Why Did Busloads Of Asian Tourists Suddenly Arrive In This English Village? : Parallels Residents of Kidlington awoke one morning to find hundreds of foreign tourists snapping photos on their front lawns. For six weeks, the visitors continued to come by the busload. Then they vanished.
NPR logo

Why Did Busloads Of Asian Tourists Suddenly Arrive In This English Village?

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/486650221/487729977" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Why Did Busloads Of Asian Tourists Suddenly Arrive In This English Village?

Why Did Busloads Of Asian Tourists Suddenly Arrive In This English Village?

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/486650221/487729977" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

A tiny village in rural England suddenly found itself on the international tourists map, and no one knows why. Kidlington is about an hour and a half outside of London and a pleasant enough place. Then, one day, seemingly out of nowhere, it had more tourists than it could handle. Lauren Frayer went there to investigate.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Last orders at the bar please.

LAUREN FRAYER, BYLINE: The King's Arms pub has been around 300 years here in Kidlington in rural Oxfordshire.

GERRY MCGRATH: And it tends to gather the elder generation rather than the youngsters.

FRAYER: One day this spring, bar man Gerry McGrath recalls how a tour bus pulled up.

MCGRATH: Suddenly, a coach turned up out the front and they just started walking along, taking photos, went and asked if they could sit beside people.

FRAYER: About 100 Asian tourists. They all ordered orange juice. McGrath didn't have enough. The next day, another bus load and then another.

FRAN BEESLEY: The coaches will either stop further down the road outside the Baptist church.

BEESLEY: Fran Beesley was still in her bathrobe one morning when she found a Japanese family taking photos of her flower beds. She lives in a 1970s bungalow, and it was trash collection day.

BEESLEY: I saw this gentleman putting his camera away. Well, as you can see, it's just - you got vegetables and just geraniums. And this house further along here where there's a trampoline in the front garden, and they asked if they could have a go on the trampoline and...

FRAYER: Adults.

BEESLEY: Yeah.

FRAYER: She tried to offer them tea. The bus driver was Polish. The tourists Japanese she thinks. They said something about Harry Potter.

FRANCHESCA BOURKE: Just weird, just really strange to see.

FRAYER: Franchesca Bourke and Jack Tysoe are self-appointed town sleuths. They think tour guides have lied and said Harry Potter was filmed here. It wasn't. Some Hogwarts scenes were filmed in nearby Oxford. And this is a convenient pit stop from the outlet malls nearby. There's also the British detective show "Inspector Morse."

Could that have caught on abroad?

JACK TYSOE: There's potential in the "Morse" thing because a lot of it is shot in streets in Oxford.

FRAYER: Villagers wonder if they're being punked. But before the mystery could be solved, the tourists have disappeared. It's been more than two weeks since the last bus load. The streets of Kidlington seem eerily quiet.

MAURICE BILLINGTON: This is the old part of Kidlington. I love the place - love it. And we'd go down there and you'd get to the river Cherwell. It was lovely. We used to go down there when we was little. There was 10 of us. My mum had 10 children.

FRAYER: Parish Council Chief Maurice Billington says there's so much to see in little Kidlington, a medieval church with stained glass, the village hall. If only the tourists would come back.

BILLINGTON: I said if we can put a couple of tables up and sell cream teas.

FRAYER: People here were just getting used to all the company. For NPR News, I'm Lauren Frayer in Kidlington in rural Oxfordshire, England.

Copyright © 2016 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.