Sunday, December 13, 2015


UK 12 Month Visa 1947
Click on any image for a larger version

No, it's not really about Brexit. I'm cheating and just wanted to catch your attention.

Once upon a time, after re-entering the UK from the Continent, I discovered a strange stamp on my passport. It told me I could stay in the UK for only six months. What, I wondered, had happened to the common travel area (CTA) between Ireland and the UK. Then I realised that I must have gone through the wrong gate at passport control and got the wogs' treatment.

Then in more recent times following up my family history, I came across the above stamp on a cousin's 1947 Travel Permit Card card. It didn't make any sense to me, as I thought we had a common travel area with the UK since independence.

So I checked it out.
The CTA was suspended on the outbreak of war in 1939, and travel restrictions were introduced between the islands of Great Britain and Ireland. This meant that travel restrictions even applied to people travelling within the UK if they were travelling from Northern Ireland to elsewhere in the UK.

After the war, the Irish re-instated their previous provisions allowing free movement but the British declined to do so pending the agreement of a "similar immigration policy" in both countries. Consequently, the British maintained immigration controls between the islands of Ireland and Great Britain until 1952, to the consternation of Northern Ireland's Unionist population.


Irish Travel Permit Card 1947-1952

From the card you will see that the cousin made only two trips to Britain between 1947 and 1952, one by sea (to Holyhead) and one by air (to Northolt).

Now Northolt is an RAF base, and this made me wonder if my cousin had been on some nefarious secret service trip. Unfortunately, I got over my excitement when I read that, pending completion of Heathrow, Aer Lingus used Northolt as its London terminal.

I have been flown in to Northolt myself by the Irish Air Corps in the now fastly receding days when I was a serious VIP, and that's what brought the possibility of the cousin's nefarious mission to mind.

So, even at this late stage, one lives and learns.

And, God forbid, we could be back there sooner than we think.

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