‘Stopping to dream’: the beautification and vandalism of London’s interwar arterial roads

Law, Michael John 2010. ‘Stopping to dream’: the beautification and vandalism of London’s interwar arterial roads. London Journal. 35 (1), pp. 58-84.

Title‘Stopping to dream’: the beautification and vandalism of London’s interwar arterial roads
AuthorsLaw, Michael John
Abstract

In the interwar period in Greater London, the new arterial road system produced a contestation over appearance between the forces of beautification and vandalism. The Roads of Remembrance Association was determined to beautify the arterial road as a memorial to the fallen of World War I; it
jostled for influence with the Roads Beautifying Association and others for the leading role in influencing county councils in their planting schemes. This debate throws further light on the meanings of Englishness between the wars, when a traditional, picturesque interpretation of the rural was set against the modernity of the new roads. Both beauty and modernity were challenged by outside forces. Vandalism by the bored teenagers of London’s new suburbs destroyed memorials placed on the road by still-grieving
parents. Most of the attempted beautification was eventually destroyed by uncontrolled ribbon development, leaving a dystopic suburban landscape that is still with us today. Intellectual criticism of ribbon development was withering, but failed to take into account the attraction of modern, electrified houses on the new roads to London’s new lower middle classes.

JournalLondon Journal
Journal citation35 (1), pp. 58-84
ISSN0305-8034
YearMar 2010
PublisherManey
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)doi:10.1179/174963210X12598738033459
Publication dates
PublishedMar 2010

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