed so  

  • from here it looks a big building you go  up towards it you'll see how small it is  

  • was he an eccentric billionaire not at all  he was a working architect so depending on  

  • how much money he'd made through the spring and  summer he'd come back and build another cottage  

  • in the winter so that's why it took 50 years  to build the place with its stunning location  

  • and quirky design this exceptional resort  soon became a hit with the rich and famous  

  • you must have had some very distinguished  visitors over the years very much so yes  

  • well edward mr simpson frank lloyd wright came  here the famous american architect noel coward  

  • wrote to play black spirit here in fountainin may 1941. the beatles were great fans of the  

  • place especially george harrison who came back to  have his 5th birthday party with us my goodness  

  • it's such a special place i suppose it must have  been used as a film set very much so yes the  

  • most important thing i guess is the prisoner  which was filmed in 1966 and early 1967 here  

  • a spy resigns he's kidnapped he wakes up here  and he spends 17 episodes trying to escape  

  • starring patrick magoon as number six guarded by  a giant balloon called rover the surreal series  

  • explored themes of freedom and authority and will  become a cult classic fans still meet here every  

  • year to act out famous scenes including  a game of human chess white pawn 2 to c1

  • black pawn 3 to c4 white pawn 3 to c4

  • check

  • this afternoon i'm pressing south  along the coast of cardigan bay  

  • to my final destination on this leg and  the landscape is a feast for the eyes

  • the popular resort of barmouth has long played  host to holidaymakers but i'm on the trail of a  

  • most unexpected group in barmouth estuary says  bradshaw's north wales possesses a panorama of  

  • sea and mountain scenery so magnificent that  it has been declared by the world the jesuits  

  • were founded by saint ignatius loyola in 1540  in spain being scholars and missionaries they  

  • hugely influenced the development and the  global expansion of the catholic church  

  • queen elizabeth the first of england martyred  them even the pope suppressed them in 1773  

  • so i'm surprised that they flourished at the  time of my guidebook in largely methodist wales

  • north of the town overlooking the beach  is a holiday home with a difference  

  • for jesuits the largest male religious order  in the roman catholic church for its trainees  

  • it offered a break from study and a chance to  relax brother ken vance is showing me around  

  • my goodness ken you certainly have a fantastic  view here oh it's stunning isn't it isn't that  

  • absolutely amazing uh-huh so this is a jesuit  house i think of wales as a non-conformist country  

  • a methodist place what are the jesuits doing  here well michael jesuits have been coming here  

  • since elizabethan times believe it or not  we opened our seminary in 1848 just inland  

  • from real the men were training there and  they had to come on holiday at some point  

  • otherwise they go mad our house in the center  of barmouth was the jesuits first holiday  

  • home but as their numbers grew they leased  this larger property and bought it in 1930.

  • so these were men training for the priesthood  a priesthood and some brothers as well and this  

  • was their holiday place it's known as the jesuits  villa this was their break they do philosophy or  

  • theology and to quite a high standard so they'd  need space to get away from it all was there a  

  • big emphasis on sporting activity oh yes very much  so we used to erect a large marquee on the beach  

  • and they'd march down with their colors on  and come out with the swimming trunks on  

  • there was always a cricket match in dull gatling  up the road and the guys would put a scarf around  

  • their necks not to intimidate the opposition  along with their long missionary tradition  

  • jesuits earned a reputation as the educators  and intellectuals of the church we have hall  

  • of residence in oxford campion hall quite  a famous number of jesuits uh came here who  

  • quite high up in the world of philosophy and  theology anyone that i a layman might have  

  • heard of well the most famous person to stay here  is gerrymandering hopkins the poet and hopkins  

  • uh studied as somebody knows in  north wales and came here on holiday  

  • one of the great victorian poets gerard manly  hopkins converted to catholicism and was ordained  

  • a jesuit priest in 1877. the men used to hireboat and go up the mouth estuary to the george inn  

  • and when hopkins got there one year  he wrote a poem in the guest book  

  • pen mine pool any anthology of hopkins  poem you'll find penn mine pool in that