Graeme Shankland: a Sixties Architect-Planner and the Political Culture of the British Left
Published online by Cambridge University Press: 12 January 2016
Graeme Shankland (1917–84) conforms in many ways to the popular image of a 1960s planner with his lyrical advocacy of inner city motorways and his suggestions of enormous programmes of renewal in ‘outworn’ Victorian city centres. As an advocate of the belief that ‘our problem in Britain is that it is our generation which must completely renew most of the older parts of our larger towns and cities’, Shankland was an important representative of what Peter Mandler has described as a new ‘more dirigiste version of urban planning’, an approach that had ‘little sentiment about historic townscapes’. As Mandler put it, ‘city centres were to be made “liveable” not by preserving the familiar (which was deemed grey and boring) but by projecting a vision of modern vitality.’ Shankland’s plan for Liverpool is notorious. Gavin Stamp described it as a ‘nightmare’ which was mercifully only ever partly completed. Raphael Samuel labelled him ‘the butcher of Liverpool’. Simon Jenkins’s antipathy towards planners developed after viewing Shankland’s Liverpool plan: ‘I was looking at Bomber Harris. This was the end of the beautiful city and that reaction has infused everything I have thought since about planning and architecture.’ At best, Paul Barker saw him as misguided: ‘I think, for example, of the destruction of the centre of Liverpool by well-meaning planners like Graeme Shankland.’
- Research Article
- Architectural History , Volume 57 , 2014 , pp. 393 - 422
- Copyright © Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain 2014
1 Shankland, Graeme, ‘British Towns and Cities: the New Chance’, The Listener, 1890 (17 June 1965), p. 892.Google Scholar
2 Mandler, Peter, ‘New Towns for Old’, in Moments of Modernity: Reconstructing Britain, 1945–1964, ed. Conekin, Becky (London, 1999), pp. 208–27 (p. 221).Google Scholar
6 Barker, Paul, ‘Non Plan Revisited: Or the Real Way Cities Grow’, Journal of Design History, 12.2 (1999), pp. 95–110 (p. 108).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
7 Shankland, Graeme, ‘Picture of Britain 1959’, Architectural Design, 30 (January 1960), p. 49.Google Scholar
10 Rowe, Colin, ‘Le Corbusier: Utopian Architect’, The Listener, 1559 (12 February 1959), p. 289.Google Scholar
11 See e.g. ‘ Townscape Revisited’, special issue of The Journal of Architecture, 17.5 (October 2012).Google Scholar
12 See Banham, Reyner, ‘Revenge of the Picturesque: English Architectural Polemics, 1945–1965’, in Concerning Architecture: Essays on Architectural Writers and Writing Presented to Nikolaus Pevsner, ed. Summerson, John (London, 1968), pp. 265–73;Google Scholar Bullock, Nicholas, Building the Post-War World, Modern Architecture and Reconstruction in Britain (London and New York, 2002), pp. 95–130.Google Scholar
13 Klemek, Christopher, The Transatlantic Collapse of Urban Renewal, Posiwar Urbanism from New York to Berlin (Chicago, 2011).Google Scholar
14 Banham, Reyner, ‘The Embalmed City’, New Statesman, 12 (12 April 1963), pp. 528–30 (p. 530).Google Scholar
15 Powers, Alan, Britain: Modern Architectures in History (London, 2007), p. 127 Google Scholar; Harwood, Elain, ‘White Light/White Heat: Rebuilding England’s Provincial Towns and Cities in the Sixties’, Twentieth Century Architecture, 6 (2002), pp. 56–70.Google Scholar
16 Black, Lawrence, The Political Culture of the Left in Affluent Britain, 1951–64 (London, 2003).Google Scholar
17 Crosland, C.A.R., ‘The Use of Land and Urban Planning’, in The Conservative Enemy, A Programme of Radical Reform for the 1960s (London, 1962), pp. 183–96 (p. 184).Google Scholar
18 Ibid., p. 191.
19 Ibid., p. 196.
20 Ibid., p. 195.
21 However, he does emerge as a significant figure in the two overviews of the period. Lionel Esher, Broken Wave (London, 1981);Google ScholarPubMed John R. Gold, , The Practice of Modernism: Modern Architects and Urban Transformations, 1954–1972 (London, 2007).Google Scholar He does not have an Oxford Dictionary of National Biography entry.
