Here I will share interesting places to visit that I’ve found along my journeys… There are some hidden vintage/history gems out there that I want to share with you so that more people can appreciate them!
I’d love to hear any suggestions you have of places to visit or things to add to this page!
The Mirror @ Betty’s Tea Room – York
I’ll start with this one as we visited recently and it was a lovely surprise and addition to our quick visit to York!
This is a lovely bit of wartime history and great to have a close look at… find it near the toilets downstairs at Betty’s Tearoom in York! Read more here:
“During the war the Oak Room became Betty’s Bar, a popular haunt among servicemen from nearby air bases. Some left a permanent reminder of their visit by inscribing their name onto a mirror which still hangs in the basement café.
No-one is entirely sure how the practice started. One story tells of airmen using a waitress’s engagement ring to scratch their names on the mirror. Another tale recalls a mirror onboard the Queen Mary which featured signatures of famous celebrities, inspiring Frederick Belmont to install a similar mirror in his York Tea Room for the real celebrities of the day, the servicemen using his bar. Whatever the origins of the mirror, the practice quickly caught on.
By the end of the war the mirror featured nearly 600 names. Sadly many of the young men who signed their name never returned from their dangerous missions overseas.
Today several sections of the mirror, which was damaged during an air raid, hang in the downstairs Oak Room as a reminder of all our wartime patrons.
Families of those who served in the war and serviceman who were stationed in the area still visit Bettys to search the names on the mirror.”
The RAF Bar @ The Eagle Pub, Cambridge
This pub is possibly the oldest in Cambridge – opened in 1667 and has some pretty interesting history… it was where, on the 28th February 1953, Francis Crick announced to the pubs lunchtime goers that he and James Watson had discovered ‘the secret of life’ or DNA! However, the reason that this pub is on my list is that it hides an atmospheric World War II secret in one of its five rooms…
Above is a picture of the ‘RAF Bar’ which is situated at the back of the pub.
The RAF Bar was a regular haunt for young airmen during WWII and they took to leaving their mark on the pub’s ceiling. “It is believed that in late 1941 or early 1942, a young airman stood precariously balanced on a chair atop a table in the back bar, then using a candle he burned his Squadron’s number into the ceiling. This started a tradition that was to continue until war’s end and beyond, right up to the days of the Berlin Airlift in fact”
The ‘artwork’ was covered up by years of cigarette smoke, but one keen eyes regular spotted the details and helped the pub clear it up and preserve it. He even created a map!
The boys used lighters, lipstick, charcoal and candles to make their mark and you can see many different squadrons represented. There were also a lot of US Airmen who came over after 1942 stationed around Cambridge and they would also come to relax and add their units to the ceiling here…
Although the Eagles Pub‘s website doesn’t hint much, if at all, to this lovely memorial, they do have a few pictures up in the RAF Bar with more detail. It would be nice to see more though!
Quote above from – http://www.398th.org/PDF/Friends/Osborn/Osborn_A%20Famous%20Ceiling.pdf