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    'Barriers to Progress’: campaigns to remove gates from London’s streets, 1845-1895

    Eyton, Laurence Delorme (2022) 'Barriers to Progress’: campaigns to remove gates from London’s streets, 1845-1895. PhD thesis, Birkbeck, University of London.

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    Turnpike roads and private gated estates—both innovations of the period circa 1760-1830—were seen as boons when first introduced. The former greatly improved main roads in and around the metropolis, while the latter facilitated better estate planning and preservation of property values in a city where every new development seemed subject to a slow decline. The result was a proliferation of gates—tollgates on the highways and private barriers in the streets—numbering at their greatest extent more than 400. From the mid-1840s there were a succession of campaigns to remove these, first, in the period 1845-1865, centring on tollgates, then moving to private gates where widespread abolition was achieved in the 1890s. Given that London’s traffic was inconvenient and congested but not on the point of paralysis, these campaigns were motivated as much by wider intellectual and ideological concerns as by practical matters, by the dominant belief in laissez faire and conceptions of progress and improvement and the way the city needed to be to bring these about. The campaigns involved arguments about free trade, local government powers and their use, property rights, the role of newspapers and Utilitarian ethics, and invoked ideas of anachronism, modernity and class-relations to provide a critique of Victorian London. As the promise of laissez faire faded in the 1880s, the ‘free streets’ movement metamorphosed away from its commerce-based origin toward a movement rooted in class-antagonism in pursuit of the widening of democratic values. The ‘free streets’ movements contributed to change the way Londoners viewed the city, municipal management generating a sense of ‘ownership’. Developments in recent years have threated both the legacy of this sense of public proprietorship and the free streets themselves. An understanding of the Victorian campaigns prompts interesting questions for modern campaigns to reverse their achievements.


    Item Type: Thesis
    Copyright Holders: The copyright of this thesis rests with the author, who asserts his/her right to be known as such according to the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. No dealing with the thesis contrary to the copyright or moral rights of the author is permitted.
    Depositing User: Acquisitions And Metadata
    Date Deposited: 17 Nov 2022 11:06
    Last Modified: 01 Nov 2023 15:51


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