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Improvisation in high places?

Setting the national framework for bussing

Olivier Esteves

Devised by a Conservative government, dispersal was finally introduced by a Labour government, under Harold Wilson (1964–70). This chapter analyses the national, broad framework to the introduction of dispersal, via White Papers, government publications and ministerial circulars. It investigates the various structural shortcomings to dispersal, such as the absence of a definition of ‘immigrant children’, the unscientific claim that when a schools had more than 30% immigrant children dispersal should be introduced, the difficulties involved in introducing ethnic statistics of immigrant children in schools, lastly the ministerial racial myopia which failed to anticipate the fact that Asian children would face racial bullying in white schools.

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Dispersing in diverse places

How the other LEAs fared

Olivier Esteves

This chapter analyses the different forms that dispersal took in the Local Education Authorities that introduced it besides Ealing (Southall) and Bradford. Blackburn presented a specific case in the sense that multiracial neighbourhoods were often situated near voluntary-aided schools, either Anglican or Roman Catholic. The problem was compounded by the activism of the National Front locally. Huddersfield and Halifax presented more ordinary cases, like West Bromwich, although in Huddersfield and West Bromwich the large proportion of (Anglophone) West Indian pupils made dispersal look more like an anomaly. Halifax put an end to bussing only in 1986–87. In Leicester, it was only the sudden influx of Ugandan Asians in 1972–73 which made the local authorities reluctantly introduce dispersal. In Bristol, the form dispersal took was radically different from elsewhere, and barely deserves the name. Lastly, the local situations of Wolverhampton, Walsall, Smethwick, Hounslow, Luton, Croydon and Dewsbury are presented.

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The “desegregation” of English schools

Bussing, race and urban space, 1960s–80s

Olivier Esteves

In 1960–62, a large number of white autochthonous parents in Southall became very concerned that the sudden influx of largely non-Anglophone Indian immigrant children in local schools would hold back their children’s education. It was primarily to placate such fears that ‘dispersal’ (or ‘bussing’) was introduced in areas such as Southall and Bradford, as well as to promote the integration of mostly Asian children. It consisted in sending busloads of immigrant children to predominantly white suburban schools, in an effort to ‘spread the burden’. This form of social engineering went on until the early 1980s. This book, by mobilising local and national archival material as well as interviews with formerly bussed pupils in the 1960s and 1970s, reveals the extent to which dispersal was a flawed policy, mostly because thousands of Asian pupils were faced with racist bullying on the playgrounds of Ealing, Bradford, etc. It also investigates the debate around dispersal and the integration of immigrant children, e.g. by analysing the way some Local Education Authorities (Birmingham, London) refused to introduce bussing. It studies the various forms that dispersal took in the dozen or so LEAs where it operated. Finally, it studies local mobilisations against dispersal by ethnic associations and individuals. It provides an analysis of debates around ‘ghetto schools’, ‘integration’, ‘separation’, ‘segregation’ where quite often the US serves as a cognitive map to make sense of the English situation.

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Conclusion

War without limits

Adam Page

The conclusion argues that the destruction from the air in the Second World War was the product of a longer history of airpower and urbanism, in which the perceived vulnerability of cities and their inhabitants played an important role in normalising the deliberate bombing of civilians and eroding the distinction between combatant and non-combatant in modern war. The chapter provides a brief overview of the book’s main arguments and stresses the continuities of thinking across peacetime and wartime. The last section examines how an urban history of airpower and war can help develop Cold War critiques of militarisation and cast light on the rationalities of the seemingly permanent war of the twenty-first century, as new architectures of survival are ever more firmly embedded in a contemporary urbanism of terrorism, surveillance and security.

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Cities under fire

The ‘new blitz reality’

Adam Page

The third chapter discusses the Second World War and, in particular, the Blitz period, when the dangers of living in urban spaces and the central areas of cities in modern war were realised and air raids became part of everyday life. This chapter moves away from the social histories of urban populations under fire to focus on the transformation of the materiality of cities and their infrastructure networks. In order to do this, it considers how different elements of the built environment were refigured by bombing in both a strategically important provincial city and the capital. In London, the networks of subterranean pipes and tunnels were transformed into an urban architecture of survival and civil defence that extended underground, while on the streets above a new ‘architecture of destruction’ came into view. A case study of the strategic port town of Southampton demonstrates how the city’s infrastructure networks were affected by bombing. The final section considers how networked infrastructure during the war fed into policy makers’ visions of nationalisation in reconstruction.

