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London Suburbs Hardcover – 1 Apr 1999
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If you've ever been bored in Bromley, cheesed-off in Chislehurst or quite frankly suicidal in South Woodford then this lavishly illustrated English Heritage-sponsored, multi-authored guide to the outlying environs of London might be just the ticket. Not only does it give lie to the idea that the 'burbs are an architectural desert devoid of interest to all but double-glazing salesmen, it actually points out that in many ways London's suburbs are where some of the most interesting socio-architectural experiments have taken place--from the modernist rhapsodies of Roehampton to the glass-and-concrete Venice of Thamesmead to the quintessential urban arcadia of Hampstead Garden Suburb, home of the world's very first cul-de-sac.
Not that the book shirks some of the suburban ideal's less happy offspring. Herein you will also find Becontree, Barking, Beckton and Broadwater Farm--along with lots of other ugly, tedious, remote, monotonous and often crime-ridden hell-holes. However, the general tenor of this marvellous, eye-opening volume is definitely upbeat. So much so that as one can idle through its comprehensive gazetteer, drool at its descriptions of leafy-green Georgian Barnsbury and lap up its idyllic pictures of Betjeman's Metroland and John Nash's rus in urbo it may even make you want to pack up your bags and move to Morden. Maybe. --Sean Thomas
From a Utopian ideal to the reality of the late 20th century, this book raises questions about the continuing attempt to link the city with the country.
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