“Rugby? There is nothing there.”

301We met quite a few English people on our Norway cruise, and when we told them we planned to stay in the market town of Rugby, the response was always the same. Indeed, even the people we met in Rugby seemed puzzled that we chose to stay with them.

The longer we were in Rugby the more I realized they failed to appreciate what they had.

072We chose Rugby for a week’s stay because if you toss a dart at the center of a map of England, it lands more or less in Rugby. We planned to take short day trips out into the surrounding countryside.

Similarly, when we chose a hotel over the Internet, we chose a smaller one because it appeared to be centrally located in Rugby. The Carlton Hotel was only about a ten minute walk from the train station and even closer to the central market area.

Rugby PubAlthough, the hotel only had about three dozen rooms, our room was well decorated, reasonably spacious and extremely clean. There was tea, coffee, decaf coffee, hot chocolate and cookies in the room. It had the thickest towels we have encountered in a long time, and a great Wi-Fi connection. Breakfast cost extra, as is usual in England, but was excellent.

Each morning, I took a walk. Each evening when we returned from our excursions, we walked to a new pub or restaurant. In a very short time, we had a good feel for the town.

306Rugby was and still is a railroad center. One career railroad engineer told me “you can get anywhere from Rugby.” It is predominantly a working-class town. It has the second-highest number of pubs per capita in England. And while the pub food was generally mediocre (except for the great baguettes), everyone we met was very friendly and welcoming. We did have a very good Chinese meal and an absolutely outstanding Indian meal at the Maharaja.

355It is a pretty town with a large park, flowers in home window boxes and gardens and baskets of flowers hanging from the lampposts. One always felt safe walking along the streets.

311Rugby even has a few claims to fame. It will be no surprise that the game of rugby football was invented there. There is a great statue of the young boy William Webb Ellis running with a ball under his hand. He “inspired” the game at the Rugby School “close” in 1828.

A more modern sculpture commemorates Sir Frank Whistle’s April 1937 first successful test of a jet engine. Unfortunately, it seems the Germans were the first to put a fighter plane around it.

Memorial to Sir Frank Whistle

Memorial to Sir Frank Whistle

There is also a statue of Rupert Brooke, a popular if minor local poet who died while in the military overseas and whose grave is marked “a little bit of England forever.”

Several streets have been closed to automobiles, and open-air markets are held each Monday, Wednesday and Friday. As with virtually every English town, there was a church dating back centuries.

Rugby: there is nothing there if you are looking for famous tourist sites or great historical landmarks.

353But just as we have often found in U.S. small towns, if you open your eyes and ears to the people and the place, you will be surprised how much you enjoy it.


About ralietravels

Ray and Alie (Ralie) are a retired couple who love to travel. Even during our working years, we squeezed a trip in whenever we could, often when we had to stretch the budget to do so. We have been fortunate to vacation in all 50 states, all the provinces of Canada and one territory and a little more than 50 countries. We like to drive, but we particularly love to travel back roads to find unusual sights, people, and experiences.
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