Colonial cities
Valletta, Rangoon and new capitals
in The British Empire through buildings
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This chapter seeks to take little-noticed examples of colonial cities to explore insights into the processes recounted in the earlier chapters. Valletta is taken as an example of an island colony in Europe with a remarkable history, which the British took over during the Napoleonic wars and significantly modified as a naval base and staging post on the route to India. Rangoon is a very special case, since almost nothing has been published on this city because of the particular conditions of the post-Second World War history of Burma/Myanmar, yet it presents a particularly illuminating instance of the foundation and growth of a city together with the manner in which it is presented today. The creation of new capitals was an extraordinary phenomenon of the late British Empire and the rest of the chapter examines three of them: Canberra for the Commonwealth of Australia (founded in 1901), New Delhi, and Lusaka in Northern Rhodesia (Zambia). Canberra had a very slow and tortured origin and development, in some respects only coming into its own in the twenty-first century. New Delhi has received a great deal of attention, but it remains an intriguing case and some aspects of its creation and emergence as ‘heritage’ have been ignored. Lusaka is a highly significant case of an African new capital which offers many insights into imperial attitudes, the survival of extraordinary racial attitudes and the impractical belief in the continuing force of colonialism.

The British Empire through buildings

Structure, function and meaning

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