The builders
Honest artisans and crafty contractors
in The birth of modern London
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Dan Cruickshank has characterized the constructor of the Georgian speculative house as a builder rather than a craftsman. This chapter investigates who the craftsman was and the ways in which he operated in speculative development, an area in which architects were not involved as designers, although sometimes as developers and investors. It necessarily concentrates upon practice among the higher ranks of the building trades, although more information about the divisions and structures within those trades is needed for a fuller picture. Linda Clarke insists, as the result of a rigidly deterministic Marxist mode of analysis, that the building tradesman remained an artisan; full capitalism, based in her view. The master builder or building contractor is usually seen as a nineteenth century phenomenon, with Thomas Cubbitt in the early nineteenth century being seen as the first of a new breed.

The birth of modern London

The development and design of the city 1660–1720

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