BlogTHE ICONS OF ENGLAND- Innovation, Inspiration and Intrigue

12 April 2017by Scott McGregor0

Britain led the way with the invention and development of the modern steam railway, ushering in the Golden Age of Railways and exporting the technology all over the world. The extraordinary influence of Britain’s maritime and aviation heritage has also been revolutionary.

Isle of Wight Railway

Railway Adventures’ Icons of England tour through the heart of England and Wales celebrates the three great modes of transport that have helped to make the UK what it is today. Travel on all manner of trains and boats and witness fascinating museums, an iconic air show, stunning scenery, astounding architecture and a vast, eclectic mix of England’s cultural icons.


Britain’s empire was built on its naval strength, ruling the waves and the continents through mastery of the sea by sail and steam. Naval victories allowed the merchant fleets to feed the Industrial Revolution, which in turn depended on the Railway to drive its progress.

A visit to Portsmouth and an exploration of the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard will give us an opportunity to witness the iconic HMS Victory Warship. Made famous by its role as Nelsons flagship in the Battle of Trafalgar, the ship was built in 1765 and its miraculous preservation is an inspiration. Greenwich and the National Maritime Museum (one of the largest of its kind in the world), as well as the great clipper ship, the Cutty Sark are also icons of the Golden Age of Britain’s sea power and showcase the rich history of a time when “Britannia Ruled the Waves”.

HMS Victory Warship



Isambard Kingdom Brunel was an English mechanic and engineer, considered “one of the most ingenious and prolific figures in engineering history”. His innovative designs revolutionized public transport and modern engineering, his legacy spread wide over Britain.

Witness a number of Brunels accomplishments on our tour, including the Great Western Railway to Bristol, built in 1838. This iconic railway was the first of its kind to use a broad gauge, which Brunel believed would contribute to the speed.

Constructed in 1843, the Thames tunnel was the first tunnel to be constructed successfully under a navigable river, thanks to Brunel’s tunnel shield technology. Travel through this inspiring tunnel on your tour.

The iconic former passenger steamship, the SS Great Britain, was similarly a first of her kind. Being the longest steamship in the world from 1845 to 1854, the design of this ocean-going ship meant it was the first iron-steamer to cross the Atlantic (from Bristol to New York!)


The heritage railways of the Isle of Wight, North Wales, Yorkshire Moors and the Great Central are living icons of Britain’s rail success and accomplishment. Witness these on our tour, with a true highlight being a ride on the Welsh Highland Railway.

Ffestiniog Railway

The WHR, owned and operated by the Ffestiniog Railway Company, is the world’s oldest narrow gauge railway and the oldest railway company still operating trains. Stretching over 60 kilometres through the glorious Snowdonia National Park, the journey climbs over 210 metres from sea level into the mountains. It travels through tranquil pastures and magnificent forests, past lakes and waterfalls, round tight bends (even a complete spiral), clinging to the side of the mountain or tunneling through it.


Britain was also a leader in the world of aviation and it’s aircraft engineers, responsible for such successes as The Spitfire, Lancaster, Harrier and Concorde have left a lasting legacy.

In our tour we’ll get a chance to explore some of this iconic aviation history, immersing ourselves for the full day at the Duxford Airshow, one of the world’s largest. The show features dynamic flying displays over the skies of Duxford’s historic airbase, aerobatics and aerial ingenuity from powerful aircrafts, live shows and music, exhibits, and celebrations of everything from a Sopwith Camel to supersonic fighters.

We’ll also get a chance to explore The Imperial War Museum at Duxford, Britain’s best-preserved WWII airfield. Historic buildings sit alongside the striking contemporary exhibition halls ‘AirSpace’, and the ‘American Air Museum’. An amazing gathering of aircraft, exhibits and associated activities, showcasing Britain’s historic domination of the skies.

Spitfire flypast at the Duxford Airshow

Railway Adventures ‘Icons Of England’ tour departs in September 2017, and is lead by UK expert Alan Coltman. Download a brochure here-

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Scott McGregor

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