Cover Image: Unofficial Britain

Unofficial Britain

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Member Reviews

Loved this book! I’m one of those people, that although it’s before my time, love the tv films a ghost story for Christmas. This very much has that vibe. The whole scratching beneath the surface, hoping for something more, no matter how tacky. There’s something league of gentleman and the usborne book of ghosts about it. Something eighties. A more mythical time when the unexplainable was more possible.  Perhaps a childhood feeling. Definitely suited me.
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I really enjoyed this book and feel I learned a lot about Britain's fringes and recommended to any interested in the same.
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I requested this as I am trying to read more non- fiction,

I thought this was an interesting look at the landscape of Britain and local landmarks.
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Smooth read considering that it is a book of facts. A good travelling companion that celebrates local landmarks.
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Perfect for the traveller wanting to visit places off the beaten path. Why holiday around the world when you can holiday in your own country - when the lockdown is finally over! Until then we can read about the places we'd like to visit.
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Very good book, love all the information and I love how smooth of a read it is. The pictures are a nice addition and I like that I can visualize what you are talking about without being there.
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Thank you to NetGalley for letting me read this. 

Gareth Rees explores the back of buildings, the liminal spaces, the edges of car parks, the maze of underpasses. He's looking for embryonic mythology, for fresh, new, growing folklore. And he finds it. 

if you're interested in that sort of thing (and you should be), this is a fascinating read. He pulls together old stories and new ones, meets some urban shamen and city druids, and looks at how the stories we tell now reflect and riff on old old stories. It's as if humans have an urge to create meaning in their environment, and will bend that environment to take on the  meaning that they need. 

I enjoyed it very much.
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An excellent and well written books that helped me to discover new places and appreciate new to me places.
It's well researched and engrossing.
Highly recommended.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine
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A well-written and fascinating look at the landscape of Britain beyond the expected--a celebration of the local landmarks and overlooked structures that define our communities.
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Thank you to Netgalley and Elliott & Thompson for a review copy of this book. 

This was a fun take on normal sights we see in Britain. 

Reading reviews has signposted me to the fact this was a website set up in 2014 which detailed the 'mundane' and gave interesting spins on it. 

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Ian Sinclair psychogeography babble, the section on pylons was  interesting, unlike the M6 and industrial estates.   The doggerel in italics at the end of each chapter, did mean that I knew when a chapter as ending....
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Unofficial Britain by Gareth E Rees

Rating  4 / 5 Stars

Publication Date - 9/17/2020

** Thank you to Netgalley, Elliott & Thompson, and of course, Gareth E Rees, for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. 

After moving to the UK 2 years ago, one of the best things I have done has been exploring the parts of Britain which are often overlooked in comparison to those places we know in a global sense (cities, historical sites etc). The places explored are not the most beautiful. We often assume they are ugly, uninteresting and not worth our trip to see them. 

Rees gives these places new life. His ability to make them a beautiful piece of folklore and fiction which are a nod back to his roots as a writer of horror and weird fiction. The way he describes these locations is truly incredible.
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Unofficial Britain is a compliment of stories which Rees has posted on his website under the same title. 

