- a thematic guide to Great Britain
no city in Britain comes near London in terms of tourism potential,
several of the biggest cities in England, in particular Liverpool and
Bristol, are places that are well worth a visit
the exception of London
and the Scottish capital Edinburgh ), the
largest UK cities are not internationally famous tourist
cities with a great and old historic heritage. In the main they are
cities which began their ascendancy at the start of the industrial age
in the late 18th century; and their development during the nineteenth
century was so intense that they changed beyond recognition.
The English cities of Birmingham,
Manchester, Liverpool, Sheffield , Leeds, Bradford
, like Glagow
city in Scotland
the capital of Wales, were only small towns before the Industrial
Revolution came along. The Industrial Revolution turned them
into big cities, local centres of industry with their coal mines ,
factories, textile mills , blast furnaces , banks, shipyards and ports
... These are the cities that were behind the industrial power of the
United Kingdom in the Victorian era and until the middle of the
twentieth century. Then, with the massive changes that affected British
society, from 1970 onwards they faced serious problems of
deindustrialization, loss of population, unemployment, and decline.
However, since the dark years
of the nineteen-seventies, all these cities have begun a process of
urban regeneration, and all of Britain's great cities now like to
portray themselves as great tourist destinations.
with a population of around half a million, was the English city that
suffered most during the crisis of deindustrialization; but it has also
perhaps had the most successful regeneration. Today, with its dock area
classed as a UNESCO world heritage site, and more museums than any
English city outside London, it is the big English city that attracts
the greatest number of tourists.
Even when it was at
its lowest, this port city on the estuary of the Mersey, in northwest
England, was already a tourist mecca, drawing in visitors from around
the world... twentieth century pilgrims journeying to the home city of
their idols, the Beatles. And still today 50 years after the Beatles
played in the Cavern
(now rebuilt as a tourist attraction),
Liverpool still attracts thousands of tourists coming to visit the city
where the world's greatest pop group lived and played. The story of the
Beatles is brought to life in the "Beatles Story" attraction, in the
Albert Dock area; and Beatles "Magical Mystery Tours" of Liverpool
start from the Albert Dock.
Liverpool was once the largest port in the United Kingdom after London,
the gateway to the world of the industrial north of England , through
which imports and exports of textiles and manufactured goods passed,
and from which millions of emigrants from Britain, Ireland and Europe,
set sail in search of a new life in North America or the colonies.
That time has passed , and
now Liverpool - on
the wrong side of England for trade with Europe - has lost most of its
importance as a seaport. Yet the closure of most of the old docks
turned out to
be a fantastic opportunity for Liverpool, and the most famous part of
the old port area - the Albert Dock - is now a major tourist hub, and
classed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO .
The dock area offers visitors a choice
of museums, the Tate
gallery, the Liverpool
the Museum of Slavery
and the Beatles Story
– as well as
historic ships , and malls .
If we add to this Liverpool's top quality Walker
galleries in Britain
) , its two very different
Population about 500,000 . The former industrial capital of the north
has been reinvented as a business city and the capital of contemporary
culture. Manchester clubs and music are known worldwide. The old port
area has also been redeveloped as a cultural and commercial area , very
close to the most famous football stadium in England, Old Trafford,
home the Manchester United FC. Inland from Manchester, the valleys of
the Pennines offer a remarkable concentration of historical sites from
the time of the Industrial Revolution.
Manchester also is home to an impressive
number of museums and art galleries.
has a rich collection of paintings
from 16th to the 20th century, in particular the great masters of
art up to David Hockney – not forgetting the unique artist of
industrial life in the North of England, L.S.Lowry. Many more
works by Lowry are on show at the Lowry
, a new museum/ arts centre opened in
2000 at Salford Quays, in the Machester docklands area. Manchester
also has a valuable collection, including a large representative sample
of English art of the 19th and 20th centuries, plus European art from
the French Impressionists to the modernists.
Aside from the arts, Manchester also has an impressive
collection of themed museums. Most popular among these is the National Football Museum
opened in 2012, and located in the city centre; this is reputedly the
world's finest football museum. Not far away is the People's History Museum
previously known as the National
Museum of Labour History
which was completely refurbished and extended in 2007, and is a museum
of the working class life, suitably located in what was the industrial
capital of Britain. Finally, Manchester is home to the Imperial War Museum
of the North, and the Manchester
Museum of Science of Industry
, or MOSI.
At the heart of an urban area of about one million people, Birmingham
is England 's second largest city by population . The "city of a
thousand trades " , two hours drive north-west of London, has
reinvented itself twice, firstly as Britain's "motor city", now as its
second largest shopping centre .
The centre of Birmingham , called the Bullring
has been completely redeveloped twice in 50 years, the first time in 60
years as a commercial center in the brutalist architecture of the day,
designed for car access; then again in the early 2000s, to make a more
user-friendly shopping center, which surprises with its architecture
and its large pedestrian areas .
Nearby there is the Birmingham National Exhibition Centre,
Britain's premier venue for national and international trade fairs and
The rich and glorious past of the city ,
especially during the 19th century is reflected in what remains of its
Victorian monumental architecture, and art gallery
, one of
and richest in the country, with a remarkable collection of English
19th century art. The "Cradle of the Industrial Revolution", the
Birmingham area has two major open-air
, one at Dudley, the other at Ironbridge Gorge. Stratford on
, birthplace of William Shakespeare, is a short
distance from Birmingham, as is the historic town of
with its magnificent medieval castle. Sulgrave Manor,
ancestral home of George Washington's family, lies 50 miles southeast
Bristol : on board the historic ship SS Great Britain.
Before the industrial age, Bristol was England's second city, after
London. It was England's great port, trading with Africa and
the Americas from the 16th century onwards. In the nineteenth century,
although Bristol remained an important port, it did not grow
cities of the industrial north of England.
Today, while it is the second largest city in the
south of England, Bristol seems to be on a smaller scale than the
cities of the north. Bristol's docks closed in the 1970s, and since
then the docklands have been redeveloped as an attractive tourist and
residential area, which is relatively concentrated and largely
traffic-free. A number of tourist attractions can be reached on foot,
or by taking the small ferries or water taxis that ply back and forth
along the "floating harbour" - so called because this whole dock area
is behind locks that ensured, in the past, that ships remained afloat
even at low tide.
Among the attractions are the Bristol Museum
Shed), the Bristol Aquarium
the Bristol Science Centre (@
and most importantly the SS
, the world's first iron ship,
designed by Brunel, and now painstakingly restored and preserved in the
dry dock in which she was originally built.
Bristol also has other attractions including a
reputed zoo, Bristol
Museum and Art Gallery
, the Arnolfini arts centre, and the
regency quarter of Clifton, with its Avon Gorge
suspension bridge, also designed by Brunel.
BRADFORD, SHEFFIELD, NEWCASTLE
These four major cities of northern England are primarily regional
centres offering the services and attractions of the big city -
theatres, museums, clubs , restaurants. Bradford, formerly
the capital of the textile industry , now hosts the award-winning
(photography, TV, movies), with
giant IMAX screen . Entrance to the museum is free .
The Leeds- Bradford- Halifax Area was once the workshop of the world's
textile industry. Most of the large "mills" have closed, but the region
still has textile mills in operation, as well as several very
interesting industrial heritage sites , including the Bradford
Industrial museum, and the ideal industrial town of Saltaire
by the mill owner and philanthropist Titus Salt, and now a
UNESCO World Heritage site.
For Glasgow and Edinburgh
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