Click above for what became the consented plan, plus Transport page.


'Greater London: The Story of the Suburbs' by Nick Barratt – reviews

"London is 'completely dwarfed by the sprawl of the suburbs that embrace and encircle it'. Nick Barratt’s appropriately massive history celebrates not just the central city but Greater London, a term that came of age in 1889 with the foundation of the London County Council. It embodied the idea that London was more than a city, it was a metropolis, the largest urban centre on the planet at that time.

"Adopting a chronological approach, Barratt traces its evolution from its pre-Roman origins, through its role as the 'fortified heart of Norman power', and into the medieval period, when 100,000 people lived in London, many of them beyond the City walls in nascent suburbs.

"By the time Henry Mayhew gazed down on London from a hot-air balloon in 1847 the 'leviathan Metropolis' stretched as far as the eye could see."

- rest of Guardian review, and link for sale at discount: here.
Reviews below are from 2012 (click on images):

The Spectator:
"Little boxes, all the same"
"The epithet ‘suburban’ has tended in latter years to be used snootily by those who regard themselves as fully-detached cosmopolitans. Margaret Thatcher and Finchley come to mind — though of course Thatcher actually lived in Chelsea, not far from the Arts Club. The truth is that, with few exceptions, people travel to work. They commute. They are suburban. Crouch End, for example, is full of journalists and actors and musicians: the last thing they would describe themselves as being is suburban, but that is what they are. In fact almost 70 per cent of London’s population is suburban. To be urban you have either to be very well-off or the opposite.

"... The roads have always been a disaster. One chilling paragraph here describes a GLC plan for three concentric rings [it was four] around the capital. There are urban bien-pensants who affect to love the Westway, but the idea of something similar ringing the capital in ghastly nooses does not bear thinking about. In the event only the outer ring was built: the M25 [a mix of the third and fourth rings].

The best bits of this book are the well-chosen quotations from great observers: Pepys - his is the first recorded mention of the Hackney carriage, John Evelyn, Dickens - describing Jacob’s Island in Oliver Twist: 'every repulsive lineament of poverty, every loathsome indication of filth, rot and garbage'."

Daily Telegraph:
"This history of the capital’s sprawling suburbs is flawed but highly entertaining"
"This history not only tries to encompass all London, but all elements of London – transport, sanitation, education, welfare, crime, policing, public health, immigration – you name it.

"... We learn that Kilburn was a spa town, that Turnham Green was feared for its highway robbers, that by the beginning of the 18th century London was drowning in human waste and, according to Swift: 'Sweepings from Butchers Stalls, Dung Guts and Blood/Drowned puppies/stinking sprats/all drench’d in mud'.

"... The real story of suburbia, for most of us, comes with the opening up of the transport routes in the mid-19th century, with the extension of the train lines, coach and later bus and car routes into what were formerly villages on the edges of London. Typically, this is meticulously recorded, and for my money the book comes into its own in the final quarter, 'From Metropolis to Metroland'."

The Independent:
"An epic account of how Britain's capital city became the behemoth of greater London"
"You don't have to be a Londoner to enjoy this heroic tale of people – and bricks and train-tracks – triumphing to the detriment of green space. You might need to be more enamoured than I am of local politics in order to relish the ever-shifting status of the Metropolitan Board of Works/London County Council/Greater London Council, but even with this material, Barratt gives an overview of 150 years of bureaucratic spats with a relatively light touch.

"You certainly don't have to like the suburbs - they have always divided even as they conquered. One of the book's anecdotes sticks in the mind. 'Each evening the children's writer E Nesbit would produce models of factories and suburban villas out of brown paper and cardboard and then ritually set fire to them'."

No comments:

Post a Comment