We had heard it existed but I'm not sure who from. Thames Town is a place which rings a bell with most Shanghai people... yet they're not sure why.
To set the record straight, Thames town is a wholly built, fully functioning copy of a small English town. Complete with everything you would expect from an English town... except the people.
There's a high street of shops, with names like "mike's records' and 'the fish bar'. All of them are empty, shells. It's eerie to walk around. There are the cobbles, the wooden beams, the double yellow lines, the telephone boxes and street after street of nothing. It looks deserted. In fact it was never used in the first place, barely anyone came.
Only a couple places, including Ruth's bar, have actually stuck it out. Probably serving 10 covers a day they've got a menu written only in Chinese and don't serve English food. The German bar doesn't open until 4pm.
The problem? It's in the middle of nowhere for one thing (sorry to those who live in Songjiang). It's a monumental £500m white Chinese elephant and never took off. Even their website hasn't been updated since the the month it opened in 2006. Supposedly all the properties were snapped up as investments, now they're trying to sell them. Posters with telephone numbers are stuck in apartment windows around town, the ones within reach are being covered by Haibao stickers to keep up appearances.
It's like walking around a huge film set where a handful of people accidentally live. Across from the church is what looks like an arcade of shops but walk through a open fire escape and it's like the Truman Show.
Around a corner is a little make up studio. Thames town's only real business. Couples who've come to have their wedding photos in front of a pew-less church a bronze statue of James Bond.
A few more photos here.