The experience of suburban modernity

How private transport changed interwar London

By Michael Law

The experience of suburban modernity


  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-0-7190-8919-0
  • Pages: 256
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £80.00
  • Published Date: October 2014
  • BIC Category: BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Industries / Automobile Industry, HISTORY / Social History, Transport Planning & Policy, Humanities / Social & cultural history, Social & cultural history, History
  • Series: Studies in Popular Culture


The experience of suburban modernity looks at the history of the London suburbs in the interwar years. It shows that, contrary to those accounts that portray suburbia as static and boring, these suburbs were in fact at the heart of the adoption of private transport and new mobilities. Wealthier middle-class suburbanites enjoyed driving at speed on new arterial roads, visiting roadhouses for a transgressive night out, taking five-shilling flights from the local airport, and joining cycling and motorcycle clubs. All this fun came at a price for some in the form of thousands of deaths in road accidents, plane crashes on suburban housing and in the despoiling of the countryside through road development.

This book will be welcomed by academics and students working in suburban studies, historical geography and interwar British history and can also be enjoyed by anyone interested in the history of London.


Part I: Introduction
1. Driving on the Kingston Bypass
Part II: Technologies
2. The car indispensable
3. 'In the joyous rush'- Bicycles and motorcycles
4. Suburban air-mindedness
Part III: Roads
5. New mobilities in construction
6. Negotiating modernity - Beautification and contestation
Part IV: Journeys
7. Pleasure and peril at the suburban roadhouse
8. Modern motoring and the enclosed body
9. Accidents and suburban modernity
10. Everyday driving - Mobile consumerism and commuting
Part V: Conclusion
11. Modern Marvels
Appendix: Car adoption rate and number of cars in Greater London for 1938


Michael John Law is a Research Fellow at the University of Westminster

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