23 ‘Obituary: Graeme Shankland’, Architects’ Journal, 180 (28 November 1984), p. 36;Google Scholar Kay, John, ‘Graeme Shankland’, Journal of William Morris Studies, 6.2 (1984–85), p. 30.Google Scholar
24 The Letters of Lewis Mumford and Frederic J. Osborn: a Transatlantic Dialogue 1938–1970, ed. Hughes, M. (Bath, 1971), p. 312.Google Scholar
25 For a defence of the validity of using plans as a source for understanding ‘ambitions and assumptions’, rather than for how they directly affect the built environment, see Ortolano, Guy, ‘Planning the Urban Future in 1960s Britain’, Historical Journal, 54 (2011), pp. 477–507.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
26 Colin Buchanan & Partners, Cardiff Development and Transportation Study (1966); Buchanan, Colin & Partners, Bath: a Study in Conservation (London, 1968).Google Scholar
27 Walter Bor, Liverpool Interim Planning Policy, Statement (March 1965); Bor, Walter, ‘A Question of Urban Identity’, in Planning and Architecture, ed. Sharp, Dennis (London, 1967).Google Scholar
28 Burns, Wilfred, Newcastle, a Study in Replanning at Newcastle Upon Tyne (London, 1967);Google Scholar Burns, Wilfred, New Towns for Old, the Technique of Urban Renewal (London, 1963);Google Scholar Burns, Wilfred, Newcastle Upon Tyne Development Plan Review ([London], 1963).Google Scholar
29 Esher, Viscount, York, a Study in Conservation (London, 1968);Google Scholar Brett, Lionel, ‘Renewing the Cities’, The Times, 3 July 1961.Google Scholar For his Guildhall scheme in Portsmouth, which resembles Shankland’s Bolton scheme, see London, RIBA Drawings Collection and Archives, Brett Box 39/3.
30 Smigielski, Konrad, Leicester Traffic Plan ([Leicester], 1964).Google Scholar See also Smigielski, Konrad, ‘Leicester’, in City Centre Redevelopment, ed. Holliday, John (London, 1963).Google Scholar
31 Powell, Chamberlin & Bon, , Barbican Redevelopment 1959: Report to the Court of Common Council of the Corporation ([London], 1959 )Google Scholar; also Proposal for Redevelopment in the Central Part of Weston-Super-Mare ([London], 1961);Google Scholar Harwood, Elain, Chamberlin Powell and Bon (London, 2011), pp. 66–81.Google Scholar
32 Wilson, Hugh and Womersley, Lewis, Expansion of Northampton: Consultant’s Proposals for Designation (London, 1966);Google Scholar Wilson, Hugh and Womersley, Lewis, Northampton Master Plan ([Northampton], 1966);Google Scholar Hugh Wilson and Lewis Womersley, Manchester Education Precinct; the Final Report of the Planning Consultants (1967).
33 Goss, Anthony, Architect and Town Planning: a Report Presented to the Council of the RIBA (London, 1965), p.9.Google Scholar
34 Looking biographically at those beginning to practice in the 1950s, those architects that were evidently intoxicated by Corbusian visions tended to become art-architects in the 1960s, rather than going on to gain planning qualifications. For example: Howell, Killick, Partridge and Amis; Colin St John Wilson; James Stirling; Alison and Peter Smithson.
