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Posts Tagged ‘London’

Metropolitan History
7 December 2011
Applying new spatial techniques in the study of late medieval London
Justin Colson (CMH/IHR)

Mapping London's PastAs part of the postmodern turn in the study of history, the focus on space (alongside the usual questions of who, when, why) has become a mainstream topic of study.  Justin Coulson summarises some of the latest studies to involve spatial data and in particular looks at how the digital is helping to transform what can be achieved and discovered through such studies.  Coulson notes current projects such as Locating London’s Past and Mapping London – both of which use geo-referencing to create accurate maps of pre-modern London.  Then there are postgraduate and postdoctoral studies such as Tim Bishop’s use of the Antwerp Alderman register to enable him to create an accurate map of the property boundaries in the fifteenth century city.  At the University of York, Gareth Dean is using tenement records to spatially understand nearby Swinegate, whilst Nick Holder is locating London friaries and their development through time.  Carley Dearing (Liverpool) is creating 3D maps of medieval Winchester and Marlas Craine is employing ‘space syntax’ to understand public spaces in the nineteenth century.

Coulson’s own research is focused on neighbourhood in medieval London.  Early modernists claim that the rise of the self (amongst other things) led to the decline in neighbourly activity that had previously existed.  However, this previous existence of a neighbourhood community is generally taken for granted and has yet to take on any properly understood shape.  Coulson therefore has sought to use spatial technologies to find out to what degree there actually existed a neighbourhood in late medieval London.  To achieve this Coulson needed to find out who lived where and map this onto an accurate medieval layout of the city.

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The East India Company at Home: Domestic Interiors, Public Histories and Material Cultures
Margot Finn (University College London)
Franco-British History seminar
28 February 2013

 

Georgian_House_-_geograph.org.uk_-_704233Abstract: The East India Company at Home, Domestic Interiors, Public Histories & Material Cultures’ discusses the context and preliminary findings of a 3-year collaborative research project based in the History Department at University College London.  In recent decades, the Georgian country house has featured in films, television, tourism and history as an icon of ‘Englishness’ (and, to a lesser extent, of Scottish, Welsh and British identities).  This project contrasts this narrowly national representation of the Georgian country house to the increasingly ‘global’ forces that shaped country house construction, purchasing and furnishing in the Georgian era.  Its focus is on both ‘Oriental’ luxury objects and the significance of the country home and its furnishings for the families of the English East India Company.  How did the aspiration for an ‘English’ home sustain Company men’s participation in colonialism in India?  How (and why) were Indian fortunes domesticated through the purchase of country houses in Britain? What role did Chinese, Indian and Japanese luxuries play in building effective country houses?  Addressing these issues has involved the East India Company at Home team in new forms of collaboration, new forms of public history, aimed at illuminating the global underpinnings of British national identities.

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Tsar Alexander II (d. 1881) (wikipedia)

Tsar Alexander II (d. 1881) (wikipedia)

Whose Home? Jewish migration and local reaction in the East End of London 1870-1914

Oliver Betts (York)
Metropolitan History seminar
13 February 2013

This is a guest post from the IHR intern Paris Jones (Roehampton)

In this seminar, Oliver Watts discusses and explores the cultural differences between Jewish migrants and their non-Jewish neighbours in East End London which caused tension between the two groups. After the assassination of Tsar Alexander II in 1881, there was an increase of Jews moving into the East End of London. Watts notes that the Jewish migrants were not welcomed by their non-Jewish neighbours and as they moved in, their gentile neighbours moved out.

As more Jewish migrants began to settle in London, the gentile neighbours began to worried about their way of living. They felt that the new migrants were taken all the jobs from them. Oliver Watts suggested that the attitude towards the Jewish migrants was not because of their religious background but because of the cultural differences.

The way the Jewish migrants dressed and lived was foreign to their neighbours. The Jewish migrants lived off of little and worked long hours. They rented in the areas they worked so that they could live and worked at the same place. There were many similarities between local working class and Jewish migrants. The anxiety of the influx of the Jewish migrants allowed propaganda to be created in the area.  Jewish families co-existed with non-Jewish families and rarely crossed over. Not only did this cause tensions but cultural separation and misunderstanding.

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Voluntary Action History
The First Lady Almoner: The Appointment, Position and Findings of Miss Mary Stewart at the Royal Free Hospital, 1895-1899
Lynsey Cullen (Oxford Brookes University)
27 September 2009

 

Abstract: The work of the Almoning profession within the medical system of the late nineteenth century has been seriously neglected in historical study. Few references to the occupation have been made in previous studies, which have made no attempt to comprehensively consider the role and importance of the first Almoner in establishing the profession.  The first Lady Almoner was Miss Mary Stewart, a member of the Charity Organisation Society appointed at the Royal Free Hospital of London in 1895. The decision to create the office of Almoner came jointly from the Royal Free Hospital and the Charity Organisation Society in response to fears that patients were abusing the system of free medical care provided at the Royal Free.

