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Title: Ring Road: Birmingham and the Collapse of the Motor City Ideal in 1970s Britain
Authors: Gunn, Simon
First Published: 6-Jun-2017
Publisher: Cambridge University Press (CUP)
Citation: Historical Journal, 2017
Abstract: Reconstructing Britain’s cities to accommodate the ‘motor revolution’ was an integral part of urban renewal in the post-war decades. This article shows how opposition to urban motorways had a pivotal role in the retreat from urban modernism in the 1970s. It takes as its case study Birmingham, Britain’s premier motor city, headquarters of the motor industry and with heavy investment in roads, including the Inner Ring, Britain’s first urban motorway completed in 1971. The article traces the collapse of the motor city ideal in Birmingham sparked by controversy over car pollution at Spaghetti Junction, the growth of roads protest and the implication of the Inner Ring in municipal corruption. In so doing it identifies the intersection of environmental, political and economic factors that lay behind the volte-face in urban policy and compares Birmingham with other cities which witnessed similar revolts. It argues that the 1970s in Britain saw the end of a specific engineering vision of the post-war city, centred on the car and the ‘citizen-driver’.
DOI Link: 10.1017/S0018246X16000613
ISSN: 0018-246X
eISSN: 1469-5103
Version: Post-print
Status: Peer-reviewed
Type: Journal Article
Rights: Copyright © 2017, Cambridge University Press (CUP). Deposited with reference to the publisher’s open access archiving policy.
Appears in Collections:Published Articles, School of Historical Studies

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