His perspective of the landmarks we all see every day but with a new eye is quite refreshing, from multi story carparks, motorways to electrical pylons. It is a unique way in saying that the ordinary can be objectively extraordinary. 
I think this novel is a great at discovering the unusual in our everyday surroundings. A great book for someone who has read a lot and wants something new and fresh.  This is definitely a book I would get my dad for Christmas.
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Really enjoyed reading this book.,.Ive  been to London but to the usual tourist places  .This book introduced me to places people I’ would never of known about.Fun interesting informative will be recommending this book for anyone inquisitive about off the usual beat,#netgalley#unofficiallondon
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I haven't been to Britain, but have always been interested in the less known, less visited places. Too many tourists at the other! I enjoyed reading this book! I liked learning about the smaller, less traveled places and their people. I look forward to visiting one day and visiting some of these places! I think if you are planning a visit, you might want to take in a few of these sites as well as the more notable ones, to really get to know the country.
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This was truly a fascinating book covering a subject that most of us have little knowledge of so it was certainly enlightening. Like a lot of similar books, the introduction was very long and very detailed. Why this part is not simply introduced as chapter one I really don't know. It was so lengthy and intense that  there was a chance you might decide to go no further before actually reaching the start of the book. I learned a lot of very important information about our land as well as some wonderful folklore tales. It's not really a book at bedtime or even a thriller or geography book but more a journey around our country, full of facts we would, under mornal circumstances know nothing about.
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I loved this book, it wasn't what I expected, and I enjoyed it all the more for this reason.
 Gareth Rees writes with such passion and depth about his subject, and draws you in, making you think differently from the way you would have prior to reading this. Who would give a second thought to a motorway flyover, or see the social significance of a multi-story car park? 
The more I read, the more I wanted to read. His insights are fascinating, the research and the lengths he has gone to,  to get the information are amazing.
 Unofficial Britain is a book that has made me, think, wonder and has brought back memories from my childhood. I too thought that Rank Service Stations were the height of sophistication as a child, going on holiday, it was essential to stop and sit at a sticky table and eat breakfast, it wasn't the same if we just drove past! I had forgotten all about this, and the wonder of walking over the bridge and seeing the cars whizz past. 
Gareth has found social history amongst the most unusual and often overlooked parts of Britain. An inspired book.
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Just superb, a real treat, thank you. Intriguing journey through the post-industrial landscape that holds all the mystery and haunts as any forest or stately home.
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A very likeable chatty book about various aspects and oddities in Britain. Beginning with a chapter about pylons, it was a dubious start for me, but I found by the end of the chapter I had my eyes opened to these steel monsters. Parts of the book I found less interesting than others, put that down to personal interests, but still a very likeable journey round rather less obvious British attractions. Well written and compelling.
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Gareth Rees’s Unofficial Britain: Journeys Through Unexpected Places certainly lives up to its title. Despite having lived in the U.K. for a number of years, and the thousands of miles I’ve driven there, Rees took me to some places I never even got close to exploring (not that I would have likely explored them even if I’d known about them), some truly “unexpected places.”  

Picture if you would a study of the country’s electric pylon networks, its ring roads and roundabouts, its abandoned housing and industrial estates, its underpasses and flyovers, its “concrete castles” (otherwise known as multi-story parking garages), and its abandoned hospitals. My personal favorite chapter in the book is its last, one titled “An Emotional Life of the M6,” in which Rees details his still very strong attachment to that particular motorway. This is the chapter that readers will most easily identify with, especially if they have their own memories tucked away of some long highway or interstate they once traveled regularly with their parents.  

Gareth Rees visited multiple cities and towns in England, Scotland, and Wales in search of weird stories “about the lore of everyday urban life.” He traveled to major cities like Manchester, London, and Birmingham as well as to lesser known towns and villages such as Harlow, Grimsby, Greenock and Kirkintilloch. You might think that he was only looking for “haunted” spots in each location he stopped to explore. After all, how easy must it be to convince yourself that an abandoned hospital – complete with beds and other left behind equipment – or a long abandoned factory that looks like everyone just decided never to return one after work one day, is haunted? It would be particularly easy to do so at dusk, exactly the time of day Rees most often visited such places. 

But Unofficial Britain is not a book about ghost hunters or one written for them. Rees has a much deeper observation than that to share with his readers. Rees reaches the conclusion that even though everything about a place changes over the years, very little that matters actually changes. He maintains that a certain place tone and spirit is maintained forever despite what is overlaid on any place through the centuries – that each use of a place leaves something behind forever in an “ever-turning cycle.” He uses examples such as these:

	“The flyover where a viaduct once stood. The Victorian workhouse that became a hospital. The steelworks on the site of a monastery. The burial cairn surrounded by a busy interchange. Motorway earthworks that rise alongside their Stone Age predecessors.”

All places that Rees visits in Unofficial Britain” – all places where he feels the pull of the past so strongly that it gives him goose-bumps.
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