The Channel Tunnel: By Humphrey Slater and Correlli Barnett with the Collaboration of R. H. Gaeneau

The Channel Tunnel: By Humphrey Slater and Correlli Barnett with the Collaboration of R. H. Gaeneau

The Channel Tunnel: By Humphrey Slater and Correlli Barnett with the Collaboration of R. H. Gaeneau

The Channel Tunnel: By Humphrey Slater and Correlli Barnett with the Collaboration of R. H. Gaeneau

Excerpt

IF YOU want to cross the Alps in the wake of Napoleon and Hannibal, you do not, in 1957, have to clamber precariously to the top-most crags as they did. Instead you get drawn through the bottom of these formidable mountains through thirteen miles of very solid rock, sitting comfortably in your wagon-restaurant. If you wish to follow Marcus Crassus across the shimmering deserts between Syria and Baghdad, you have no need for camels, not even as Lawrence needed them, as props for a photograph; you can take a bus in air-conditioned comfort. And if you wish to cross the twenty-six mile span of Lake Pontchartrain in Louisiana you do not have to paddle a canoe; you go by a bridge. But if you want to cross a ditch twenty-two miles across between a continent and an island, called the English Channel, you have to go the same way as did Julius Caesar and William of Normandy, and if you are travelling, like them, from France to England, you will find your reception by British Railways catering services hardly more warming than that accorded to them. Of course, now you can fly as well as go by ship, but this only gives you a choice of sickness.

The island and the continent which the English Channel separates are not like two pieces of an archipelago in the remote South Seas; the island was and perhaps still is the centre of a great empire, and the continent is the most densely populated, the most creative and civilised part of the globe; they have close ties of trade, politics and the arts. People from one side of . . .

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