Grandma’s Grand Tour Part 4: London, Torquay, and Touring


Days 12 through 18 of my grandmother’s 1936 trip to Europe, covering time spent traveling in and around London and Torquay.  (Previously: Introduction, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.)

Sunday, July 5 [1936]

We started out about 10 this morning to see the changing of the guards but realized it was too late for this so went to services at Westminster Abbey instead.  From here we walked back to the hotel, passing the houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace and the business center of London.  It was very confusing to us to see traffic completely reversed from the way it is at home, that is all cars going down the left side of the street.  The “Bobbies” are very impressive looking persons with their high hats and chin straps & their high white cuffs which aid them in directing traffic.  There are 300 different bus routes here in London.  It costs .04 fare to ride on them.  For dinner this noon we went to “Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese” which is a most interesting old place on Fleet Street.  You enter it by going down a long passageway into a little open court.  The first floor is divided into 3 parts, the front a bar than a small restaurant & to the side of this a little “light lunch” room.  The place was last rebuilt in 1600, has a wood floor covered with sawdust & old tables.  The walls are wood paneled.  The drinking mugs of famous people are left in a case here & the favorite seats of such people as Sam Johnson & Charles Dickens are marked with plaques.  The food was very good.  From here we asked our way to the Westminster Bridge where we took a boat up the Thames to Kew Gardens.  A trip of about 1 1/2 hrs.  This was a very lovely place, beautifully landscaped with gorgeous flowers & many different types of trees and shrubs.  Late in the afternoon we had tea in the Gardens of a little tea shop.  They served us strawberries with luscious thick cream and tea, cookies & little finger sandwiches.  We left for home about 7:30 and arriving here about 9 and spent the rest of the evening packing for our trip tomorrow.

I’m not actually sure what a “.04 fare” means, as this was prior to the decimalization of British currency.  If anyone has a clear idea of what my grandmother might have meant by that, please comment.

The Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese pub is still there, still on Fleet Street.  Doris rather flagrantly misspelled this one, it took me a while to figure out what she was talking about.

The Kew Gardens are, today, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Monday, July 6th [1936]

We were up quite early this morning as we were told the train was leaving at nine & then later on we were told that it wasn’t to leave till noon; so we spent most of the morning at Eastman Kodak store where we took some films to be developed.  Our train left at noon for Torquay where Mr. Glasyer our guide for the week met us.  We arrived about 3:45 in the afternoon & spent the rest of the day just resting up.

I don’t know if there were other options for getting film developed besides the Eastman Kodak store, but even if there were Doris would certainly not have used them, as her family had a strong connection to the company, I think through Eastman.

Following this entry there are several days where, instead of writing a journal, she pasted in the itinerary of the trips she took from Torquay.



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  1. I think she meant 4 cents in our money. And yes, George Eastman was the connection.

  2. Michael Fischer

    October 6, 2009 — 7:59 pm

    The “.04” bus fare is certainly in U.S. currency. It is inconceivable that Doris would have referred to pre-decimal British currency in this way — she had previously commented on her difficulty in understanding pounds, shillings & pence. The fare was probably 2p (2 British pence). Doris was probably able to remember was that 1p was roughly equal to $0.02. In 1936 the exchange rate was £1 = $4.97, so 1p (1/240 of a pound) was just over $0.02. This fare also seems reasonable when compared with the contemporary fare in New York, which in 1936 was $0.05.

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