Sunday, 10 April 2011

A History of London: The Urban Space

The title above was the subject of a talk given by Dr Simon Thurley at Mansion House last week. As a property and construction man The Lord Mayor has organised a series of three lectures focussing on a range of urban issues, with a particular focus on London and the City. Last week the lecture was specifically on why London and the City rose from being one of the smaller capital cities in Europe to become a dominant world City and by far the largest in Europe.

To have Simon Thurley address you is unalloyed pleasure. He is a leading architectural historian and the Chief Executive of English Heritage as well as being a writer and broadcaster and the Government's principal adviser on the historic environment in England. He has an enormous passion for his subject as well as a masterly grasp of it. He explained the factors which led to the growth and success of London and the City which included everything from its strength in exporting wool in medieval times, through the transformative effects on the redistribution of property after the dissolution of the monasteries, similar transformations after the great fire of London and the effect of the railways coming into London and into the City. His talk was rich in content, his slides fascinating, his enthusiasm infectious. I could cheerfully have listened to him for hours.

The next two lectures in this trilogy are on 18 July on 'The current challenges facing London in retaining its position as a leading working city'; and the 18th October on 'The future challenges and prospects facing global cities.' One can only hope that these next two are as good as the first one. Simon Thurley has set the bar very high.

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