Context 162 - November 2019

C O N T E X T 1 6 2 : N O V E M B E R 2 0 1 9 57 the Crystal Palace. And I would certainly have welcomed some challenge from the critics of heritage (like Robert Hewison’s powerful critique of the veneration of the past), as well as the exponents of garden cities, regional planning and modernism.Why not Lewis Mumford’s combative review of Jacobs’ book (which he ridiculed for schoolgirl howlers and as a home-made poultice for urban cancer), alongside some thoughts from Robert Moses or Le Corbusier, in their own words? Readers, and especially students, need to see that conservation values have evolved in a contested debate and not been handed down as unchallengeable tablets of stone. And they need to know why, in the late 1960s, scientific rationalism and modernism gave way to the participatory politics originating in the civil rights movement and the rise of the ‘counterculture’. Without these wider social rifts and tensions, conservation ethics might have remained in a backwater, rather than forging a powerful set of new cultural values. It is in the later sections of the book, with contributions from contemporary experts in urban conservation, that the debate acquires a new complexity, as writers wrestle with the ‘expert’ status of conservation values, alongside representative democracy and participatory democracy, not to say the rise of populism, the critique of expert opinions and the shift towards more authoritarian government, notably in Asia. Whose views should prevail in complex urban settings – those of the wealthy, the international experts, the politicians or the local community? It is not at all clear whether thoughtful and committed Unesco advisors like Michael Turner or the late Ron Van Oers have the answers, especially in accommodating local political leaders and communities who may be out of sympathy with conservation ethics. These tensions, familiar to planners and urban sociologists, arise as conservation comes face to face with power, wealth and politics. Historic cities under pressure to accommodate development are the arenas within which these debates will be settled. Has conservation reached its highwater mark and will other interests hold sway in future decisions? The readings in Cody and Silvado’s masterly survey do not provide easy answers, but they certainly equip the reader with the right questions – and with the necessary understanding. IanWray is the author of No Little Plans: how government built America’s wealth and infrastructure. OTHER BOOKS RECEIVED Britain’s Best Real Heritage Pubs Geoff Brandwood, CAMRA, 2016, 315 pages, 670 colour illustrations, softback, ISBN 978 1 852493 34 9, £9.99 In an age of diminishing pubs and pub going, it is cheering to see the cream of what survives. The new edition of the guide features 260 of the pubs with the most significant interiors as identified by CAMRA’s Pub Heritage Group, and here celebrated with brief but spirited descriptions by Geoff Brandwood. Great is the variety, from glitzy late-Victorian gin palaces to simple back-street drinking dens. The book also contains features that tell the story of the British pub, including a review of those that have made film and TV appearances, and a snapshot of present-day trends. Cities of the North Jones the Planner, Adrian Jones and Chris Matthews, Five Leaves Publications, 2016, 199 pages, colour illustrations, softback, ISBN 978 1 910170 34 2, £13.99 Jones the Planner’s previous critique of our changing townscape, Towns in Britain , was short on northern cities, and it is good to have this edition, devoted solely to the north. The authors follow in the footsteps of Ian Nairn, and demonstrate a similar passion and acerbic wit when describing the great achievements of the past, and some of the shortcomings of our own times. They feature nine cities, from Liverpool to Newcastle, supplemented by often quirky images, and conclude with some well-considered reflections which should be required reading for government ministers and city mayors. Redundancy and Renewal: maintaining and using historic churches Nicholas Groves, ed, Lasse Press, 2016, 224 pages, colour and black-and-white illustrations, softback, ISBN 978 0 993306 92 1, £14.99 This slim book contains eight