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One If By Land, Two If By...River? Britsburgh Celebration Begins Today

From English breakfast to pub crawls, Pittsburgh will feel a little more British for seven days.

Roger Cranville, the President of British American Connections Pittsburgh, and Robert Charlesworth, a chairperson at BACP came and spoke to WESA’s Paul Guggenheimer on Essential Pittsburgh about “Britsburgh: A Festival of Britain in Pittsburgh”. The event is taking place during the celebration of Queen Elizabeth II as the longest reigning British monarch in history.

From September 8th-14th locals can learn more about the food, drink, music, and interconnected history of Great Britain and Pittsburgh.

Cranville and Charlesworth came up with the idea earlier in the year and began advertising the event in July. The local reception has been much larger than expected, with 50 partners participating in the region. Visitors can experience the culture all throughout the city: “A lot of restaurants and bars will be serving Fuller’s beer and serving up some fine English food. We do actually have fine English food, you know,” Cranville chuckled .

They say Pittsburgh and Great Britain’s connection dates back to 1758 when General John Forbes named the city after then-British Secretary of State William Pitt.                

“Of course, the coat of arms, the black and gold where we get the Steelers colors from is actually, you know, William Pitt’s coat of arms.”

Cranville says the event was inspired by the Trinity College Choir’s Pittsburgh appearance as well as the ongoing connections between Great Britain and the Steel City. He cites the influence of Scottish-American industrialist Andrew Carnegie and University of Pittsburgh founder Hugh Henry Brackenridge as men who helped build the city and “Britsburgh” looks to illuminate this history.

Today, many Pittsburgh residents still have connections to the country, says Cranville: “We thought there’s all these people with British heritage here in the Pittsburgh region; there’s all these servicemen who have served in Britain. There are so many people in this region that, actually, their ancestors go back to Britain or they’ve touched Britain.”

Attendees can taste British tea, sample traditional foods, listen to British authors and even participate in a “Queen Elizabeth II Look-Alike Competition.” 

Cranville and his son wrote a letter to Her Majesty regarding the festival. She did respond, saying she could not attend, but wished Cranville, the organizers, and all the patrons the best:

“’Her Majesty has asked me to convey to you, Mr. Cranville, and everyone involved in ‘Britsburgh’ her good wishes for a successful and enjoyable event,’” wrote Jennie Vine, deputy correspondence coordinator for Buckingham Palace in a letter to Cranville.

Queen Elizabeth II becomes Great Britain’s longest reigning monarch on Wednesday. Among those celebrating her accomplishment will be those attending Britsburgh: A Festival of Britain in Pittsburgh. Roger Cranville, president of British-American Connections Pittsburgh and BACP chairman Robert Charlesworth organized the event, which kicks off today. 

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