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Alan Machin's Blog: January 2009

[All portraits shown on this page are believed to be in the public domain]

Image: Blog header January 09

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The Story So Far is about discovering the world - by ordinary people
interested in understanding more about its past, present and future

Image: Whitby Abbey interpretation

Talking To Visitors: Whitby Abbey

31.01.09

Whitby Abbey is associated not only with the history of Christianity but also the origins of the story of Dracula, the life of fishermen over the centuries and the early life of Captain James Cook, the explorer. It stands high above the east cliffs at the top of a long, long flight of steps climbed by thousands of tourists and people From the nearby community. So it has many stories to tell.

English Heritage Care for the site and organise the interpretation of these stories through a visitor centre and guide books, and also an up-to-the-minute personal digital player. Carried by the visitor who holds an earpiece close to his or her head, the unit replays recorded words and sound effects chosen by the user according to at which point they are standing. Rechargeable batteries and no moving parts mean much more reliable units than the simple cassette players available in the late 1970s. The capital cost might be high, but it’s relatively easy to revise messages. The human voice has e strong resonance for the listener. In addition, different languages and messages suitable for different ages can be added quite easily.
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Image: Exploring Boston and its Region

Travel To Understand - Cities

30.01.09

It's noticeable that the pioneers of outdoor education discussed below turned to the countryside and the wilderness as the places of educational value. The explorers recorded by Richard Hakluyt would have had few cities to discover in their sailing the world's oceans. Cities were not what they were looking for, anyway - they wanted to find tracts of country that could be easily commandeered and colonised. The later pioneers were usually advocating escaping from the city, all too often seen as cess pits of social problems and ill health.

Tourism at first targeted the cities for its destinations, as Grand Tourists went to Paris and Rome. Many rich city dwellers would head for smaller urban areas, the spas like Bath, Bad Harzburg or Karlovy Vary. Coastal resorts - Trouville, Brighton, Monaco for example - grew with the railways. These were the destinations for several days or, with railway access, long single days. Yet for many people an excursion out of the town and city into quite close-by countryside was all that they had available in the nineteenth century, making the trip by horse-drawn wagonette or local timetabled train. Under the influence of religious leaders, who saw in the countryside something of the clean paradise of the Garden of Eden, whole congregations and Sunday Schools would troop out into open fields and hills. The 'leaders into the field' described on these pages were either part of this culture or connected with it.

Metropolitan areas always attracted travellers and tourists, Grand or not so Grand. There was business to be done as well as leisure to be enjoyed. So, too, did the old cathedral and abbey towns and the university centres such as York, Oxford, Heidelburg and Uppsala. Thomas Cook organised hundreds of trips to cities, and not only London but more unusual ones - Liverpool has been mentioned in the posting below, for instance.

There is an interesting mix of attraction and promotion in cities today. Prestige must be maintained. Trade must be promoted. New sources of income must be found to replace that of declining industries. Alongside the older museums and art galleries, sports and arts venues and shopping streets there has been a strong growth in educational and cultural attractions. Urban renewal schemes have often been given some kind of prestigious flagship to give them a boost: the Cite des Science in Paris as part of the redevelopment of the Parc de la Villette complex is a good example. Or in Barcelona the redeveloped docks area with a large sealife aquarium.

Boston is a good illustration of the kind of range of interest which draws the modern urban explorer. It has the older Art Museum and it has the newer Science Museum. Faneuil Hall is an important historic landmark - with shops - as part of the Quincey Market regeneration project. Within that development are many shops, restaurants and bars which reflect Amercian, and especially Bostonian, cultural norms - the 'Cheers' bar is a representation of the popular TV series setting (and a distance away from the famous exterior which was shown in the series). Around Boston are other places for the explorer of cities and their urban margins - Saugus Ironworks noth of the city and - further out to the south - places like Plymouth Harbour with its replica of the Mayflower ship of 1620. Urban regions have never been as popular and rewarding as they are now. I wonder what Rousseau and Ernest Thompson Seton would have made of them?
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Image: The Coming of the Guide Book

The Coming of the Guide Book

29.01.09 [first posted June '07]

Early travellers who were not 'on business' - government, military or trading - were mainly pilgrims. Within the Christian world there are records of pilgrims going to Jerusalem late in the fourth century AD at least. They were shown places with biblical associations and some returned with souvenirs such as stones from the hill at Calvary.

Early in the seventh century pilgrims going to Rome were able to buy basic guides - simple block prints showing the route around the main churches. Not until printing with movable type was established in Europe in the late fifteenth century - Gutenberg began commercial work around 1450 in Mainz; Caxton set up in Westminster, London in 1476 - was guide book production feasible, but the market was small, especially as there was only a poor distribution infrastructure. Travellers' guides would only appear much later. In addition, maps and pictures would be very crude compared with what a traveller needed to be useful. It is noteworthy that it was only in 1570, during Europe's great effort to discover other continents, that the first Atlas appeared. Published by Abraham Ortelius and printed by
Christopher Plantin, it contained 53 copperplate maps. Atlases in the early days were productions for wealthy people to have on show in their private libraries, large works of art rather than something to slip into the pocket or even cabin trunk.

In 1699 Joseph Addison set out from England to tour Europe and gather material for a guidebook on its various countries based on the writings of Horace and Virgil. He must have been one of the very first travel writers.

The first English guide book aimed at describing routes to take and what there was to be seen came in 1817-18. It consisted of a two-volume "Tour of Picturesque Rides and Walks with Excursions by Water Thirty Miles Around the Metropolis" and was written and published by John Hassall.

A number of factors came together to create a rapid growth of guide book publishing in the early nineteenth century, which also established some of the key firms in the trade. It was becoming easier to travel - more could afford to do so, the roads were being improved and railways spread after about 1830. The relatively rich had time to travel for leisure and exploring places became a fashion in the wake of the Grand Tour. Steam power, cylinder-printing and typesetting machines were equipping the printing trade far better than before so that large runs of book production were possible, potentially reducing unit costs. Finally, the new railways provided a fast distribution system, not only to bookshops around the country but direct to the rail traveller through station bookshops such as those of W H Smith, whose pioneering news stand was opened on Euston Station in 1848. Passengers wanted something to read, and some wanted books that satisfied their curiosity about the places they saw out of the carriage window.

The great pioneer in guide book publishing was Karl Baedeker, whose books were highly researched and packed with detail, including fine maps on thin, fold-out sheets of paper. In 1829 his first such book was a guide to the town where his press was situated: Koblenz. Britain's main published was John Murray. He produced his first Handbook for Travellers on the Continent in 1836. Murray joined with Karl Baedeker to publish the first Baedeker guide in English, in 1861. It was a book about travelling along the Rhine. France had its great published of detailed guides, too. In the early 1850s Louis Hachette added travel books to his wide range of general publishing. Detail and accuracy were again their hallmark, and later the Hachette company would also enter into joint production with British publishers, this time Muirheads, in 1918 - Muirheads had bought the John Murray imprint earlier.

