Revisioning and Rebuilding Britain’s War-Damaged Cities

Peter J. Larkham, David Adams

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This article presents an overview of Second World War bomb damage to British towns and cities and a systematic evaluation of the relationship between damage, revisioning, replanning, and actual reconstruction in a sample of cities—Bath, Birmingham, and Hull. Two were severely affected by aerial bombing as port/industrial targets, and the third for propaganda purposes as a historical city. Two had extensive plans produced by eminent consultants (both involving Patrick Abercrombie) but the city managers of the third did not support “big plans.” Birmingham, without a specific plan, rebuilt extensively and relatively quickly. Hull’s plan was disliked locally and virtually vanished. Bath was repaired rather than rebuilt. These contrasting experiences have shaped the contemporary city via subsequent generations of replanning (not all of which was implemented) and, in Birmingham’s case, the demolition of major reconstruction investments after relatively short lifespans. The article demonstrates the difficulty of conceptualising a generic approach to post‐catastrophe reconstruction and the problems of such large‐scale change over a short period for the longer‐term effective functioning of the city.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)169-181
Number of pages13
JournalUrban Planning
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 23 Feb 2023


  • Bath
  • Birmingham
  • Hull
  • post-war planning
  • rebuilding
  • reconstruction
  • UK
  • wartime bomb damage


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