Thames Town: A Quaint Corner of Shanghai

The skyline of Thames Town includes a replica of the Saint Mary Redcliffe Church in Bristol and the Millenium Bridge in Norwich.

This place is well documented, but fits into my Counterfeit Paradises series as Shanghai remains one of the fastest growing cities on the planet. In order to keep up with demand, the municipal government must supply housing for up to 400,000 new residents every year. In an effort to provide a bit of flash and diversity to the monotony of Chinese urban sprawl, developers broke ground on Songjiang New City which included nine satellite villages utilizing design elements from various European countries. Thames Town, modeled after quaint English hamlets, was the centerpiece and eventually the largest debacle after failing to attract permanent residents. The English-themed restaurants and stores remain shuttered while the streets only see the passing of young couples posing for wedding photographs. Far from the hustle and bustle of downtown Shanghai, the Thames Town Church seems poised to continue without a congregation for the foreseeable future.

Bronzes of famous English figures dot Thames Town, incuding a pouty Winston Churchill.

Bronzes of famous English figures dot Thames Town, incuding a demure Princess Diana.An old man fishes on the artificial lake near the Thames Town yacht club.The most common sight on the streets of Thames Town are couples using the faux English environment for wedding photography.

The most common sight on the streets of Thames Town are couples using the faux English environment for wedding photography.Bronzes of famous English figures dot Thames Town, incuding the ever-popular Harry Potter.The most common sight on the streets of Thames Town are couples using the faux English environment for wedding photography.

The most common sight on the streets of Thames Town are couples using the faux English environment for wedding photography.Thames Town comes complete with identical English telephone boxes.Gated communities with expensive villas line the empty Thames Town business district.

A resident takes her dog for a walk in one of the gated developments that surround Thames Town.The most common sight on the streets of Thames Town are couples using the faux English environment for wedding photography.The suburban English villas sometimes incorporate Chinese elements such as this large stone marker for the house number.

The Thames Times offices never opened in the first place.Thames Town security all sport the same red outfits, but rarely find themselves busy.The chip shop in Thames Town was copied from a building in Dorset but closed down long ago.

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    1. Abi Martin

      I think you’ll find the church is a replica of Christ Church Clifton, in Bristol, not St Mary Redcliffe in Bristol. Just thought you might want to update your information.

      Mar 08, 2012 @ 11:27 am

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