At our Monthly Meeting in June, Lentune Probus Club were treated to an engaging talk by Liz Barron, illustrated by photographs old and new, about her journey with her husband, Tony, that followed the same route taken by her Grandfather from Barry in Wales to Shanghai. 

 Her grandfather, Leslie Pardoe, had set out on his journey 100 years before on 20th April 1913. He was a 21 years old bachelor going to start a new job as deputy surveyor for the authorities in this Chinese city. Shanghai had become an important trading port where British, French and Americans had established enclaves and Leslie lived in the Far Eastern Port for 27 years. He married Liz’s grandmother there in 1916 and they had four children with John, the youngest of three sons, being Liz’s father. Leslie’s 27 years in Shanghai had ended abruptly in 1940 when the Japanese took over the city and he was fortunate to be able to escape with his family to Canada and then on to England.

Liz explained, “As a little girl I was fascinated with all the Chinese artefacts in my grandma’s house and when I read grandpa’s diary of the Shanghai trip, which had been handed down the family after grandpa’s death in 1965, I realised that we were coming up to a century since he made that journey.  The idea came to mind that maybe we could replicate it”.  There was one big difference though, Leslie Pardoe had travelled first class for £10 7s 3d but it cost Liz and Tony £25,000 to do the same trip!

Liz and Tony took eleven months to plan their trip to ensure that they were able to stay in the same cities and hotels Leslie had experienced on this 6,000 mile adventure. They were able to do this as Leslie’s 25 page diary was very detailed and included several photographs many of which Liz displayed to the Members.

Although Liz and Tony live in Southampton, they decided to start from Barry, from the actual house where Leslie lived at the time, just as he had done a century before. The route took them to Cardiff and then to London Paddington. They dined that night in the same London restaurant as her grandfather had done and the following day travelled to Ramsgate crossing the Channel to Ostend. The subsequent train journey took them through Northern Europe stopping for short breaks in Brussels, Cologne, Berlin, Warsaw, Minsk and Moscow. They then had four days and nights on the Trans-Siberian railway to Listvyanka on Lake Baikal in Siberia before taking the Trans-Manchurian railway to Changchun in Northern China via Harbin.

The only change to the route was that her grandfather had taken the three day ferry from Dailen across the East China Sea to Shanghai, but the service no longer operates so they completed the final leg by overnight train which passed through Beijing. Leslie’s journey had taken 15 days, but because Liz and Tony took advantage of sight-seeing along a route they would probably never do again, the journey for Liz and Tony was longer at 24 days

Liz outlined, and illustrated, many of the fascinating sights and experiences they had on the trip including the ornate metro in Moscow, the beautiful churches in Russia albeit often surrounded by hovels and poverty, an Easter Sunday picnic with locals at Lake Baikal amply supplied with vodka, seeing the still primitive ploughing by hand typical of Russian agriculture, and the sight of herds of camels in Siberia.

After reaching Shanghai, Liz and Tony spent three weeks touring China and Hong King before returning by ait to Southampton after their momentous seven week trip.

After a lively and informative question and answer question session, Liz was given a warm vote of thanks.