U3A group explore history of London during special trip

The group on their trip
The group on their trip

The Bognor Regis U3A group had a special trip to mark the USA’s Independence Day.

They visited The Mayflower Inn, Rotherhithe, from where the ship of the same name set out for the New World.

The group enjoyed tea, coffee and biscuits and a stroll out on to the balcony overlooking the river to watch the pleasure craft and river taxis go up and down.

For some, this was an opportunity to reflect at how the river bank on the northern side had changed from grubby warehousing and quaysides to smart shiny residential.

This was followed by a short stroll to the Brunel Museum and then down into the shaft of the tunnel.

The group’s guide, Sarah, outlined how the Brunels survived ridicule, bankruptcy and ill health to build the first tunnel under a river in the world. No longer a road tunnel, her introduction was punctuated by the sound of the London Overground trains running beneath her feet.

The modern day road tunnel was built much later and still very much in use, just to the east.

The group then crossed the river using the Blackwall Tunnel and entered the gleaming towers of the financial centre on the Isle of Dogs.

Here they had lunch before being let loose to visit the new Crossrail Station on Canary Wharf, part of the new ‘Lizzie Line’, with its roof garden which includes many plants from countries that were the destinations of the ships setting out from London in the 17th and 18th centuries.

The Museum of London-Docklands contained the temporary exhibition, ‘The Archaeology of Crossrail’, which was a display of the many artefacts dating back to the Mesolithic period that had been unearthed during the excavation works for the tunnel and the new stations. The brilliance of the construction work and the story that the exhibits told added a new dimension to the history of London.

Bognor Regis U3A are a lively and friendly organisation offering a wide range of learning, creative and leisure groups for the retired and semi retired. Anyone who is no longer in full time employment is eligible to join. It’s a good way to meet people and make new friends. Costs are low because the activities are organised by members, who share their skills and expertise. Membership is currently more than 500 and is growing steadily.

Find out more at u3asites.org.uk/bognorregis/home.

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