One other important date: in 1857 the first English book illustratated with photolithographs from nature was published. It was John Pouncey's 'Dorsetshire'.
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Image: Ernest Thompson Seton

Leaders Into The Field: Ernest Thompson Seton

28.01.09

Ernest Thompson Seton (1860-1946) was a highly influential figure in the growth of what we now know as Scouting. Although there is some controversy over the matter, it is clear that Seton's ideas helped to shape those of Lord Robert Baden-Powell about how to deal with the wild areas of the world and the animals, plants and trees within it.

Seton was born in South Shields, England, but emigrated with his family at the age of 6 to Canada. It is said that he spent time in the woods near his home playing and sketching in order to avoid his abusive father. His knowledge of animals and their habitats grew and Seton became a skilled naturalist, a writer and artist. He moved to New York City and then Greenwich,Connecticut, where over one weekend he dealt with some local vandals by inviting them to the land he owned and telling them stories about North American native peoples. In 1902 he formed a youth group, 'Woodcraft Indians' for local boys. The stories he told became articles in a magazine, the Ladies' Home Journal, and later they were assembled in his book 'The Birch Bark Roll of the Woodcraft Indians'. This appeared in 1906, coincidentally the year before Baden-Powell's famous camp held on Brownsea Island in Dorset, which was followed by his book 'Scouting for Boys' the next year. Daniel Beard, the subject of the previous posting on this page, had already published several books developing the theme of self-reliance and adventure in the outdoors of America - two of these came out in the same year, 1906, one of them being the 'Field and Forest Handy Book'.

Baden-Powell read a copy of 'The Birch Bark Roll' in the year of its publication, was taken by the ideas and met Ernest Thompson Seton to discuss them. When Scouting became established over the next few years in Britain, Seton and Beard joined in by merging their organisations with it. Seton became the first Chief Scout of the Boy Scouts of America, and Beard one of the first commissioners.

In the foreword to one of his books published in 1921 Seton wrote the following about the idea of Woodcraft that he had been advocating for some twenty years:

"By Woodcraft I mean outdoor life in its broadest sense and the plan has ever been with me since boyhood. Woodcraft is the first of all the sciences. It was Woodcraft that made man out of brutish material, and Woodcraft in its highest form may save him from decay".
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Image: Daniel Carter Beard

Leaders Into The Field: Daniel Carter Beard

27.01.09

Daniel Carter Beard (1850-1941) was one of three men in the USA and the UK, who shared very similar decades and who created organisations for boys aimed at getting them out into the countryside in order to learn about life and to develop their characters. Ultimately two of them, Beard and Ernest Thompson Seton, would channel their own organisations into merging with those of the third man, Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of the Scouting movement.

Beard was also known as 'Uncle Dan', a reference to his skill at storytelling and inspiring boys to take up life in the open air. He was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, living in Covington, Kentucky, across the river from his birthplace during his childhood. There he could explore the valley of the Licking River as it flowed into the Ohio, and he learned stories of the pioneers who settled the area. Beard became an engineer and learnt to survey, then he attended art school in New York City. Soon he was to take up writing as well, producing articles for popular family magazines. As a competent illustrator he drew for books written by Mark Twain. Then he became an editor, of 'Recreation' magazine for which he penned a monthly article aimed at youth.

His interest in, and enthusiasm for, frontier traditions led to his founding the Sons of Daniel Boone in 1905. By this time he had met Ernest Thompson Seton who was working along similar lines, as the next posting will show. Beard's column moved twice to different magazines, and because an arrangement with one of them had meant he did not have the rights to the name 'Sons of Daniel Boone' Beard renamed his organisation the Boy Pioneers of America.

Daniel Carter Beard me Lord Robert Baden-Powellsoon after the latter founded his Boy Scouts movement, and in 1910 Beard merged his group into a new Boy Scouts of America which was formed. He became one of the first National Scout Commissioners and served the Boy Scouts for thirty years.

Beard wrote and illustrated many books, among which were The American Boy's Book of Camp-Lore and Woodcraft (1920) which is still in print, and Wisdom of the Woods (1926) and Buckskin Book for Men and Boys (1929). The titles give a taste of the particular American frontier idiom of pioneering self-reliance. While they were in keeping with the style of the times and aimed at the males in the population, Beard was also supportive of moves (by his sister, for example) to open up some part of this culture to girls. He died in 1941, as did Baden-Powell, and only five years before Ernest Thompson Seton.

My photograph above is of his statue which stands outside his former home in Covington.
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Image: Outdoor teaching

Leaders Into The Field: Pioneers Of Outdoor Education

26.01.09 [originally posted in March '07]

Under the inspiration of many writers and innovators, the later nineteenth and early twentieth centuries saw ideas develop to take teaching and learning into the world outside the school and home. Some, like the Boy Scouts movement, were aimed at building the individual psychologically and socially. Others were related to academic subjects or a mix of the two ideas. Some important examples are shown here.

Dr Cecil Reddie founded Abbotsholme School in Staffordshire as a place to develop both the minds and bodies of its pupils in pleasant surroundings. Working within a community was important. Reddie had been influenced by Rousseau and John Ruskin and he admired the German secondary schools which emphasised involvement in the outside world. Even so, in an example of a long period of idea-swapping between the United Kingdom and Germany, he in turn inspired one of his teachers, Hermann Leitz, to return home to set up a similar school at Ilsenberg in 1899. Others followed in Germany as Leitz built up his activities.

Robert Baden-Powell counted British and American influences amongst his antecedents when he ran his famous camp for boys from contrasting communities in 1907. Out of that event on Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour, Dorset, came the Boy Scout and Guide Guides, Cubs and Brownies movements which were not outdoor classroom activities but educationally-aimed nonetheless.

Just after the First World War a German educator, Kurt Hahn, was employed as Secretary to the last Chancellor of Imperial Germany, Prince Max von Baden. In 1920 Hahn set up Salem School which also had aims of developing character and self-discipline. Hahn stood against the rise of Nazi control during the early 1930s and in 1932 was forced out, having written to his pupils to say they had to choose between the school's principles and those of the Nazi party. Kurt Hahn fled to England. Two years after leaving Salem he founded Gordonstoun in Scotland. The new school had its own strong blend of personal and social development set in the Highlands communities close to Inverness. The present Prince of Wales would become its most famous (though apparently reluctant) alumnus.

Hahn was to have another achievement in Britain. As the Second world War broke out, Gordonstoun moved to Plas Dinan in North Wales. Sharing a similar concern that had motivated Baden-Powell much earlier, Hahn and Lawrence Holt of the Blue Funnel shipping line began another school, at Aberdovey. This would attempt to improve the mental and physical qualities of boys entering the merchant navy. It was the first centre of the Outward Bound movement. As such it would expand into a series of centres and be used by many organisations anxious to train employees to be self-reliant and successful by using demanding physical and team-building techniques. There is a strong element here that also led towards much more informal adventure holidays, notably through companies like PGL after the war.

