English Journey

Southampton to Newcastle, Newcastle to Norwich: memories rose like milk coming to the boil. I had seen England. I had seen a lot of Englands. How many?

George Shaw's Scenes from The Passion: The Cop Shop, 1999-2000, Tile Hill Estate, Coventry, CV4

At once, three disengaged themselves from the shifting mass. There was first, Old England, the country of the cathedrals and minsters and manor houses and inns, of parson and Squire; guide-book and quaint highways and byways England…

Colchester Organ Society, Colchester, Essex, CO1

Then, I decided, there is the nineteenth-century England, the industrial England of coal, iron, steel, cotton, wool, railways; of thousands of rows of little houses all alike, sham Gothic churches, square-faced chapels, Town Halls, Mechanics’ Institutes, mills, foundries, warehouses, refined watering-places, Pier Pavilions, Family and Commercial Hotels…

Alan Howard's Black History Mural, London Road, Reading, Berkshire, RG1

…Literary and Philosophical Societies, back-to-back houses, detached villas with monkey-trees, Grill Rooms, railway stations, slag-heaps and ‘tips’, dock roads, Refreshment Rooms, doss-houses, Unionist or Liberal Clubs…

Narbi Price's Untitled See-Saw Painting, Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, L3

…cindery waste ground, mill chimneys, slums, fried-fish shops, public-houses with red blinds, bethels in corrugated iron, good-class draper’s and confectioners’ shops, a cynically devastated countryside, sooty dismal little towns, and still sootier grim fortress-like cities.

Folkestone, Kent, CT20

This England makes up the larger part of the Midlands and the North and exists everywhere; but it is not been added to and has no new life poured into it…

Eduardo Palozzi's An Empire of Silly Statistics . . . A Fake War for Public Relations, New Art Gallery, Walsall, West Midlands, WS2

The third England, I concluded, was the new post-war England, belonging far more to the age itself than to this particular island. America, I supposed, was its real birthplace.

Fairport Convention's Unhalfbricking (1969)

This is the England of arterial and by-pass roads, of filling stations and factories that look like exhibition buildings, of giant cinemas and dance-halls and cafes, bungalows with tiny garages, cocktail bars, Woolworths, motor-coaches, wireless, hiking, factory girls looking like actresses, greyhound racing and dirt tracks, swimming pools, and everything given away for cigarette coupons.

Teignmouth, Devon, TQ14

From JB Priestley’s English Journey (1934)

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