Chapter

This new England

John Baxendale

in Priestley's England

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print July 2007 | ISBN: 9780719072864
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781700662 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7228/manchester/9780719072864.003.0005
This new England

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This chapter deals with the development of England as a city state. Priestley was among the first of his contemporaries to recognise that something new was being born in suburban England, something ‘belonging far more to the age itself than to this particular island’. In the Victorian city, the development of public transport had encouraged the growth of purely residential areas connected to the city centre and the workplace by buses, railways and tramways. In the 1920s and 1930s, the growth of motor transport in particular encouraged not just an increase in the quantity of suburban housing but its uncontrolled sprawl into the surrounding countryside. The population of Birmingham grew by 25% during these years, but its built-up area increased by 68%. The housing boom, electrification, consumer goods, motor cars and the new mass media were not just elements in a better standard of living but the takeoff point for a series of cultural transformations which, interrupted by the war, were to be resumed in the 1950s and 1960s.

Keywords: new England; Priestley; Victorian city; Birmingham; cultural transformations

Chapter.  16349 words. 

Subjects: Social and Cultural History

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