The last example of outdoor education shown above is the Field Studies Council which began life in 1947. It has already been the subject of a separate posting. The Council grew out of the observation of the difference between London children and their new neighbours when they were evacuated early in the war to Cambridgeshire. However, its work was not primarily aimed at individuals and human communities but at knowledge about the natural environment. Many field centres were opened and helped in the academic education of thousands of pupils and students.
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Leaders Into The Field: Frederick Gunn

25.01.09 [originally posted December '06]

In nineteenth century Britain there was nowhere really that was unknown to people. The exploration mode was already moving towards that of ordinary individuals setting out for themselves to see what others had already discovered. Thomas de Quincey camped for nine nights in a tent he had made himself in order to walk from Manchester to North Wales in 1802. John Wilson used a tent on a walking tour in 1815.

In North America, on the other hand, in the great plains and northern wastes of Canada and the western USA there was much still be be seen, at least by settlers of European origin if not for native Americans. They knew their country and they lived with it intimately in a relationship that would not be known or understood by the white man for many decades to come.

The European settlers were moving north towards the Arctic Circle and west towards the Pacific, besides progressing further up the Pacific coast from Mexico and along the sea routes. Driven by reports of adventure and wonders to be seen, even the longer-established communities of the Atlantic coast harboured aspirations of exploration and desires to meet the challenges of the open spaces.

When the United States Civil War broke out in 1861 the news was greeted with an upswelling of patriotic feeling on both sides. As the years went by and the dreadfulness of the war machine ground onwards these feelings became less intense. At the start, however, the boys of a school in Connecticut were keen to march and camp just like the soldiers. Frederick William Gunn and his wife ran what they called the Gunnery School in Washington in that state. They seized the chance to introduce activities that would develop the boys physically and morally. In August of 1861 they took the whole school on a two-day, 40-mile trip to Welch's Point on Long Island Sound. A horse-drawn wagon carried tents and two donkeys were on hand for younger children less able to walk the whole way. On arrival they swam and fished and at night stories were told and songs enjoyed by the light of camp fires. Accounts of the expedition suggest that the Gunns probably held discussions about the causes of the war and the likely outcomes for the country. Similar events were held in 1863 and 1865 and then camps were switched to a site on Lake Waramaug seven miles from the school. Academic subjects were introduced at Lake Waramaug. The camps were finally discontinued in the 1870s, but for some years afterwards, alumni from the school held reunion holidays at the spot. The Gunnery School still thrives, and each year a commemorative hike is made to the Steep Rock Reservation near to Washington, Connecticut.

Frederick Gunn is considered to be the originator of leisure camping in America. Other people developed their own camps of different kinds during the century. One of these was founded by Ernest Balch and some friends on Burnt Island, Squam Lake in New Hampshire. Called Camp Chocorua, it did not have a ready-assembled group of users of the sort the Gunnery School had, but it attracted boys whose parents spent their own holidays in resorts which Balch considered socially less desirable for children. Again, the aim was to develop healthy activities in a well-ordered community. Camp Chocorua lasted only eight years but had a long-lasting influence on many other pioneers of education in the open air, and it and the Gunnery camps sparked off what would become a very active part of the American tourist industry.


Eells, E (1986) Eleanor Eell's History of Organised Camping: The First Hundred Years, Martinsville, Indiana
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Image: W G Stables' book

Leaders Into The Field: William Gordon Stables

24.01.09

Dr William Gordon Stables (1840-1910) has been described as “having invented pleasure-time caravanning” (see Jenkinson, 2003). This is owed to two accomplishments by Dr Stables in the 1880s. First, he had built for himself a wooden caravan called ‘The Wanderer’ which was styled after traditional roma (‘gypsy’) caravans. He then toured England in the caravan, which was pulled by two horses and staffed – yes, staffed – by a coachman, John, and a valet, Alfred. There was also a parrot and a dog. Oh, and a bicycle. Dr Stables supervised the activities, wrote up a log of his journeys and generally enjoyed leisurely life. The coachman looked after the horses, sleeping at inns where he could keep an eye on the horses. Alfred erected a washroom tent, cooked the meals and cleaned the caravan. Dr Stables, ate, rode his bike and wrote his account of the trip.

The second accomplishment of the doctor was to write books about travelling. The main one described “The Cruise of the Land Yacht Wanderer: or 1,300 Miles in My Caravan” and was published in 1886. Dr Gordon Stables was a qualified doctor and had been a Royal Navy surgeon between 1863 and 1871. Even more than that, for thirty years up to his death he wrote adventure books for boys at the rate of about one every three months. These were imperial-era tales of derring-do and by including caravan journeys as ‘land-cruise’ adventures Stables was raising the slow progress of horse-drawn vehicles into a realm of excitement which must have drawn many youngsters to commercially-produced caravans as soon as they appeared. In later postings we will see how later writers in Britain and the United States did the same for other forms of transport – motor cars, bicycles, canal boats and sailing boats, for example.
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Above: one of Gordon Stables' caravanning books.

Jenkinson, A (2003) Caravans: The Illustrated History – 1919-1959 paperback ed (orig ed 1979), Dorchester, Veloce Publishing

Wilson, Nerissa (1986) Gypsies and Gentlemen, London, Columbus Books Ltd [detailed account inc photos and working drawing of ‘The Wanderer’, Dr Stables et al.
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Image: Chronology - Geographical Societies

Geographical Societies

23.01.09

John Bartholomew's role in the Royal Scottish Geographical Society points to the growth of these public bodies in the mid-nineteenth century. The first of these was the society formed in Paris in 1821 after which others followed in several continents. The Royal Geographical Society in London was formed in 1830. By 1885 it has been estimated that almost a hundred existed round the globe with over 50,000 members.

Geographical societies at the time were interested in exploration of places unknown to the people in the societies. The great age of exploration of the 1900s was in full swing. These organisations must also have been nationalistic - as most of groupings at the time - and that turned their attention to imperial power and economic gain, rather than any questions of theories and local studies. Later, the idea of such societies spread to schools so that a continuous strand of world exploration through talks and, in due course, travel films, was fostered with a powerful influence on public knowledge. School holidays and expeditions abroad reinforced the interest; package holidays for the family added to it post- world war II. Schools' use of outdoor adventure training from the 1950s onwards (in Britain) continued in the same strand - though that was also encouraged by activities like scouts and guiding and Outward Bound.

See Freeman, T W (1961) A Hundred Years of Geography, London, Duckworth, for details of societies.
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Image: John Bartholomew

Leaders Into The Field: John George Bartholomew

22.01.09

John Bartholomew (1860-1920) was the third of four men of that name, his grandfather, father and son all being known that way. His grandfather founded a map-making business in Edinburgh that would become famous and still exists. His father continued the work, he did himself – with even greater success – and his son did, too.

