Thames Town – an English town in China
On first view Thames Town looks like the idyllic English village. Bowling greens, mock Tudor cottages, pubs, quaint shops and even the ubiquitous red telephone box – so popular with tourists.
You would be forgiven for thinking you were strolling through the moneyed suburbs of the home counties, perhaps Tunbridge Wells or somewhere like Guildford but Thames Town is not nestled in the British countryside; it’s located in Songjiang, near Shanghai.
Thames Town didn’t grow gradually over hundreds of years; it simply sprang up in 2006 as part of Shanghai’s “One City, Nine Town” initiative, an attempt to decentralize the city.
The city is a virtual ghost town, a failed attempt to artificially create an ‘organic’ community. Yet it’s a popular destination for wedding photos, for a great (if not a little unsettling) gallery of Chinese newlyweds posing amongst the hedgerows and with English police men (actually private security guards employed to maintain the serenity) have a look at Racked.
There’s even an outpost of Next – that British favorite on the high street, for those Chinese hungry for the most mediocre of English retail experiences.
Blogger triplefivedrew, who visited Thames Town in 2010, likened the place to the set of The Truman Show.