Royal Free Hospital (wikipedia)

Royal Free Hospital (wikipedia)

 

The role of the Almoner was to act as a gatekeeper to the hospital, means-testing patients in order to decide if they were eligible to receive treatment at the Royal Free (and if so, to decide whether they could make a contribution to their care), or whether they were better suited to treatment provided elsewhere.  No work to date has been carried out into the developing role of Miss Stewart or into the findings of her investigations. Miss Stewart kept an Almoner’s Record Book containing the fourteen reports she produced between the years of 1895 and 1899, when she retired due to ill health. Each report recalled the work undergone in the previous few months, and was presented to a Weekly Board Meeting at the Royal Free once completed. The book also contains the reports of the subsequent Almoners up until the year 1913. This paper however, is concerned only with the reports of Miss Stewart, in order to address both the initial and perceived role of the original Almoner in relation to the actual day to day activities she undertook.  By the time she resigned in 1899, Miss Stewart had interviewed thousands of patients as to their financial standing, made countless visits to people homes in order to check their means and to follow up on their progress, and continually remodelled the classification as to who should be made to pay for medical treatment.

The Almoners book is abundant with information as to the occupation, earnings, demographics and living conditions of the thousands of patients interviewed at the Royal Free Hospital. The findings of the Almoner are therefore crucial in understanding the quality of life possessed by those people who attend the Royal Free for medical assistance. Moreover, the Almoner’s reports are also telling as to Miss Stewart’s conception of the patients, and in turn, of her opinion as to the amount of abuse the system suffered at their hands.  Overall, this paper will examine the appointment, role, authority, and findings of Miss Stewart in order to create an understanding of the life, work, and legacy of the first hospital Almoner.

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Going Underground: Travel Beneath the Metropolis 1863-2013
Christoph Lueder
The London Tube Map as Shared Public Diagram
18 January 2013
Map of the London Underground (wikipedia) - not the Harry Beck version

Map of the London Underground (wikipedia) – not the Harry Beck version

Abstract: Harry Beck’s seminal London Tube Map, in over 80 years of use and alteration since its inception in 1931, has provided an indispensible tool for navigation to tourists and locals. It may have become one of the most widely recognized diagrammatic representation of any city. As a diagram, it not only is a tool for navigation, but also, paraphrasing Anthony Vidler, an instrument of thought about the city as well as a mirror of thought. Comments and early sketches of Beck, such as the ‘spoof diagram’ suggesting analogy to electrical circuit boards, evoke what Paul Elliman has termed ‘the modernist vision of the city as an efficient machine’. However, in its various incarnations and re-inventions, the London Tube Map has been invested with memory, meaning and poetics by its users. It has been re-labelled, re-configured, and re-conceptualized by advertisers, artists, designers and theorists, while remaining recognizable and retaining graphic coherence. Unlike aboveground London, which too has been a subject of seminal maps, but has resisted conceptualization as a single, shared public image, the London Underground is embedded in public imagination as a network diagram.

This paper will examine processes of appropriation of the Tube Map against alternate attempts at diagramming urban networks such as Situationist maps of Paris. A series of semi-structured interviews incorporating sketched diagrams of above and below ground London will be evaluated in order to situate the London Tube Map in the context of urban theory and the practice of urban life.

Biography: Christoph Lueder is a graduate of the University of Stuttgart in architecture and urbanism where he has also taught. He practiced with Behnisch & Partners as well as Auer + Weber in Stuttgart before setting up his own office in Zurich whil teaching and researching at ETH. In the UK he has taught at Canterbury School of Architecture and currently researches on the roles of diagrams in architecture and culture and teaches at Kingston University.

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Going Underground: Travel Beneath the Metropolis 1863-2013
18 January 2013
Carlos López Galviz
Electricity Underground: the politics of a new technology in London and Paris at the turn of the twentieth century

800px-Electric_railway_train

Abstract: Using electricity in railway operation became a real option towards the end of the nineteenth century. Cities were, generally, the main recipients and instigators of its introduction as the new technology was to help alleviate the often insufficient provision of means of urban transport. A clear contrast would emerge between London and Paris in terms of how the new technology was introduced around this time. In Paris, electric traction was a structural part of the conception and construction of the Métropolitain. To a large extent the city railway network was the result of the possibilities the new technology provided. In London, the introduction of electricity was also a matter of whether and how to transfer from one technology to another as the steam-operated lines of the Metropolitan and District had been open to passenger services since the 1860s. By the 1890s, when the City and South London (later part of the Northern Line) began operating the first section of its line, electric traction demonstrated the possibilities but also the difficulties inherent in the adoption of the new technology. The transformation was gradual, irregular, and subject to conditions which obstructed rather than facilitated the design of a system such as the one built in Paris. The introduction of electric traction in the operation of city railways was largely the result of the political and business cultures inherent in two different contexts: whereas competition and the business interests seemed to predominate in London, the definition of the public interest would become the most significant condition prior to the execution of any plan in Paris.