35 Gunn, Simon, ‘The Rise and Fall of British Urban Modernism: Planning Bradford, circa 1945–1970’, Journal of British Studies, 49.4 (2010), pp. 849–69.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
36 Bullock, Nicholas, ‘West Ham and the Welfare State 1945–1970: a Suitable Case for Treatment’, in The Architecture of the Welfare State, ed. Avermaete, Tom, Mark Swenarton and Dirk van den Heuvel (forthcoming).Google Scholar
39 Shankland, Graeme, ‘New Role of Urban Design’, RIBA journal, 72.2 (February 1965), pp. 69–74.Google Scholar
41 See, e.g., Shankland, Graeme, ‘The Next Ten Years’, Town Planning Review, 43.3 (July 1977), p. 279;Google Scholar Shankland, Graeme, ‘William Morris as Designer’, in Morris, William, News from Nowhere and Selected Writings (London, 1962).Google Scholar
42 ‘Planning Overlord’, The Guardian, 22 February 1962, p. 19.
43 Shankland, Graeme, ‘Artistic Standards of the C.W.S.’, The Listener, 448 (11 August 1937), p. 310.Google Scholar
44 Hertford, County Archives, DE/FJO/B159/61, letter from Shankland to Osborn (9 [March 1939]).
45 London, National Archives [hereafter NA], KV 2/3108-3110, ‘Graeme Shankland’.
46 Ward, Stephen V., ‘Soviet Communism and the British Planning Movement: Rational Learning or Utopian Imagining?’, Planning Perspectives, 2.4 (2012), pp. 499–524.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
47 See, e.g., ‘Green and Pleasant Land — For How Long’, Daily Worker, 13 July 1955, p. 2.
48 See Robinson, Andrew, The Man Who Deciphered Linear B: the Story of Michael Ventris (London, 2002), pp. 48–59.Google Scholar
49 See London, RIBA Drawings and Archives Collection, VOS/ 90 Oliver Cox, ‘Italian Journal, Summer 1948’.
50 Shankland, Graeme, ‘Architecture in a Welfare State’, The Listener, 1204 (27 March 1952), p. 506.Google Scholar
52 Shankland, Graeme, ‘Dead Centre: the Crisis of Planning and the Future of Cities — 2’, Architectural Association Journal, n.v. (March 1957), p. 194.Google Scholar
53 For Swedish influence, see Carolin, Peter, ‘Sense, Sensibility and Tower Blocks: the Swedish Influence on Post-War Housing in Britain’, in Twentieth Century Architecture, 9, Housing the Twentieth Century Nation (2008), pp. 98–112.Google Scholar
56 See Gold, , Practice of Modernism, pp. 98–100 Google Scholar, and ‘Realisation of the Living Suburb: The Boston Manor Project …’, Architecture and Building (London), 214 (September, October and November 1958).Google Scholar
57 See Gold, , Practice of Modernism, pp. 151–54.Google Scholar Cox subsequently joined the Ministry of Housing Development Group.
58 London, Metropolitan Archives [hereafter LMA], GLC/DG/PRB/22/097, Planning of a New Town Hook.
59 Muthesius, Stefan, The Postwar University, Utopianist Campus and College (New Haven and London, 2000), pp. 92 and 171.Google Scholar
60 Partnership, Shankland Cox, Winsford Plan, Proposals for Town Expansion (Chester, 1967).Google Scholar
63 NA, Prem 11/3128, letter from Rab Butler to Macmillan, 5 April 1960.
64 Young, Ken and Garside, Patricia, Metropolitan London: Politics and Urban Change, 1837–1981 (London, 1981), pp. 289–91Google Scholar, and Gold, Practice of Modernism, p. 151.
65 LMA, LCC/AR/CB/01/155, ‘New town site search - history of investigations leading to selection of the Hook, Hants site’.
66 For example, Wolf, Ivor de, ‘Italian Townscape’, Architectural Review, 131 (June 1962), p. 383 Google Scholar; Wilson, Hugh, ‘New Towns: What Next?’ Twentieth Century, 172.1014 (Autumn 1962), pp. 98–106 Google Scholar; Knight, Timothy et al., Let Our Cities Live (London, 1960).Google Scholar
68 Royal Commission on the Distribution of the Industrial Population, Report (London, 1940), p. 8.Google Scholar
69 See London, RIBA Drawings and Archives Collection, Brl/4/1.3, letter from Shankland to Lionel Brett, 18 November 1956. For SPUR, see Gold, John, ‘A SPUR to Action: the Society for the Promotion of Urban Renewal, “anti-scatter” and the Crisis of Reconstruction’, Planning Perspectives, 27.2 (2012), pp. 199–223.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
