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Report of the Visit to the Cabinet War Rooms, Churchill Museum and a Guided Walk around Whitehall with Peter Lawrence.

28 April 2009

After an excellent journey on a bright cold Spring morning, we settled ourselves at the Cabinet War Rooms for a talk on the Second World War artists, having been welcomed by a very good cup of coffee and shortbread.

Very different styles were depicted. Laura Knight's propaganda paintings were almost photographic - one of a factory worker and another of a barrage balloon being prepared for launch. Paul Nash and Graham Sutherland's paintings were in contrast almost abstract. We were shown several lithographs by Ethel Gabain of land girls logging and evacuees and a painting of people queuing for fish. My favourite was of three land girls learning to milk using artificial udders and teats.

We then went on our own way with audio guides to relive the life of the war rooms. The Churchill Museum was fascinating being roomy and full of high tech displays but, for me, without a flowing order. We also lunched in relays at the excellent café.

At 2.30pm we gathered at Clive Steps for a guided walk through Whitehall with Peter Lawrence. He drew on his lifelong experience of working in the area as an advisor on security matters to politicians and royalty. We crossed Horse Guards Parade and went under Admiralty Arch. We passed the gates of Downing Street, Government buildings old and new, the Banqueting House and the Cenotaph, noting all the anti-terrorist barricades being put in place. We then walked through some beautiful gardens where the Thames used to run in days gone by before picking up the coach at Charing Cross and returning home.

A day really well organised by our brilliant Marilyn and Judy with a guide who matched his pace to his clientele perfectly. What more could one ask for?

Pat Breakell

Here follows a photographic record of the visit