This John Bartholomew introduced street maps of large cities, maps for the railway timetables and maps for car owners. He introduced special ways of helping users to see the shape of hills and mountains by adding coloured contour-layers to the map. There were specialist atlases, too – for meteorology and zoogeography. The first Times Atlas of the World was his work, though first published posthumously, in conjunction with the newspaper. It still continues.

His importance lies not only in this work, however, but also in his related interests and activities. He began to work for his father’s business in 1880 and four years later was the co-founder of the Scottish Geographical Society, becoming its secretary, a post he held until his death. 1888 saw him elected to the Royal Geographical Society in London; four years after that he became secretary of one of the sections of the British Association for the Advancement of Science. King George V appointed him Cartographer Royal in 1910.

While the Ordnance Survey remained the national surveyor during his lifetime, it was Bartholomew who used the marketing of maps in such a way as to popularise their use and encourage travelling, before the OS itself put effort into making its own maps more readily available by selling them through bookshops in attractive covers that appealed to the walker, cyclist and car owner.
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Image: John Muir

Leaders Into The Field: John Muir

21.01.09

John Muir (1838-1914) was one of the most important naturalists in the USA during the nineteenth century. His influence is still great through the Sierra Club which he founded and the books that he wrote. His love of the natural world and his efforts at arousing knowledge and concern for it have made him a key figure in education as well as travel. The modern environmental movement, which is usually seen as a product of the 1960s, has to acknowledge him as one of its forerunners.

Muir was Scottish by birth and from a large family which moved to Wisconsin in 1849. Inspired by a fellow student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who talked about the relationship of wild flowers to garden vegetables, John Muir became a self-confessed enthusiast for the natural world. He withdrew from his course after several years of part-time study and walked from Indiana to Florida. His plan had been to go on to South America but illness forced him to abandon the idea and he turned to California instead. Once there Muir took himself to the Yosemite Valley, a place which overawed him. “No temple made with hands can compare with Yosemite, the grandest of all special temples of nature”, he later wrote.

After a number of jobs John Muir became a shepherd in the Yosemite area, taking up climbing and hiking to explore the wilderness. He moved to become the manager of a sawmill, building a cabin on Yosemite Creek. It was during these early days that he began to develop ideas of how this landscape had been formed – in his view, glaciers has sculpted many of the features. It was an opinion which clashed with that of Josiah Whitney, head of the California Geological Survey, who, like many geologists of his day thought that a catastrophic earthquake had formed the Yosemite scenery as it now appeared. Over time it was Muir’s interpretation that gained acceptance and his ideas were published int the first of many writings in papers and books.

Having married into a family owning a large ranch in Martinez, the shepherd turned mill manager now became the manager of orchards and vineyards on the ranch. His travels, explorations and writing increased with several books to his credit which have since been read by millions of people. Prominent Americans like Ralph Waldo Emerson, railroad president E H Harriman and President Theodore Roosevelt travelled to meet him and spending time walking in the mountains or travelling by ship along the north-west coast. Through such meetings he was able to convince national figures of the need for federal control of the Yosemite wilderness areas through the system of national parks. The Sierra Club, which now has millions of members, was founded by John Muir to campaign for conservation and education in matters to do with the environment. His books, like ‘The Mountains Of California’ and ‘My First Summer In The Sierra’ stand alongside the Sierra Club and the creation of Yosemite as a national park as memorials to a remarkable pioneer.
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Image: Thomas Cook

Leaders Into The Field: Thomas Cook

20.01.09

Thomas Cook (1808-92) is today considered to be the founder of one of the world's most successful travel agencies. And so he was. But that was not what he set out to do, and it in a way places him in too modern a context when he was a really part of the religious fervour of the early nineteenth century. Britain was fast becoming industrialised; factories, railways and cities were changing the landscape. Damaging social conditions had been created through overcrowded housing, pollution and harsh industrial conditions. Poverty, crime and drunkeness were often the result.

Cook was a cabinet maker. He published Baptist leaflets and in 1828 became a Baptist minister in Melbourne, Derbyshire. As one of a movement who campaigned for temperence in drinking habits - usually by giving up alcohol entirely - he preached against the evils that resulted and published leaflets to support the efforts of his fellow campaigners.

The flash of inspiration which was to change his life came while travelling by road in Leicestershire, but thinking about the railways which were being built around the country. Cook was a preacher, a publisher and a propagandist. His aim is life was evangelical - to unite man with man, and man with God. He and others believed the way to God lay along a path of good human behaviour, and that meant among other things giving up the alcohol, the cause of drunkeness, violence and other antisocial problems. Cook knew that communicating these ideas would be easier and more effective on a large scale if those he wished to have in his audience when preaching were feeling at their most receptive and positive. It would be good to take the people away from their normal surroundings full of industry and toil and put them somewhere more pleasant, let them relax and enjoy good fellowship, perhaps play some healthy games - even to have a decent picnic provided. There could be music provded by a brass band, some hymn-singing of the sort they enjoyed in church and chapel. What a marvellous thing it would be if they were not only entertained by food and play but perhaps excited by something new, something exciting, spectacular even.....

The railway could supply some of the answers to the main needs that he was seeing. On 5 July 1841 the event he had begun to shape that day out in the countryside took place. It was also the event that would launch a whole new set of activities and the employment which went with them: mass travel, tour operations and - the heart of what Thomas Cook was seeking - travel as education.

On that day he had hired a train from the Midland Counties Railway to take 570 passengers from Leicester to Loughborough at a cost of one shilling (5p) per person. In a field in the town the crowd had food, non-alcoholic drink, music and games - and speeches on the joys of temperance. The excitement of having made an eleven-mile journey in the open wagons of a train
must have been immense. The day was judged a success all round, so much so that Cook made further excursions over the next few summers for temperance groups and Sunday-school pupils. In 1845 he took a party to Liverpool, booking evrything needed at an all-in price and offering trips by sea along the north Wales coast. Information booklets about the journey and the destination were circulated to evryone. In 1846 he escorted 350 people from Leicester to Scotland. In 1851 he ran a number of trains carrying 165,000 visitors to the Great Exhibition in London. There were failures - a bankruptcy which had to be overcome - but persistence established Thomas Cook as the pioneer that we know of today - a pioneer of tourism as education whose business would take people across continents and exploring around the world.
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Image: Ggantija Temples

Ggantija Temples

19.01.09

Here are pictures of the oldest free-standing structures in the world - older than Stonehenge, the Pyramids and anything else you care to name. But pretty much unknown.

