So where did this all begin – this strange connection with Germany and Austria ?
Well – we have to go back to a cloudy, rainy day in January 1958, when Jane Crawford and Peter Crawford (see left in 1955) made their way along the Hanworth Road to the local travel agents.
There Jane booked a holiday to Bavaria.
Now this was odd.
Firstly because travel abroad was relatively rare in the 1950s, mainly because of the rigid currency controls which only allowed individuals to take relatively small sums of money out of the United Kingdom.
And secondly it must remembered that the Second World War had only ended in 1945, and Germany was not a particularly popular destination at that time.
Peter was very excited, although he had little idea of where Bavaria was, or what the place was like.
Soon, however, the excitement was forgotten, and it was only with a trip to the photographers on Hounslow Broadway, opposite the Bus Garage, in the early summer, that the enthusiasm was rekindled.
The photographs were for a new passport, and in those days British Pasports were ‘real passports’, with hard covers of a royal blue, buitfully embossed and gilded with the Royal Arms.
The next step was John Crawford’ visit to the Bank Manager, armed with his passport, in order to change some english sterling into Deutschmarks.
Then it was time for new clothes, with shirts and shorts for Peter, in Jane’s favourite pale green.
Then the school Summer Holidays came in August, and it was time to go on holiday.
Now Peter had been abroad before – to France – and by air – which was a real adventure in the 1950s, but only to Calais and Paris.
Bavaria was like Ruritania, however, a strange place in the middle of Europe, high among the mountain peaks – so this was to be a real adventure !
And Peter had seen the prisoner of Zenda, which was set in the mythical Ruritania, a few years earlier – one of his favourite films – and also had a copy of the book – so he knew what to expect.The Prisoner of Zenda was made in 1952 – starring Stewart Granger, Deborah Kerr, Louis Calhern, Jane Greer, Lewis Stone, Robert Douglas, James Mason and Robert Coote. It was adapted by Edward Rose, (dramatization) Wells Root, John L. Balderston, Noel Langley and Donald Ogden Stewart (additional dialogue, originally uncredited). It was directed by Richard Thorpe.It is a shot-for-shot copy of the 1937 film, the only difference being that it was made in Technicolor.
So – the summer came, and with it for Peter, came the summer holidays from school.
And the holiday began, but not with a trip to the airport – currency restrictions made that too expensive – so it was off to Victoria, and a train to the coast and a ferry to the continent.
Then it was a journey by train across Europe – and a long journey – and for Peter the first time on a Pullman Train, where you actually slept on the train – and this was the most exciting adventure that Peter had ever had – apart from flying to France perhaps.
And this was a ‘package holiday’ organised by a company called ‘Blue Cars’ – which was a reference to the Pullman cars – which included the train journeys, ferry and accommodation in Germany.