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Churchill History Lecture Series: Rebuilding Britain's Blitzed Cities: Hopeful Dreams, Stark Realities – Catherine Flinn

01 May 2019
Location: Jock Colville Hall, Churchill College
Start time: 17:30
End time: 19:00

Many British cities were devastated by bombing during the Second World War and faced stark economic dilemmas concerning reconstruction planning and implementation after 1945. In spite of the many plans made, very few were implemented and construction starts took over ten years from the height of the German bombing campaign. Why was this? How did politicians, civil servants and local authorities attempt to manage the reconstruction which still impacts the cities we live in today? Rebuilding Britain's Blitzed Cities examines the underlying processes and pressures, especially financial and bureaucratic, which shaped postwar urban Britain. The book integrates in-depth economic and political analyses of Britain's blitzed cities with architectural planning for the first time. It examines early reconstruction arrangements, the postwar economic apparatus and the challenges of postwar physical planning across the country, while providing insightful case studies from the cities of Hull, Exeter and Liverpool.

In this talk Catherine Flinn will give an overview of the conflicting ideologies and how they came up against political and economic constraints, resulting in the oft-criticised realities of reconstruction in postwar Britain. She will illustrate how her work highlights the importance of economic and political factors for understanding the British postwar built environment.

After a degree in landscape architecture at UC Berkeley, Dr Flinn worked for Skidmore Owings and Merrill Architects & Engineers in London during the infrastructure planning for Canary Wharf and the final build-outs at Broadgate. She then took degrees at UCL and the Architectural Association in architectural and garden history before returning to the US to work in architecture and planning. After ten years of reading British political history for fun, she returned to the UK and completed an MA and PhD at Oxford Brookes in history. The book being launched is Dr Flinn's first monograph. She has previously published in several international journals and has appeared on BBC television, as well as several American stations and prominent YouTube channels, to discuss her work. She is currently an Associate Lecturer at Oxford Brookes University.

Rebuilding Britain's Blitzed Cities


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