On the left is a model of the remains of the temples which is part of the small, but excellent National Archaeological Museum in Valletta, Malta's capital. Ggantija is only one of a whole number of ancient temples in the country - Tarxien, Mnajdra, Hagar Qim, Skorba and others - and is itself on the island of Gozo. Next picture: a timeline for the Ggantija temples in the Museum - they're at the top at around 3,400BC. Then: a group of visitors in 2004 listening to a Maltese guide (pointing) at the site. Right-hand: part of the temple walls are propped up with scaffolding as they have been for several years.

The archaeology is little-known world wide and the 'earliest remains' fame hasn't yet arrived. Ggantija is in great need of more suitable conservation and visitor facilities which are limited to someone selling tickets and a few pieces of interpretation - leaflets, postcards and interpretive panels. A small exhibit in the entrance to the National Archaeological Museum says that an internationally-supported plan for improved treatment of all the temple sites is out for public consultation, which "will be complete by 2007"..... no mention of the outcome. Malta is, of course, the EU's smallest country with limited resources. All the more reason for getting cracking, raising the profile and standard and bringing in more tourists who want to understand just how important this tiny republic has been in Mediterranean history.
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Image: Malta - Mdina - tourism

Exploring The Old And The New: Malta - Mdina

18.01.09

Not on the Grand Tour trail in the eighteenth century but with a longer span of history on show, Malta is a popular Mediterranean resort and of course has featured regularly on this web site, thanks to the residentials that Leeds Met ran for nine years.

In fact Malta has a longer human history to show than virtually anywhere else in the world - at least until archaeologists prove there are earlier human artefacts somewhere else. The Ggantija Temples on Gozo, the second-largest Maltese island, date from earlier than Stonehenge, the Pyramids or any other ancient remains. But they are not well known. The tourist group above was being shown around Malta's early capital city, Mdina, a tiny and very attractive city indeed yet with its fortified entrances through the city walls and the main cathedral - that in the modern capital, Valletta, is described as the Co-Cathedral. On hand inside Mdina's gate is one of the horse-drawn carriages which take visitors around, and one of the colourful buses that ply the roads of Malta. These are popular with visitors but not so popular with image-conscious Maltese people. Outside they're beautiful but inside old fashioned and not always the most comfortable. On the other hand, thay're part of the Maltese story along with much else to tell visitors about from the country's five-thousand-years-plus history.
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Image: Adam Sedgwick

Leaders Into The Field: Adam Sedgwick

17.01.09

Adam Sedgwick (1785-1873) was born in Dent, Yorkshire, and attended the nearby Sedbergh School. After becoming a student at Trinity College, Cambridge he took holy orders, in 1817, but the following year moved on from being a Fellow of Trinity College to becoming the Woodwardian Professor of Geology in the University of Cambridge. "Hitherto I have never turned a stone" he is reputed to have said on his appointment, "henceforth I shall leave no stone unturned".

Sedgwick's importance in the general area of education out of the classroom was in the field excursions he organised for his students and other interested people. In these he inspired many - including women, who he allowed in to his classroom lectures, unusual for the time - to take an interest in exploring the countryside. He wasn't the first to lead geological excursions, William Buckland of Oxford having done so in 1832, Sedgwick following in 1835. The Cambridge professor's trips into the Fens were immensely popular, however, with sometimes up to 70 students following him on horseback in order to hear five lectures in a day.

Adam Sedgwick was also influential in choosing the young Charles Darwin as a field assistant. Darwin studied geology after achieving his first degree. When he made his famous voyage in HMS Beagle he sent rocks and fossils from South America back to Sedgwick and kept up a correspondence with him. They were to disagree on the matter of religion and evolution but the fact remains that Sedgwick had contributed to Darwin's exploration skills and scientific knowledge just as he had with many other people. The study of geology in the field was some way ahead in Britain of that of geography and Sedgwick was one of the reasons why.
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Image: Carl Ritter

Leaders Into The Field: Carl Ritter

16.01.09

The importance of German efforts within geography is shown by Carl Ritter (1779-1859) who was a close contemporary of his fellow countryman, Alexander von Humboldt.

Ritter was not an explorer of new lands, however. He was a collector of knowledge through constant with men who did travel. What he did do outside the classroom and lecture hall, however, was to be a propagandist against slavery and racism. He corresponded with the Royal Geographical Society in London, who were mainly interested in exploration to further the economic gains of Britain. He had taught Heinrich Barth who explored northern and western Africa and who worked on behalf of the British government to eradicate slaving.

Carl Ritter began to publish his great series of books called 'The Science of the Earth in Relation to Nature and the History of Mankind' in his earliest days as a teacher. It reached 19 volumes but by the time of his death it had covered only Asia and his particular interest, Africa.It was Ritter who promulgated the view that geography was a kind of comparative anatomy of the world, and that its mountains, deserts, glaciers and river valleys were instrumental in shaping the history of mankind. "The earth is a cosmic individual with a particular organisation, an 'ens sui generis' with a progressive development: the exploration of this individuality of the earth is the task of geogarphy" he wrote. Ritter was casting the shape of geographical thinking for the next several decades.
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Image: Alexander von Humboldt

Leaders Into The Field: Alexander von Humboldt

15.01.09

Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859) was a German naturalist and explorer who was an early pioneer in the growth of interest in travel amongst Germanic peoples. Along with men like Carl Ritter he encouraged through his explorations and writings the German love of discovery. His modern-day countrymen and women are amongst the great travellers of Europe, making expeditions across many continents in order to experience places and peoples and to learn about the world in general. German schools have a long tradition of excursions and holidays with the same aims, well before most other countries including the United Kingdom. This is partly due to Humboldt.

His early travelling included England, Vienna and a tour of Switzerland and Italy studying the botany of those places. Then he spent five years in Latin America between 1799 and 1804, observing and describing the countries he saw in a new, scientific manner. His account of the travels were published over 21 years in a monumental set of books. It was Humboldt who first suggested that South America and Africa were once joined, long before the Atlantic Ocean was formed. In 1845 towards the end of his life he wrote the five volumes of his work 'Kosmos' which set out to draw together different areas of scientific knowledge. Darwin, Goethe, Jefferson and many others regarded him as one of the most prominent of scientists. Humboldt inspired later generations to travel and explore like he did - even if they were to use more comfortable means of touring to do so.
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Image: Johann Pestalozzi

Leaders Into The Field: Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi

14.01.09

Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi was a Swiss teacher and educational reformer. He was born in Zurich in 1746 and died in Brugg, Switzerland in 1827. Like Rousseau he wrote a book on education but unlike Rousseau he was a busy teacher for many years, first in Birr, then Stans, next Burgdorf and finally Yverdon.

Pestalozzi was not so much a teacher advocating outdoor education but rather one remembered as a general educational reformer who placed the pupil at the centre of education. He once said "The role of the teacher is to teach children, not subjects". His most important book was called "How Gertrude Teaches Her Children". Pestalozzi's ideas were based on starting from the simplest steps and progressing to the more difficult. Observation was to be used, followed by conscious thought about what was observed, and finally the use of speech to discuss the results within a general system of knowledge. Measuring drawing, writing, numbering and reckoning would come after that. At the heart of observation was the idea of 'Anschauung' which could be translated as 'sense impression', the 'experience' which resulted from the observation. This concept would be a key element in German, as well as Swiss, ideas about travel.

