Friday, 30 October 2009

London's Docklands: Fiona Rule

This book is well researched and well written. However, it fails to do its subject justice, as it is really a narrative - a time line of the history of London, which becomes ever more focussed on London's Docks as it progresses.

Beginning with Roman London, historically the book is faultless, and it fills in a lot of the gaps that most people seem to have about the Anglo-Saxon period of our history. But it is only towards the end, when we come to the early Victorian period that the pages come to life. By the end of the 19th century, more personal recollections begin to enter into the tale, and with this genre of book, these are always the most captivating of the details. The role of the workers in shaping the future of the docks is covered particularly well, and the reasons for the eventual decline of the docks is discussed without falling into the political bias that too often blights such discussion.

The book is subtitled A history of the lost quarter, and Rule has successfully placed the Docklands in its own space, albeit one that is, spatially speaking, in a constant state of flux. 7/10

Fiona Rule, London's Docklands, Ian Allen (2009).

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