[photopress:Ldononchinatown.jpg,full,alignright]In Shanghai’s suburb of Songjiang is Thames Town, complete with pub, fish-and-chip shop and a bronze statue of British wartime leader Winston Churchill. There is a neo-Gothic church as well as Georgian- and Victorian-style terraced houses.
Stands the Church clock at ten to three?
And is there honey still for tea?
Honey may well be off but this looks like a slice of old England.
James Ho, the director of privately owned Shanghai Henghe Real Estate, one of the town’s five developers, said, ‘I wanted the properties to look exactly the same as those in the United Kingdom. I think English properties are very special. When we decide to learn from others, we should not make any improvements or changes. I emphasized this policy to my staff.’
The development, which cost about RMB5 billion ($635 million), is expected to house 10,000 people.
Although most of the houses have been sold few residents have moved in and most of the shops are not yet open for business. But it makes a wonderful backdrop for wedding snaps.
As reported Gail Caddy from Lyme Regis in Dorset, southwest England thought she might be able to take legal action because, in her opinion, her pub and fish-and-chip shop have been replicated in Thames Town. Her establishments, the Rock Point Inn and Cob Gate Fish Bar, have both been reproduced almost exactly, though Caddy’s fish-and-chip shop is spelled ‘Cobb.’
Paul Rice, an associate director from Atkins Shanghai, a British agency which designed the project, said they did not knowingly copy anything. He said, ‘Maybe it’s a little bit of a misunderstanding. It’s not in any way supposed to be a replica.’
Atkins has offices in parts of England near historic towns like Lyme Regis and Bath which inspired the designs.
In another sense this is like England. Almost all the houses have been sold for prices starting at RMB3 million($381,000) which is about what the real thing would cost. Most buyers are from Shanghai.
British architecture is not the only inspiration for town planners in China. An Italian and German town are also planned. There is no mention of a Welsh mining town being recreated which is plainly an oversight.