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The Journey Matters

What was it really like to take the LNER’s Art Deco Coronation streamliner from King’s Cross to Edinburgh, to cross the Atlantic by the SS Normandie, to fly with Imperial Airways from Southampton to Singapore, to steam from Manhattan to Chicago on board the New York Central’s 20th Century Limited or to dine and sleep aboard the Graf Zeppelin?

In the course of The Journey Matters, Jonathan Glancey travels from the early 1930s to the turn of the century on some of what he considers to be the most truly glamorous and romantic trips he has ever dreamed of or made in real life.

Each of the twenty journeys allows him to explore the history of routes taken, and the events – social and political – enveloping them. Each is the story of the machines that made these journeys possible, of those who shaped them and those, too, who travelled on them.

Wings Over Water

Announced in 1912, the Schneider Trophy was a series of glamorous air contests, popularly known as races, that captivated both sides of the Atlantic. While there were many other aviation competitions, the Schneider proved to be, after a rocky start, by far the most memorable attracting a hugely popular and glamorous following whether Trophy races were held in Monaco, the Venice Lido, the Solent or Chesapeake Bay.

The Schneider Trophy was a focus not just of remarkable aircraft, derring-do pilots and swooning public attention, but also of fierce rivalries between the competitors: Britain, France, Italy and the United States. It gripped the imaginations of pioneering manufacturers and two of the world’s finest aircraft designers ­- Reginald Mitchell and Mario Castoldi – who worked feverishly hard to outdo one another. Perhaps inevitably, the dynamism of rival engineering and politics led to the most potent military fighters of World War Two with Reginald Mitchell’s record-breaking Supermarine seaplanes morphing, one way or another, into the Spitfire.

Wings Over Water not only tells the story of the Schneider Trophy afresh but also examines the backdrop and legacy of these legendary air races, which became a driver and celebration of speed and engineering prowess for both sea and ground-based aircraft. It is an exhilarating tale of raw adventure, public excitement, engineering genius and the fortunes of flying boats and seaplanes.

The Reign – Life in Elizabeth's Britain

The first part of Matthew Engel’s sweeping social history of modern Britain during the reign of Elizabeth II.

The Reign

She came to the throne in 1952 when Britain had a far-flung empire, sweets were rationed, mums stayed home and kids played on bombsites. Seventy years on, everything has changed utterly – except the Queen herself, ageing far more gracefully than the fractious nation over which she so lightly presides.

How did we get from there to here in a single reign? To cancel culture, anti-vaxxers and Twitter feeds? Matthew Engel tells the story – starting with the years from Churchill to Thatcher – with his own light touch and a wealth of fascinating, forgotten, often funny detail.