Uncover The History Of London's Boroughs With Tony Travers

London's Boroughs at 50 by Tony Travers ★★★★☆

Rachel Holdsworth
By Rachel Holdsworth Last edited 26 months ago
Uncover The History Of London's Boroughs With Tony Travers London's Boroughs at 50 by Tony Travers 4

In this history of the first 50 years of London's boroughs, Tony Travers has managed something that should be impossible: made municipal government interesting.

Yes, it's been 50 years since London was reorganised into the 32 boroughs (plus the City of London; an anomaly which Travers covers with a typically wry eye). An opening concise skip through London's organisational history, going back to the Romans, shortly gives way to a borough-by-borough history.

Apart from the novelty of seeing Sutton and Merton given the same amount of space as Camden and Hackney, each section is densely packed with politics and interesting nuggets particular to each area, as well as an overview of how each borough's changed over the last half century. We were also chuffed at the amount of coverage dedicated to housing.

We also loved the alternative histories that round off the book, as Travers considers what might have been. What if London had been organised as 51 boroughs, or five? What if we'd never built all those housing estates in the 60s and 70s? What if that horrible idea for motorways through the city centre had actually happened?

A final word on the author: if there's anyone more qualified to write about London's organisation and politics, we've yet to hear of them. Tony Travers is not only a professor at the LSE, advisor to various government select committees and go-to person for media commentary, he has a highly personable writing style and a dry sense of humour which many fellow academics lack.

50 Years of London's Boroughs by Tony Travers is available from Biteback Publishing in hardback format (RRP £25) or eBook (RRP £20); discounts currently available.

Last Updated 22 December 2015

Piggles Monroe

Why is it a "novelty" to see Sutton and Merton given as much space as Camden or Hackney? Just because these places aren't as wealthy or middle class doesn't mean that their historical value is any less than that of other boroughs. What a nasty cynical thing to write.