Twelve shades of grey: encountering urban colour in the street in British provincial towns, c. 1945–1970

Faire, Lucy and Mchugh, Denise (2019). Twelve shades of grey: encountering urban colour in the street in British provincial towns, c. 1945–1970. Urban History, 46(2) pp. 288–308.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S096392681800038X

Abstract

This article examines the neglected sensory experience of visual physical colour in the city/town centre or what is now referred to as the Central Business District. It focuses on the post-war period when reconstruction, town planning, new architecture, novel materials and technologies, and investment were all transforming British city centres. The research uses film, photographs, planning documents, oral history and social media reminiscences to research the users’ experience of colour in the city centre streets. It argues that, although new materials in construction opened up the possibilities of bright, ‘non-natural’ colours in the urban built environment, the visual experience of colour was found mainly in the ephemera of everyday life. Furthermore, it argues that colour was an important component in constructing people's sense of place and belonging in the city.

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