70 LMA, LMA ACC/1888/152, Lionel Brett addressing a meeting at the Housing Centre, 4 February 1959.
73 Architectural Association journal, n.v. (April 1962), p. 259. See also Shankland, Graeme, ‘Lessons of the New Towns’, The Times, 3 July 1961, p. 4.Google Scholar
74 See Otto Saumarez Smith, ‘Central Government and Town Centre Redevelopment in Britain, 1959–66’, Historical journal (forthcoming).
75 NA, HLG 130/7, Report of the Ministry of Housing and Local Government 1960, pp. 88–89. 49
76 See Young, Michael, ‘Must We Abandon Our Cities’, Socialist Commentary (September 1954), p. 251 Google Scholar; also Watson, J.G., ‘More Money — More Conservative?’, Socialist Commentary (April 1962); also Black, Political Culture, pp. 118–23.Google Scholar
78 Ibid., p. 178.
79 Buchanan, Colin, Traffic in Towns, A Study of the Long Term Problems of Traffic in Urban Areas (London, 1963), p. 167.Google Scholar
81 See Moran, Joe, ‘Imagining the Street in Post-War Britain’, Urban History, 39 (2012), pp. 166–86CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Crinson, Mark, ‘The Uses of Nostalgia: Stirling and Gowan’s Preston Housing’, Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, 65.2 (June 2006), pp. 216–37.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
82 Lynn, Jack, ‘Sheffield’, The Architect’s Year Book, IX, The Pedestrian and the City, ed. Lewis, David (London, 1965), p. 59.Google Scholar
84 ‘Seminar on the Planning of the Project for Hook New Town’, Architectural Association Journal, n.v. (April 1962), pp. 254–60 (p. 259).Google Scholar
85 ‘Hook Plan, Did the Team Think?’, Architects’ Journal, 135 (7 February 1962), p. 291.Google Scholar For the research itself, see Willmott, Peter, ‘Housing Density and Town Design in a New Town’, Town Planning Review, 33.2 (July 1962).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
86 Glass, Ruth, ‘Urban Sociology in Great Britain’ (1955), reprinted in Cliches of Urban Doom and Other Essays (Oxford, 1989), p. 39.Google Scholar
87 See LMA, LMA/4196, ‘Muriel Smith Papers’.
91 Ibid., p. 16.
92 Ibid., p. 17.
93 Ibid., p. 41.
94 Reyner Banham, Megastructure: Urban Futures of the Recent Past (London, 1976), p. 73.
95 In this it resembles Fred Pooley’s North Bucks New Town, another un-built new town of the period. See Ortolano, ‘Planning the Urban Future in 1960s Britain’.
97 The key document is the Urban Planning Group’s Planning Bulletin no. 1, Town Centres: Approach to Renewal (London, 1962). The Conservative Party at this moment was following One Nation and dirigiste policies. See Saumarez Smith, ‘Central Government and Town-Centre Redevelopment in Britain’, for the Conservative embrace of Modernism.
98 SirJoseph, Keith, Hansard, 669 (10 December 1962), cc 68.Google Scholar See also Joseph’s, Keith speech on ‘Planning for Growth’ to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors reprinted in The Chartered Surveyor, 96.1 (July 1963), p. 16.Google Scholar
102 Minogue, Joseph, ‘Rebuilding the Inner Cities’, The Guardian, 26 March 1962, p. 9.Google Scholar
103 ‘Mr Macmillan Hears Case for North-west: Lord Derby’s Four Main Points’, The Guardian, 3 July 1963, p. 1.Google Scholar
104 The Labour council under John Braddock was in fact far less amenable to Shankland than its Tory predecessor, although this changed when Labour councillor Bill Sefton took charge. See Amos, Francis J.C., ‘Liverpool’, in City Centre Redevelopment, ed. Holliday, John (London, 1973), pp. 175–206 (p. 182)Google Scholar; and Heffer, Eric, Never a Yes Man (London, 1991), p. 105.Google Scholar