'Doing' leads to 'knowing' said Pestalozzi, so it can be said that Anschauung contained within it an active process on the part of the observer - it was not a simple, passive procedure. Seeing, hearing, touching etc had to be thoroughly performed, multiple activities, such as looking at a thing from different points of view. The knolwedge gained had to be related to other knowledge so that an integrated picture would emerge like (as we might see it) the growing completion of a jig-saw puzzle.

Children helped each other in Pestalozzi's class. He said "I put a capable child between two less capable ones. He embraced them with both arms, he told them what he knew and they learned to repeat after him what they knew not".

His experience in the early days at Stans, where he was teaching orphans gathered together after suffering during the French invasion of 1798, was crucial. Of this he said

"I learned, as never before, the relation of the first steps in every kind of knowledge to its complete outline; and I felt, as never before, the immeasurable gaps that would bear witness in every succeeding stage of knowledge, to confusion and want of perfection on these points. The result of attending to this prefecting of the early stages far outran my expectations. It quickly developed in the children a consciousness of hitherto unknown power, and particularly a general sense of beauty and order. They felt their own power, and the tediousness of the ordinary school-tone vanished like a ghost from my rooms. They wishes, tried and persevered, succeeded, and they laughed. Their tone was not that of learners, it was the tone of unknown powers awakened from sleep; of a heart and mind exalted with the feeling of what these powers could and would lead them to do".

So Pestalozzi was describing classroom teaching, but those principles that he was identifying would become the basis of out-of-the-classroom education as well. A later posting in this series will describe the writings of Freeman Tilden in 1957 about heritage interpretation in American National Parks. Tilden's principles of interpretation owed much to the ideas formulated by Pestalozzi, as did many of the ideas of educationalists in the years between.

Pestalozzi, J H (1801) How Gertrude Teaches Her Children: available online from the Internet Archive.org edition.
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Image: Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Leaders Into The Field: Jean-Jacques Rousseau

13.01.09

Jean-Jacques Rousseau was born in Geneva in 1712 and died in France in 1778. He was an important philosopher, writer and composer who has exerted a great influence on world life and culture. His writings certainly contributed to the development of political ideologies of all shades of opinion. His ideas on education have had a profound effect on both theory and practice at all levels, even though some aspects of them were quickly rejected as being impractical. Some years after his death he was reburied in the French Pantheon in Paris as a national hero.

For someone considered to have added much to the ideas about educating children it is ironic that Rousseau had five and sent them to an orphanage where they might not have survived to adulthood. His defence was apparantly that they would have done better there as he would have been a poor father. Since orphanages had high mortality rates that view must have been questionable at the very least.

Rousseau's thoughts about education were set out in his book 'Emile', a semi-fictitious account in which the author brings up a young boy in the countryside. To Rousseau the city is a place where children would learn bad habits, mental as well as physical. Emile has a tutor who teaches him on a one-to-one basis reminiscent of those tutors who accompanied young men of wealth on the Grand Tour. The boy is educated through three stages of life. The first is up to the age of twelve when complex thinking was thought to be impossible and the child behaved according to animal instincts. From 12 to 16 reasoning begins to develop. From 16 upwards adulthood is achieved and useful skills like carpentry are acquired. Working with wood demanded skill and creativity but would not compromise the child's morals.

Rousseau thought that Nature was a good and effective teacher. He wrote "Nature exercises children continually, it hardens their temperament by all kinds of difficulties, it teaches them early the meaning of pain and sorrow".

In another section he wrote: "Men are devoured by our towns. In a few generations the race dies out or becomes degenerate; it needs renewal, and it is always renewed from the country. Send your children to renew themselves, so to speak, send them to regain in the open fields the strength lost in the foul air of our crowded cities. Women hurry home that their children may be born in the town; they ought to do just the opposite, especially those who mean to nurse their own children. They would lose less than they think, and in more natural surroundings the pleasures associated by nature with maternal duties would soon destroy the taste for other delights".

It was through this kind of idea that Rousseau became an inspiration for education outside the
town or city, or if the child were country-born it was about learning about himself or herself and their relationship to society.

Rousseau, J-J (1782) 'Emile': quotations from the Gutenberg Project (http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/5427)
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Image: John Locke

Leaders Into The field: John Locke

12.01.09

John Locke was an English philosopher who influenced many thinkers and writers in the seventeenth century when he lived (1632-1704), and subsequently many others such as Rousseau, Voltaire and David Hume. For these postings on education out of the classroom and, informally, through travel and tourism, his importance lies in his essays "An Essay On Human Understanding" and "Some Thoughts Concerning Education". Unlike his contemporaries in the church he believed human beings started life without inborn knowledge - like a 'tabula rasa' or blank page - on which knowledge gained in life would be inscribed.

In "An Essay Concerning Human Understanding" he wrote that knowledge came from external sources, which to us would mean our general environment with its stores of information and the wider world to be explored. His style is that of a man writing about philosophy in 1690. Here is an example:

"The notice we have by our senses of the existing of things without us, though it be not altogether so certain as our intuitive knowledge, or the deductions of our reason employed about the clear abstract ideas of our own minds; yet it is an assurance that deserves the name of knowledge. If we persuade ourselves that our faculties act and inform us right concerning the existence of those objects that affect them, it cannot pass for an ill-grounded confidence: for I think nobody can, in earnest, be so sceptical as to be uncertain of the existence of those things which he sees and feels".

In "Some Thoughts Conerning Education" Locke develops the idea that learning must not be a matter of absorbing facts by rote, but one of aquiring skills which can be used to learn, and that the whole process must be enjoyable in order to succeed. He writes of many things including the curriculum for learning by skills acquisition. As just one example he describes the usefulness of drawing:

"When he can write well and quick, I think it may be convenient not only to continue the exercise of his hand in writing, but also to improve the use of it farther in drawing; a thing very useful to a gentleman in several occasions; but especially if he travel, as that which helps a man often to express, in a few lines well put together, what a whole sheet of paper in writing would not be able to represent and make intelligible. How many buildings may a man see, how many machines and habits meet with, the ideas whereof would be easily retain’d and communicated by a little skill in drawing; which being committed to words, are in danger to be lost, or at best but ill retained in the most exact descriptions?"