 

Biography: Carlos is an architect and historian with experience conducting academic and applied research in urban and rural sustainable planning, comparative metropolitan history and the sociology of everyday life. His DPhil thesis (University of London, 2009) looked at the transformation of London and Paris between c.1830 and 1910 through the lens of the Underground and the Métro. The monograph Cities, Railways, Modernities: London, Paris and the Nineteenth Century (in preparation) draws partly on this and expands on the issues around traffic congestion and liberal governmentality. He is Adjunct Lecturer at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, University of London, Dartmouth College and the University of Southern California.

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Going Underground: Travel Beneath the Metropolis 1863-2013 conference
17 January 2013
Richard Dennis
Letting off steam: the perils and possibilities of underground travel in Victorian and Edwardian London

Abstract: Operating steam-hauled trains underground, even with locomotives designed to condense their own steam, was always going to cause problems. This paper focuses on some key episodes in the early history of the Metropolitan and Metropolitan District Railways: the question of whether smoking should be allowed on trains and platforms, hotly debated in the late 1860s and early 1870s; the attempt by the District to provide adequate ventilation in the late 1870s and early 1880s, including controversies over the siting of Mansion House and Mark Lane Stations and the construction of additional ventilators on public land in Embankment Gardens and Queen Victoria Street just at the time when the company was also selling land which could have been used for ventilation; and the Board of Trade investigation into ventilation on the Metropolitan in the 1890s which attempted to force the companies to adopt electric traction. Each episode can also be read as a debate, not only about regulation in public and private space, but also about class interest: the rights and responsibilities of working-class, ‘gentlemen’ and female passengers underground, and of all commuters and railway employees underground compared to those of pedestrians and road users above ground.

A steam train which carried passengers in the 19th Century has returned to the Great Portland Street tube station on a journey to mark 150 years since the first London Underground journey.(wikipedia)

A steam train which carried passengers in the 19th Century has returned to the Great Portland Street tube station on a journey to mark 150 years since the first London Underground journey.(wikipedia)

Biography: Richard Dennis is Professor of Human Geography at University College London. He is the author of Cities in Modernity: Representations and Productions of Metropolitan Space, 1840-1930 (Cambridge University Press, 2008) and of numerous essays and book chapters about 19th- and early 20th-century London, especially focused on housing (in model dwellings, in the East End, and in mansion flats) and on the city as represented by the novelist, George Gissing, who was fascinated – and usually horrified – by all things modern, including the Metropolitan Railway. His essay on ‘Mapping Gissing’s Workers in the Dawn’ (The Gissing Journal, 2010) has been republished in Ross Bradshaw (ed), Maps (Five Leaves, 2011). Most recently, Dennis has contributed essays on ‘ Victoria Street in theory and practice: scenes from the governmentality of nineteenth-century London’ in Matthew Davies and Jim Galloway (eds), London and Beyond (IHR, 2012), and ‘Urbanising experiences’ in Martin Hewitt (ed), The Victorian World (Routledge, 2012); and he is co-editor, with Carlos Galviz and Sam Merrill, of a forthcoming special issue of The London Journal devoted to ‘150 Years of the London Underground’ (for publication in 2013).

To listen to this podcast click here.

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Metropolitan History
16 January 2013
Robin Woolven
The rise and fall of John Sperni, Mayor of St Pancras, 1937-1938

 

St Pancras (wikipedia)

St Pancras (wikipedia)

John Sperni was mayor of the St Pancras municipal Borough during the 1930s.  He began life as an impoverished Italian immigrant, but slowly worked his way up through the construction industry until he was eventually elected mayor.   The year was fairly successful but after only a short while cracks began to appear.  Sperni came to odds with the members of his party (the Conservatives) and became viewed with suspicion as holding fascists views. 

