Britain’s Lost Cities by Gavin Stamp - review by John Martin Robinson

John Martin Robinson

Urban Wasteland

Britain’s Lost Cities


Aurum 192pp £25

The architectural destruction of British cities in the middle forty years of the twentieth century – from about 1930 to 1970 – is not paralleled elsewhere in Europe, nor can it be entirely explained by economic conditions, wartime bombing or Socialist theory. While both the ‘Third Industrial Revolution’ economy in the Midlands and South East in the 1930s and the property boom of the 1960s led to massive urban destruction, prosperity and economic progress need not of themselves have caused so much damage. On the contrary, the more buoyant finance-based prosperity of the 1980s or Edwardian Britain was a strong spur to architectural preservation and enhancement.

Aerial bombardment, and particularly the immediate clearances in its aftermath, caused never-repaired damage and general visual degradation in historic English towns like Exeter, Bristol and Canterbury. But equally bad (or worse) war damage on the Continent – in places like St Petersburg, Warsaw, Nuremburg, Munich, Pisa or Vicenza – was

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RLF - March