105 Planner John Collins, architect David Gregory-Jones, surveyor Desmond Searle and traffic engineer Alan Proudlove.
107 Hughes, Quentin, Seaport, Architecture and Townscape in Liverpool (London, 1964), p. 86.Google Scholar
110 Liverpool City Centre Plan (Liverpool, 1965), p. 30.
111 See O’Hara, Glen, From Dreams to Disillusionment: Economic and Social Planning in 1960s Britain (London, 2006), pp. 206–08.Google Scholar
112 Burns, Wilfred, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne Development Plan Review (1963), p. 23 Google Scholar; Buchanan, Colin, Traffic in Towns (London, 1963), p. 43.Google Scholar
113 NA, HLG 79/1288, letter signed F.H. Littler, 21 March 1962, Inner Ring Road Redevelopment Proposals.
114 ‘Liverpool Tries to Catch Up 20 Years’, The Times, 6 April 1963, p. 9.Google Scholar See also Minogue, Joseph, ‘Grappling with Liverpool’s Slums’, The Guardian, 2 April 1962, p. 8.Google Scholar
115 Bor, , Liverpool Interim Planning Policy, Statement, p. 10.Google Scholar This copy was consulted in the collection of the Martin Centre for Architectural and Urban Studies at the University of Cambridge.
118 See ‘Socialists and Transport’, Socialist Commentary (April 1963) and ‘A New Britain’: Labour Party Manifesto 1964.
120 Shankland, Graeme, ‘The Central Area of Liverpool: Extracts from the Report on the Draft City Centre Map’, Town Planning Review, 35.2 (July 1964), pp. 105–33 (p. 117).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
121 Ibid., p. 122.
122 Graeme Shankland, Planning Consultant’s Report No. 7, Inner Motorway System (December 1962). This copy was consulted in the collection of the Martin Centre for Architectural and Urban Studies at the University of Cambridge.
124 NA, HLG 79 /1288, Inner Ring Road Redevelopment Proposals.
125 See Ritter, Paul, Planning for Man and Motor (Oxford, 1963), p. 161 Google Scholar; Smigielski, Leicester Traffic Plan; Burns, , Newcastle, a Study in Replanning, p. 25 Google Scholar; Wilson, Scott, Fitzpatrick, and Partners, , Report on a Highway Plan for Glasgow (Glasgow, 1965), p. 65 Google Scholar.
126 See Gold, John R., ‘The Making of a Megastructure: Architectural Modernism, Town Planning and Cumbernauld’s Central Area, 1955–75’, Planning Perspectives, 21.2 (April 2006), pp. 109–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
128 Graeme Shankland, Liverpool Planning Consultant’s Report, No. 8 (March 1963). This copy was consulted in the collection of the Martin Centre for Architectural and Urban Studies at the University of Cambridge.
129 Graeme Shankland, Planning Consultant’s Report, No. 10 (November 1963). This copy was consulted in the collection of the Martin Centre for Architectural and Urban Studies at the University of Cambridge.
131 Ibid., p. 14.
132 Stonehouse, Roger, Colin St John Wilson, Buildings and Projects (London, 2007), pp. 402–25.Google Scholar
134 Cullen, Gordon, ‘Townscape: a Liverpool Notebook’, The Architectural Review, 137 (1965), pp. 281–88 (p. 281).Google Scholar
138 Peter Elson, ‘Quentin Hughes: Obituary’, The Guardian, 17 May 2004.
140 Ibid., p. vii.
142 Briggs, Asa, in Victorian Cities (London, 1963)Google Scholar, discusses in the introduction the problems caused by traffic on the twentieth-century city as being analogous to the problems faced by congestion and disease in the nineteenth-century city. Shankland would have known Briggs through their authorship of the introductions to Morris, William, News from Nowhere and Selected Writings (London, 1962).Google Scholar
145 Wilson, Hugh and Womersley, Lewis, Change or Decay: Final Report of the Liverpool Inner Area Study (London, 1977), p. 136.Google ScholarPubMed
