Great British Railway Journeys

Boston to Hensall

Series 6 - Episode 12 Boston to Hensall



Ever wondered about the origins of the saying “Going round the bend”? Michael Portillo meets an expert on Victorian mental asylums who claims the expression comes from the way that grand psychiatric hospitals – such as the one Portillo visits near Wakefield – were given long, curving drives to shield them from public view. It sounds almost plausible, although other explanations are available.

That’s what this series is like – there’s always something to learn, or half-learn. Such as the origins of the Bramley cooking apple in one particular tree planted from a pip in a garden in Southwell, Nottinghamshire, in 1809: the tree is still there.


Michael Portillo continues his journey from Derby to Lindisfarne, with this leg beginning in Boston, south Lincolnshire, where he explores the connection between the town and its American namesake. At Southwell, Nottinghamshire, he discovers the origins of a favourite Victorian apple before heading into West Yorkshire to visit an imposing institution built in Menston to provide asylum for those with mental health issues. In nearby Wakefield, Michael boards one of Britain's least frequent services, before heading to Hensall, North Yorkshire.

Cast & Crew

Presenter Michael Portillo
Executive Producer John Comerford
Series Producer Alison Kreps
Education Lifestyle