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Portillo makes tracks for the Black Country in Great Railway Journey

By Black Country Bugle  |  Posted: January 23, 2014

Michael Portillo lines up a visit to Bantock House

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MICHAEL Portillo's latest Great British Railway Journey brings him to the Black Country this week.

The politician-turned-TV presenter visited Wolverhampton last spring to film a new series of his popular BBC Two show – and followed his "Bradshaw's Guide" to call in at four local landmarks.

And viewers can see the outcome of his exploits in tomorrow (Friday's) Great British Railway Journeys on BBC2 at 6.30pm.

In the show, Michael uses George Bradshaw's 1863 Railway Handbook to see how the nation has changed over the last 150 years. His interest in Wolverhampton was sparked by Bradshaw's comment that "all kinds of articles in iron, brass, tin-plate, Japan work" were made in the area.

During his time in Wolverhampton, he visited Bantock House Museum to inspect its renowned collection of Japanware and speak to Yvonne Jones who wrote a book on the subject.

Japanning is a method of applying a thick varnish to protect and decorate a variety of materials such as tin and papier mache, a technique that was developed to imitate more expensive imports of Indian and oriental lacquerware.Wolverhampton was one of the leading centres for its production in the 18th and 19th centuries and the city has a large collection, much of which is displayed at Bantock House.

Michael also visited the old Low Level Station, which has been given a new lease of life following a multi-million pound restoration, and inspected the Prince Albert memorial which was unveiled by Queen Victoria on November 30, 1866 – her first public engagement since Albert's death.

He concluded his tour by visiting West Park where he recorded his thoughts about his week-long journey from Southampton to Wolverhampton.

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