Robin Woolven recounts the context in which Sperni lived and worked in local politics.  Part of his source material is the diary of Anthony Heap who, himself, had fascist leanings (although he was never a member).  Heap recorded many of the encounters with Sperni and the views of other councillors.  Another source is a large file held by MI5 on Sperni revealing early concerns that he could be a problem.  Not only was he Italian born and a potential fascist, but accusations were rife about corruption both when he had worked in the construction industry and as his time as Mayer.  During the Second World War, Sperni was arrested as a potential undesirable alien.  After 21 months internment, Sperni won his freedom, but the Advisary committee were far from convinced by any of the claims that he had made in his defence.  Sperni’s attempt to place all the blame on his son, for example – who had since escaped to Rome – failed when it was shown that he did in fact have contact with him (something which Sperni had denied).  This podcast is a look, then, at the brief career of John Sperni and the wider context of British concerns about alien nationals within London.

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Going Underground: Travel Beneath the Metropolis 1863-2013

Chancery Lane

Chancery Lane

Ximena Alarcón

Listening and Sounding in the London Underground: sonic memories as embodiments of technological infrastructure

ABSTRACT: From 2004 to 2005, I undertook ethnographic research with twenty-four London Underground commuters regarding memories left by this sound environment during their routine journeys (Alarcón, 2007). I was interested in their memories as remnants of subjective experience, and also, in the commonality of these memories as a reflection of a collective aural memory. I understood the commuters’ process of remembering as a “mediated action” (Werstch, 2002), mediated, in this case, by the technological infrastructure in the underground. The concept of soundscape (Schafer 1984; Truax 2001) was used to describe certain aspects of the experience; however, I found it insufficient to encompass the varied dimensions of subjective listening experience and its cultural significance. In this paper, I am revisiting these commuters’ accounts, from the perspective of remembering and listening processes, in a wider, holistic manner. Nourished by railway and subterranean environments interdisciplinary studies (Schivelbusch 1986; Pike 2007; Williams 2008), and approaches to both outer and inner listening (Augoyard 2005; Oliveros 2005), I suggest that commuters’ sonic memories are embodiments of the technological infrastructure, which is reflected in their remembered sounds, in their perception of space and time while travelling, and in social, symbolic and political connotations that shape their auralization. Derived from further comparative studies with commuters’ memories from Mexico and Paris metros, the internet-based interface “Sounding Underground” acts as a disembodied technological environment to allow one to listen to everyday narratives from a distance, acknowledging their contrasts, and commonalities, while opening a path for transcendence of our technological condition.

 

Ximena Alarcón biography

Ximena Alarcón is a new media artist who focuses on listening to social context related sound, connecting it to individual and collective memories. She completed a PhD in Music, Technology and Innovation at De Montfort University and was awarded with The Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellowship 2007-2009 to develop “Sounding Underground” at the Institute of Creative Technologies. There, in 2010, she worked as a Programme Leader for the Masters in Creative Technologies. Deep Listening practice and telematic musical performance are current interests that expand both the connections to other territories and the social and aesthetic possibilities of working with the migratory experience. Since October 2011, she works in Creative Research into Sound Arts Practice – CRiSAP, at the University of the Arts London, as a Research Fellow, developing her project “Networked Migrations – listening to and performing the in-between space”.

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Going Underground: Travel Beneath the Metropolis 1863-2013

Piers Connor

“A Job For Life” Changes seen in a 50-year career on London Underground 1916-1966

ABSTRACT: In August 1966, when the author was working as a “Motorman” (a train driver) for London Underground, one of his train crew colleagues, a train guard named George Balaam, retired after 50 years service. He told the author he had started as “a boy” at the age of 15 years in August 1916. Although he didn’t make it clear at the time of the conversation, he would have been a junior porter, signal box boy or messenger at that age. After three years, he became a “gateman” on the Piccadilly Line and remained as train crew for the rest of his employment. During that 50 years, there was much change but there was also much that remained unchanged. This paper looks at the 50 years of George’s employment and describes both the constants and the changes that took place technologically and socially on the London Underground during that period.

(wikipedia)

(wikipedia)

Piers Connor

Piers Connor is a senior international railway professional with extensive management expertise and front line experience in rail project development, planning, design, maintenance, operations and manufacturing in Europe, Middle East, USA, South Africa and Asia. He has a wide ranging recent consultancy portfolio in the UK and overseas. Experience of projects for both existing and new railway systems around the world including London, US, Hong Kong, Singapore, Bangkok and Taiwan. Publications include several books and articles about rolling stock history and railway delevopment and he is visiting lecturer in a number of universities in the UK. Piers worked for London Underground for 25 years and has studied and researched its history over many years. He obtained his MSc in Railway Systems Engineering at the University of Sheffield, and has professional membership of Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport, member of Institute of Railway Operators and is lead tutor for Engineering module in Institute of Railway Operators degree course. Now employed as part time senior lecturer at the University of Birmingham and studying part time for a PhD.

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