Revisioning and Rebuilding Britain’s War-Damaged Cities

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-7635

Article | Open Access | Ahead of Print | Last Modified: 19 December 2022

Revisioning and Rebuilding Britain’s War-Damaged Cities

  • Peter J. Larkham Department of the Built Environment, Birmingham City University, UK
  • David Adams School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Birmingham, UK

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Abstract:  This article presents an overview of Second World War bomb damage to British towns and cities and a systematic evaluation of the relationship between damage, revisioning, replanning, and actual reconstruction in a sample of cities—Bath, Birmingham, and Hull. Two were severely affected by aerial bombing as port/industrial targets, and the third for propaganda purposes as a historical city. Two had extensive plans produced by eminent consultants (both involving Patrick Abercrombie) but the city managers of the third did not support “big plans.” Birmingham, without a specific plan, rebuilt extensively and relatively quickly. Hull’s plan was disliked locally and virtually vanished. Bath was repaired rather than rebuilt. These contrasting experiences have shaped the contemporary city via subsequent generations of replanning (not all of which was implemented) and, in Birmingham’s case, the demolition of major reconstruction investments after relatively short lifespans. The article demonstrates the difficulty of conceptualising a generic approach to post-catastrophe reconstruction and the problems of such large-scale change over a short period for the longer-term effective functioning of the city.

Keywords:  Bath; Birmingham; Hull; post-war replanning; rebuilding; reconstruction; UK; wartime bomb damage

Published:   Ahead of Print

Issue:   Bombed Cities: Legacies of Post-War Planning on the Contemporary Urban and Social Fabric (Forthcoming)


© Peter J. Larkham, David Adams. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.