146 Liverpool Planning Department, High Buildings Policy (Liverpool, 1965), p. 35.Google ScholarPubMed
147 Ibid., p. 51.
148 Shankland, Graeme, ‘Introduction’, in Hughes, Quentin, Seaport, Architecture and Townscape in Liverpool (London, 1964), p. viii.Google Scholar
149 Graeme Shankland, Planning Consultant’s Report 10 (November 1963). See also Bor, Walter, ‘A Question of Urban Identity’, in Planning and Architecture, ed. Sharp, Dennis (London, 1967), p. 28.Google Scholar
150 Bianchini, Franco and Parkinson, Michael (eds), Cultural Policy and Urban Regeneration: the Western European Experience (Manchester, 1993).Google Scholar
152 Crosland, C.A.R., The Future of Socialism (London, 1956), p. 526 Google Scholar. The discourse was foreshadowed by Keynes, John Maynard, ‘Economic Possibilities of our Grandchildren’ (1930), The Collected Writings, 9: Essays in Persuasion (London, 1972), p. 328.Google Scholar
154 See Couch, Chris, City of Change and Challenge: Urban Planning and Regeneration in Liverpool (London, 2003)Google Scholar, and Shapely, Peter, ‘The Entrepreneurial City: the Role of Local Government and City-Centre Redevelopment in Post-War Industrial English Cities’, Twentieth Century British History, 22.4 (2011), pp. 16, 498–520.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
156 Heffer, Eric, ‘Planning and Politics: the Liverpool Example’, The Spectator, 27 July 1973, p. 8 Google Scholar; See also Heffer, , Never a Yes Man, p. 105.Google Scholar
157 Lane, Tony, ‘Liverpool — City of Harder Times to Come’, Marxism Today, 22 (November 1978), pp. 336–37.Google Scholar
158 Wilson and Womersley, Change or Decay.
159 Reynolds, Josephine P., ‘Shopping in the North-West’, Town Planning Review, 34.3 (October 1963), pp. 213–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
161 NA, PREM 11/4313, meeting with the Lancashire and Merseyside Industrial Development Association.
162 ‘Mr Graeme Shankland may Plan for Bolton Next’, The Guardian, 4 February 1964, p. 4.Google Scholar
166 ‘Schoolchildren are Helping to Plan the Town of the Future’, The Guardian, 15 July 964.
168 Nairn, ‘Urban Heart Surgery’.
173 Ibid., p. 22.
174 Ibid., p. 27.
175 ‘Mill Chimney as Symbol of the New Bolton in £2om Plan’, The Guardian, 5 August 1965, p. 4.Google Scholar
177 Ibid., p. 32.
179 Ibid., p. 73.
180 Ibid., p. 78.
183 Ibid., p. 33.
185 Nairn, Ian, ‘The Towns Behind the Teams’, The Listener, 2420 (21 August 1975), p. 240 Google Scholar. For another positive reaction, see Hudson, John ‘Bolton: Trotting Round the Centre’, The Guardian, 8 June 1973, p. 25 Google Scholar. See also Bolton and District Civic Trust, The Buildings of Bolton (Bolton, 1983).Google Scholar
188 For example, Bullock, Post-War World, and Ravetz, Alison, Rebuilding Cities (London, 1980).Google Scholar
189 Holford, William, ‘An Adventure in Architecture’, The Listener, 1250 (12 February 1953), p.257.Google Scholar
191 Shankland, Graeme, Willmott, Peter and Jordan, David, Inner London: Policies for Dispersal and Balance (London, 1977), p. 147–48.Google Scholar
192 Shankland, Graeme, ‘Why Trouble with Historic Towns?’ in UNESCO, Conservation of Cities (Paris, 1976), pp. 24–42.Google Scholar
193 ‘Confrontation in Boston: Jim Rouse v Jane Jacobs’, Architects’ Journal, 172 (5 November 1980), p. 879.Google Scholar
- Cited by