The connection with being educated away from home and possibly out of doors is made. People were already making the Grand Tour of Europe from Britain and Locke's comments helped to encourage sketching and painting as a way of recording what the traveller encountered (see the entry on Tourist Photography in the blog posting on this web site for 30 October).
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Locke, J (1690) An Essay On Human Understanding: available online from www.gutenberg.org
Locke, J (1693) Some Thoughts Concerning Education: avaiulable online at www.bartleby.com
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Image: People at the Colosseum

Leaders Into The Field: Richard Lassels

11.01.09

The term "Grand Tour" was first used by the French - 'le grand tour' - and then introduced into English usage by Richard Lassels. He wrote a book called "The Voyage of Italy" (sometimes refered to as "An Italian Voyage") in 1670. The word 'tourist' stemmed from it but was not used until the early nineteenth century.

Lassels was only one of a number of writers about the Grand Tour but it seems to have been his book which stimulated much of the early travellers in the seventeenth century - when the practice was already a century or so old but with much smaller numbers of travellers.

Richard Lassels listed four benefits that English partakers would gain: those of the intellectual, the social, the ethical or moral, and the political. He was actually writing about two established, but more localised, tours - the French grand tour and the Italian Giro. What emerged was a tour with a fairly common set of destinations even though individuals (accompanied by a tutor) were making their own way where they thought fit. The route would take in Calais, the Loire valley, Paris, Geneva (or, taking a different route, the Rhone valley to Avignon) and across into Italy for Venice, Florence and Rome. A frequent return leg went north into modern Austria and Germany and then west towards Amsterdam and then back to the UK. Some tour-makers went the opposite way round, but whichever way they travelled Rome was the high point of the journey, which could be spread over two, three or more years. Lassels was a writer who really led hundreds, if not thousands, out into the field of European society for the good of their education.
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Image: Richard Hakluyt

Leaders Into The Field: Richard Hakluyt

10.01.09 nominal*

The next series of postings will be about people in relatively modern history who have helped persuade others to explore the world for themselves. So it will not be about the primary explorers, the original pioneers, but about those who inspired more ordinary folk to explore. It will be an eclectic mix from writers like Rousseau to TV presenters like David Attenborough. It won't be comprehensive - how could it be with such a wide field? It won't attempt to provide more than a glimpse of their lives and work: there are plenty of published, detailed studies of each of them. The purpose of these postings is merely to draw together some of the main figures of importance to the development of tourism as education. Several of them were nothing to do with tourism as it is now known, but all of them had an influence on it. Tourism as education has its theories and its practices, even if these have yet to be codified in any form. These people have shaped some of them.

Richard Hakluyt (1152 or 1553 - 1616) was an ordained priest holding important positions in
Tudor England which allowed him to influence national affairs. He did this through the contacts he held and the books that he wrote. Among his achievements, albeit in collaboration with others, were the founding of English colonies in Virginia and the gorwing interest in world exploration, largely for political and economic reasons.

Hakluyt became chaplain and secretary to Sir Edward Stafford, the English ambassador to the French court, enjoying the patronage of the Stafford family until his death. He also became personal chaplain to Sir Robert Cecil, who opened up important posts for him at Westminster Abbey.

His early education had been at Westminster School. His parents had both died when Richard was young so he was given a guardian, his cousin who was also named Richard Hakluyt. On a visit to his guardian he was shown "certain bookes of cosmographie, an universall mappe and the Bible" which inspired an interest in acquiring knowledge, especially of exploration. At Oxford Hakluyt read voraciously amongst manuscripts and printed works on voyages and discoveries.

His first book was a translation of a French account by Jacques Cartier of that explorer's second visit to Canada, although some confusion as to publication dates might mean that it was a book by Hakluyt himself which appeared first. This was 'Divers Voyages Touching the Discovery of America and the Lands Adjacent to the Same' which appeared in 1582. Several other books would follow. He used his contacts to meet and interview sea captains, merchants and other mariners, 'making diligent inquirie of such things as might yield any light unto our westerne discoverie in America'. Time spent with the english ambassador in Paris was partly used to collect information about the Spanish and French activities in that direction. Further books appeared over the years about voyages and the values of overseas possessions. Exploration and later, empire, would prove to have been stimulated by Richard Hakluyt, and his promotion of the colonisation of Virginia and the trading of the East India Company helped turn that interest in geography into national economic growth.

A tradition of discovery through traevlling was, thanks to his books, the lasting legacy of this Tudor churchman and scholar. The Hakluyt Society, which was formed in 1846 for printing accounts of voyages and world travelling still publishes material each year today.

*actually posted later
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Image: Blackwell Study Notes

04.01.09n

Blackwells, who run university bookshops, produce a set of five pocket-size booklets useful to university students. They are written in conjunction with the University of North London and have been around for nearly thirty years, but are still highly relevant today. Shown are four of them. They cost 1.00 each. The set consists of:

Taking Notes From Lectures
Reading for Study
How to Write Essays
Citing References
Grammar book

Each book is clear and simple, without demanding the longer reading that a full text book on studying at university would demand. It does mean that they can't be comprehensive, but students have basic needs when studying and these booklets are aimed firmly at addressing those problems.

A lot of problems in undergraduate life revolve around the inescapable fact that higher education is a numbers game. In the UK the aim is for around 50% of the population to have taken a post-secondary university course. The result of this political decision is that course management, and therefore teaching, is becoming unwieldy, even uncontrollable. There is a shift of responsibility being made towards students having to educate themelves in ways that made dubious sense when only the very best went to university. 'Distance learning' is often the claimed panacea: not just of students miles away from their tutors doing everything via a computer terminal, but in the sense of large numbers of students with little individual tutor contact time given slabs of reading, group activities, multiple-choice assessment and mechanised feedback - standardised computer codes for common errors or misapplications. All of these can be helpful and do have a place in university. The danger is that they reduce the goals of higher education to a whole series of mechanical instructions about absorbing and then applying knowledge. That is what schools do in the lower and middle grades. Universities are about the handling of concepts and ideas. University education is about making sense of knowledge through a process of transactions between teachers, students and a stunning range of information sources. Better education demands more discussions, debates and the testing of ideas, not through bullet-point rehearsals of 'facts' but the challenging development of ideas in well-integrated expressions of thoughts. At the heart of the process are two activities which must be in symbiotic relationship: distilling ideas from sources and expressing those ideas anew in essays and verbal debate.

The Blackwell/University of North London booklets concentrate on those activities and it would be well if schools prepared their pupils for higher education by using them as well.

