ISSN: 20509790
First published in 2014
3 issues per volume
Volume 2 Issue 3
Cover Date: September 2015
Grotland explored: The fleeting urban imaginaries of post-war inner West London
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Authors:  Jason Finch 
DOI: 10.1386/jucs.2.3.275_1

Bullman, Joseph,gentrification,London,London fiction,memory,North Kensington,television documentary,urban imaginaries

The status as a dynamic urban frontier or periphery of areas ripe for gentrification or in the process of gentrification is illuminated by discursive representations of North Kensington, West London. As part of a specifically 1950s and 1960s localized urban imaginary this district was viewed as part of ‘Grotland’, a zone of transition containing much architectural and social decay but also new social housing and wealthier incomers in the same period. Recollections of one street, Portland Road, W11, mediated by a 2012 television documentary, emphasize frontiers within the street dividing it between a wealthier south and a poorer north. Historical accounts of the area make Portland Road itself into a frontier dividing a prosperous and respectable zone to the east from an extremely poor and unrespectable one to the west. Fiction written in the 1950s and 1960s highlights moments at which life in areas such as this, far from seeming to be in inexorable change towards gentrification, seemed to hold chaos and dereliction together with capitaldriven reformulations. Taking these materials into account, work on gentrification needs to be nuanced by an understanding of individual acts of gentrification in dialogue with structural and environmental change. More than has so far been recognized, urban imaginaries often focus on transitional and highly localized portions of imagined cities.
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