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“Before it gets out of hand”

The introduction of dispersal in Bradford

Olivier Esteves

Like Southall, Bradford was faced in 1960–62 with a sudden influx of Asian immigrants, the great majority of whom hailed from Pakistan. This wave of immigration did cause some early panic, with the outbreak of smallpox in 1962. This chapter studies the introduction of bussing locally, which took place without a real white mobilisation in favour of it. Dispersal in Bradford was a fairly smooth affair compared with Southall. It was hailed by members of the Wilson government as a model type of dispersal, particularly because the city proved efficient at gathering statistics about immigrant children, but archives reveal that, as elsewhere, there were many shortcomings to the operation of dispersal locally, which had a detrimental effect on immigrant children.

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Babylon by bus

The quotidian experience of being bussed

Olivier Esteves

This chapter relies almost wholly on ethnographic fieldwork, i.e. interviews of formerly bussed pupils sharing their recollections some decades later. An analysis is provided of their broad sociological profile and how this may impact their memories of bussing. Then, various pragmatic elements about the bussing routine are studied, as well as the way racism in the dispersal schools was an unchallenged norm. Just as importantly, bussing’s effect was in fact to segregate rather than to integrate children in various kinds of ways. The fieldwork also illustrates sometimes the way individual children or families managed to circumvent certain demands through their seeming compliance and calculated conformity. Lastly, some exceptions to how negative bussing was are studied, as well as the way bussing ‘toughened up’, with hindsight, many of the interviewees themselves.

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Architectures of survival

Air war and urbanism in Britain, 1935–52

Adam Page

Architectures of survival investigates the relationship between air war and urbanism in modern Britain and asks how the development of airpower and the targeting of cities influenced perceptions of urban spaces and visions of urban futures. The book brings together a diverse range of source materials to highlight the connections between practices of warfare and urbanism in the twentieth century. It covers the interwar period, the Second World War and the early Cold War to demonstrate how airpower created a permanent threat to cities. It considers how architects, town planners and government officials reframed bombing as an ongoing urban problem, rather than one contingent to a particular conflict, and details how the constant threat of air raids prompted planning for defence and planning for development to become increasingly entangled. The book highlights the relevance of war and the anticipation of war in modern urban history and argues that the designation of cities as targets has had long-lasting consequences. It addresses militarisation in modern Britain by investigating how air war became incorporated into civilian debates about the future of cities and infrastructure, and vulnerability to air raids was projected onto the mundane material culture of everyday urban life.

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‘What is the British Navy doing?’

The Royal Navy’s image problem in War Illustrated magazine

Jonathan Rayner

This chapter examines the problematic representation of the Royal Navy and its war roles in the popular magazine War Illustrated, between the outbreak of the First World War and the Battle of Jutland. The difficulties affecting the illustration of the Navy’s contribution and responsibilities within the mushrooming conflict are foregrounded in this publication, which records and depicts the war’s events through reportage, editorials, photography and the work of war artists. Against a backdrop of failure and stalemate in the battles on land, the magazine’s negotiation of conflicting requirements of propaganda, politics and patriotic investment in the Navy produces a complex, critical portrait of the Senior Service in the years before the focal point of its war role and image, at the anticipated fleet-to-fleet encounter at Jutland.

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Salt water in the blood

Race, indigenous naval recruitment and British colonialism, 1934–41

Daniel Owen Spence

The British Empire reached its greatest extent at the end of the First World War, but the Royal Navy’s ability to uphold Britain’s global interests was limited by economic downturn and the 1922 Washington Naval Treaty. To mitigate this imperial overstretch, over 40,000 Asian, African, Caribbean and Pacific sailors were recruited into colonial navies and reserves by the time of the Second World War. These units physically and psychologically fortified British colonialism against internal and external dissidents, indoctrinating imperial discourses of power that reinforced racialised systems of hierarchy and control; ‘Anglo-Saxonism’ and ‘Orientalism’ delineated chains of command where paternalistic British officers instructed ‘native’ ratings in their ‘civilising mission’ to ‘develop’ the ‘character’ of a ‘modern’ navy. ‘Martial race’ theory, which ethnically categorised ‘natural’ soldiers, served to ‘divide and rule’ by promoting imperially loyal groups over those threatening the status quo, and for naval recruiters a distinctly ‘seafaring race’ theory evolved around maritime semantics with a similar imperial purpose. Utilising transnational research which reconciles ‘official’ and ‘subaltern’ sources from the Caribbean, Africa, and Asia, this chapter examines the social and cultural impact of naval-indigenous interactions upon racial identities, colonial ethnic relations, imperial power and decolonisation at the end of the British Empire.