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The Making of a London Suburb


Price: £14.00


by Martin Spence

Penge is an unpretentious, unremarkable, resolutely unfashionable railway suburb, adrift in the low-rise sprawl of south-east London. It is an ordinary little place. But its ordinariness is precisely the point of this book, because the histories of ordinary little places like Penge are packed with interest, drama, and insights into the world in which we live.

This is not an exercise in 'local history' as that term is often understood. It is not a miscellany of recollections of bygone days, nor is it a chronicle of colourful local characters, events or anecdotes. It is, instead, a study of the transformation of the local landscape during the key period from the late C18th to the late C19th when Penge was transformed from a semi-rural hamlet into a thoroughly urban railway suburb. Its focus is upon the changing uses to which land was put and the changing ways in which land was exploited as this transformation took place. It argues that this process, the urbanisation of Penge, can only be understood as part and parcel of London's emergence as the first capitalist world-city.

This book considers the emergence of this little suburb as part of a wider process of capitalist urban development. It is divided into two parts. Part I sets out a broad theoretical and historical framework, Part II tells local story in detail.

. "an interesting 'little book' in its spirited approach to a complex set of broad social and economic urban issues (and its muscular turn of phrase) and it is a good example of a particular kind of local history that seeks to place itself in wider historical contexts." Urban History.

Illustrated with contemporary photos plus maps

144 pages