Transport and suburban development in Battersea, Wandsworth, & Putney - 1830 to 1914

Smith, John Ernest (1987). Transport and suburban development in Battersea, Wandsworth, & Putney - 1830 to 1914. MPhil thesis The Open University.



Between 1830 and 1914 London grew dramatically both in population and extent; the same period a system of public transport was established that brought speedy travel within the reach of the majority of the population. In this period the parishes of Battersea, Wandsworth and Putney, which lie south-west from Westminster on the south bank of the Thames, became an integral part of the metropolis, and they shared in all the technological improvements in transport that took place at this time. The massive suburban development of the nineteenth century was not mainly the result of improved travel facilities rather such facilities were only provided when prior house building had created a large body of potential passengers. Most of the railways opened in this period were built as part of main lines whose principal business was from freight or from long distance passengers. Even when a line was promoted to encourage house building, the houses were not built until land closer to London was used up. Of the other forms of transport the horse omnibus was restricted to a middle-class clientele by high fares, and the river steamers, although cheap, were of only limited value because of the seasonal nature of the service. The need to generate profits confined the horse-drawn tramcars to areas already well stocked with houses, and the efforts of the L.C.C. to push the electrified tram: ways into undeveloped localities was hampered by middle-class opposition. Although improvements in transport assisted in the process of urban development, they were not its prime cause. The timing and nature of urban growth were influenced by many factors which vary in importance from estate to estate; these factors included the pattern of landownership and the nature of local tenures, the policies of landowners and the course of the national and metropolitan building cycles. The ultimate character of the suburbs was controlled by fundamental influences such as the type of development that had already occurred in adjacent, older parts of the city, and by the local topography, especially by the height of land above sea level.

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