(The date of this posting shown nominally - 'n' - above in order to act as an indexing aid)

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Image: Thomas Cook brochure on Rome - 1955

All Roads Led To Rome - 1955

03.01.09

This is not a full guide book as such but a free brochure issued by Thomas Cook's to its customers visiting Rome. It contained basic information in three languages - English, Spanish and French. As a production of the 1950s it was internally in two colours but had a full-colour graphic on the cover. Photographs of some of the main sites were accompanied by brief descriptions. The main aim seems to have been to promote visits and tours organised by the company. The page spread on the right introduces four pages with four tours "by motor coach with guide-lecturer". Of course anyone visiting Rome for leisure was likely to be sightseeing and in need of historical information, but Thomas Cook's had from the very start in 1841 been aimed at educating in an entertaining, informal style. Another sign of the times was the offer of cars ("Go as you please by private automobile" - aimed at American tourists, perhaps) for hire as well as the use of coaches for group tours. The advert opposite the title page (centre) is a reminder that by now, post war, air transport was becoming dominant rather than railways for European travel. It was three years later that more passengers crossed the Atlantic by air rather than ship.
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Image: Baedeker's Rome - 1886

All Roads Led To Rome - 1886

02.01.09

By the later nineteenth century the Grand Tour (see yesterday's topic) as such was long gone. The Napoleonic Wars had made foreign travel more difficult - though not impossible. From the 1840s the coming of railways made for a shift in the social structure of travel. It became less expensive. Journeys were becoming much faster with the result that there was a much more clear-cut division between the travelling and the destination. A coach had to stop more frequently to change the horses and to spend nightime at an inn. The journey was interspersed with lots of little destinations as each stop was encountered. Railway trains could run for several hours and through the night if needs be. Dining cars and sleeping accommodation would be added in due course leaving the need for intermediate stops behind. For the most part of the nineteenth century though the restaurant and the overnight hotel would remain as requirements. As the rail network increased the distances and destinations open to choice multiplied. Countries which figured little on the Grand Tour - Spain and some of the German states for example - were available. Steamers working the Mediterranean and Baltic seas were extending the scope of travel further still. The days of the travel agent had arrived - in Britain Thomas Cook, Henry Frame, Dean and Dawson arranged everything necessary and could supply a tour manager capable of handling a few dozen people. The one-to-one approach of the tutor with his solitary student had gone. As mass education spread at the end of the century so did mass tourism. Both movements increased the mental horizons of whole populations, even if they could only experience elementary education and short excursions with their own regions.

The guide book industry expanded to meet a growing demand. Travel books could deliver some kind of satisfaction even to those unable to do any actual travelling. Armchair tourism has always outpaced actual tourism and the enjoyment of spending time reading about a wide choice of places to visit is a necessary precursor to the buying decision. W H Smith's railway bookstalls sold guide books (and others) to the passengers who needed to while away the hours spent travelling. The level of information packed in to the new books became enormous in both scope and depth. While few travellers ventured abroad following their own itinerary and arrangements, they would at least have been better able to make their travel agency journeys better informed. On their return home they would have been equippped to regale their friends and neighbours with not only the places they saw with their own eyes but a very good number that they had only read about.

Karl Baedeker's publishing business began in Koblenz in 1827 when he reprinted a guidebook to the River Rhine (see the Idealog page for January 2007). This was followed by the publishing of one of his own. It was successful, so others followed and the name Baedeker became almost synonymous with that of 'guide book'. "Look it up in your Baedeker" is said to have been a phrase in common use, interesting because it also reflected the fact that his books were little travel encyclopedias.

Shown above are a few pages from the ninth edition of "Italy: Handbook for Travellers - second part - Central Italy and Rome", of 1886. This is the English version available through the agency of Dulau and Company of Soho Square in London. It contained 8 maps, 31 plans, a panorama of Rome and masses of other details of places to see, hotels to use and dozens of shops selling statuary, paintings, engravings, books, artists' materials, artists' models with fashionable costumes, furniture, clothing, prints of photographs (postcards were not in common use then), places to hire carriages, places to obtain the services of porters, post offices, churches, events, museums and so on. Itineraries to suit short or long visits were detailed, as were books about the history, culture and current life of the places to be seen. The book itself has a finely-detailed eight pages of history of Rome alone with a chronology of the emporers and popes and page upon page of descriptions of places. It has fold-out maps and plans, but it is text-heavy and lacks the jundreds of colour drawings, photographs and maps that a modern book would have. Even so, it is much more a work of reference than most modern guide books. Only the French series by Hachette, published in Britain by the AA but not available for many years, have attempted anything like the Baedeker detail.
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Image: Antiquities of Rome - Basil Kennet

All Roads Led To Rome - 1746

01.01.09

"A man who has not been in Italy" said Dr Johnson in 1776 "is always conscious of an inferiority from his not having seen what it is expected a man should see". Samuel Johnson was referring to the fashion of taking the Grand Tour, the long journey across Europe to complete a young man's education and to prepare him to take his place in society as a figure of power and influence. Usually accompanied by an older man as his tutor, the grand tourist would probably see Paris and other parts of France before crossing the Alps into Italy and spending time in the great centres of the peninsula such as Venice, Florence, Sienna and, of course, Rome. Here lay, to Dr Johnson's mind, one of the four great sources of England's laws, politics and culture (the Assyrian, Persian, Greek and Roman empires). A catalogue of cities with their churches, palaces and assorted ruins would have to be seen and admired. Foreign habits, some to be copied, others to be avoided, had to be studied. Cultural norms and customs were to be noted, all the more to turn the young milord into an acceptable leader of society once back in England.

There were many guide books and histories to help. Then as now they could be read while abroad or studied at home before being placed prominently on the home library shelves to impress the neighbours. They were books like any others of the time - the same sizes, bindings, text styles and mode of illustration would be found. Today a guide book might be pocket sized with waterproof plastic cover and carefully planned referencing system to make them easier to dip into. The early guide books were largely set out for reading cover to cover though they did have contents pages and perhaps indexes for finding important information. Good ones had line drawings made from copper engravings and plans or maps. They often mixed heavy history in with the descriptions of sites to be seen.

Shown above is a copy of one such - Basil Kennet's 'Guide to the Antiquities of Rome" of 1746. It was actually the eleventh edition of a very popular work still to be found by collectors in the lists of dealers. The left-hand picture is of the spine of one copy: the front cover is opened to the right. The leather is worn but still protects the book. The gold-leaf lettering and lining is almost gone and yet it shows something of its old attractiveness and dignity. Opposite the elaborate title page is an engraving of the Duke of Gloucester to whom the book is dedicated (in flowery prose over four subsequent pages). Inside are illustrations on single pages or else printed on thin, folded paper sheets which open out. The maps and plans are collections of tiny sketches of buildings placed roughly in the correct relationship to each other. Other pictorial work shows classical figures drawn from statues or the images struck on coins. Pages of text have ornate drop-capitals at the start of chapters. There are strange items of typography such as linked letters and the letter 's' in three different forms - the normal version that we use and others looking like long or short 'f's, making it more difficult for us to read. The writing style is, to our eyes, over-elaborated and long winded. Image standing in front of the Colosseum on a windy day trying to distill from this kind of description everything you needed to know about what was in front of you. It was a style more suited to the long hours spent in a library when there were few distractions around.

And yet: by the mid-eighteenth century tourism for educational purposes was under way, confined as it might be to the upper echelons of society. The human guide, the printed guide book and much of the other infrastucture which now support educational travel were well under way.
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