Channel Tunnel Visions, 1850-1945
The idea of a Channel Tunnel has always aroused strong emotions in Britain. It has been supported by those wanting closer political, economic and cultural links with Europe but opposed by believers in Britain's island identity and overseas empire. In contrast, the French have been almost unanimously in favour. Channel Tunnel Vision 1850-1950 is an account of attempts over a century to build a link with France. Early schemes, some owing more to Heath-Robinson than to sound engineering practice, were succeeded by serious proposals based on scientific surveys of the sea-bed carried out in the 1860s. After describing the major entrepreneurs and their plans, Keith Wilson goes on to show the reactions of successive British Governments. On several occasions the decision on whether or not to go ahead was a very close-run thing. He quotes the views, which make remarkable reading, of Prime Ministers from Gladstone to Ramsay MacDonald; of Foreign Secretaries including Grey and Curzon; and of admirals and generals ranging from Fisher to Wolseley, French and Henry Wilson. Their fears of sabotage, invasion and a future political rift with France were set against hopes of economic advantage. They also saw an enhanced ability to respond quickly to future German aggression. How the existence of a Channel Tunnel would have affected the 1940 campaign is an intriguing speculation.
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The Committee of Imperial Defence 19067
The First World War 191418
The Paris Peace Conference 1919
Between the Wars
Admiralty advantages argument Army asked aspects attack believe Board of Trade Britain British Cabinet carried Channel Tunnel Churchill Clarke Committee communication Company conclusion consideration considered construction Continent Continental danger decision Defence Department destroy difficulty discussion doubt Dover economic effect enemy engineers England existence fact favour February force Foreign Foreign Office France French further future German given Government grounds hand Hankey Home hostile House important increased invasion involved Italy January July June land Lloyd George London Lord March matter means meeting memorandum military Minutes naval necessary objections operations opinion Paris peace plans Ports position possible Power prepared present Prime Minister probably proposed question Railway reason regard relations Report scheme Secretary side Staff submarine suggested taken Transport troops whole Wilson Wolseley wrote