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  • Meirion Harries

DAY THREE: The Corduroy Road

Updated: Mar 26


This excellent map is courtesy Routemaster Jamie Macdonald.


So up onto one of Berlin's grander streets - the Kurfurstendamm. A street for the soigné, for boulevardiers - such as myself - wide and grand, much like myself. And a street with interesting origins. The Kurfurstendamm started life as a corduroy road - a road made of logs laid tightly side by side to allow the Elector (the Kurfursten) of Brandenburg to travel to his hunting lodge in the Grunewald.

This image from the Library of Congress illustrates that the same technology was being used during the American Civil War, three centuries later. Famously, from Savannah, William Tecumseh Sherman used corduroy roads to move his army of 60,000 men an average of 10 miles day through vast marshlands in January 1865 to devastate North Carolina (having already devastated South Carolina).


After the war, Sherman and the Confederate General - Joseph E Johnston - he defeated in the Carolinas Campaign became friends. 25 years later in New York , Johnston was one of the pall-bearers at Tecumseh Sherman's funeral. The day of the funeral was bitterly cold and wet and, out of respect for his one time adversary, the 88 year old General Johnston refused to wear a hat - and did indeed catch a chill and died of pneumonia two weeks later.


Corduroy roads were in use in the Second World War while a different and smoother form of wooden road - a plank road - was made by engineers 5000 years ago near Glastonbury.

So, pedalling on down this long boulevard with Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church behind me housing the Cross of Nails - a Cross made from three nails from the medieval timbers of the old Coventry Cathedral - I pause not at Dolce & Gabbana or Ermenegildo Zegnathe - my lycra is still perfect - or even at Reinhards for Pastinakenschaumsüppchen (parsnip foam soup with a lot of cream and arctic shrimps) but go on to cross the line of the Berlin Wall.

And what better now than to hear the theme of the liberation. With thanks to Anne Glover for the link, here is:

https://youtu.be/3eXT60rbBVk

Do watch past the musicians introducing themselves.


Vorwärts in die Zukunft!

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