The experience of suburban modernity

How private transport changed interwar London

The Experience of Suburban Modernity explores how the adoption of new forms of private transport transformed inter-war suburban London. It shows how London’s suburban middle classes used their newly found disposable income to enjoy driving, motorcycling and flying. The Experience of Suburban Modernity demonstrates that these new practices were welcomed by many, but met resistance to change from those who were dismayed by the accidents that resulted from increased mobility and the aesthetic and cultural changes that were the consequence of Americanization and suburban development. The book is divided into three sections. The first considers each of the private transport technologies in turn: the car, the bicycle and motorcycle, and the aeroplane and shows how they contributed to a sense of suburban modernity. The second section examines the infrastructure that supported these technologies and shows how they were interpreted in contested visions of the meaning of Englishness. The final section describes a set of journeys that demonstrate a condition of suburban modernity. These include the roadhouse, a site of Americanisation and transgression, new mobile practices of consumption, the embodied experiences of driving in a modern way, and the disastrous consequences of air and car accidents.

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