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« on: January 23, 2010, 02:03:18 pm »

THE DISTRICTS OF STOVESBY

Stovesby Civic Society Research Paper No. 69, Author: Edward Gannon.

Introduction

Shortly after the Municipal Socialist Party took overall control of the City Council for the first time, it was decided to divide the city into official districts for planning and strategic purposes. This task was entrusted to the Public Works Committee and its attached department. In practice, the official districts were drawn up almost entirely by Cllr Allan Watson (the then Chairman of the Committee and now the Member of Parliament for Stovesby Central) and Mr Albert Lombardi (then as now the City Engineer and senior Council Officer in the Department).

1. The Inner Districts

I - Central:  the core of the city and is home to the central business district, the Town Hall and the Cathedral. Although very active in daytime, the area has a relatively low population, because most of the people working in the district commute there. Central remains a largely middle-class area, though there has been development of cheaper public housing in some parts of the district and urban decay and subdivision has become a serious issue in the Oldhaven area. Oldhaven is dominated by the Old Harbour, which predates the Industrial Revolution and has been rendered derelict by changes to the size of shipping. The decay of Oldhaven should not district from the bourgeois splendor of the houses around Royal Square, from the surprisingly well-preserved medieaval area known (not entirely accurately) as "Old Stovesby" or from the Victorian magnificence of the area around the Cathedral.

II - Low Town: Hemmed in between the sea wall, the northern railway line and the cliffs, Low Town has the unenviable reputation of being the worst slum in Stovesby outside the St Jude's district. Low Town was largely constructed in the first half of the 19th century - while an area to the west of the industrial districts might seem an unlikely place for a slum, the unhealthy, marshland of the area and the then constant threat of flooding explains a great deal. Low Town is dominated by gloomy courts and (towards the east) grim Scottish-style tenements, employment is largely unskilled and death rates are abnormally high. The area was devastated by bombing during the War and its population has halved since 1931 - despite this, the area remains overcrowded. Politically, Low Town was a paradoxical Conservative stronghold until the mid '30's; the large Irish population voted for them in municipal elections because of the education issue, the rest of the population because of jingoism, the promise of Social Imperalism and anti-Irish sentiment. Extreme residential segregation made it surprisingly easy to build a successful electoral coalition from apparently opposing elements. In part due to their reputation as a party of the Trade Unions and the better off Working Class, the Socialists polled poorly in Low Town until radical housing and slum clearance plans became a staple of their election literature. Since the mid '30's Low Town has voted strongly Socialist, though turnouts are low.

III - Chamberlain: Stovesby's first real suburb - an area built to allow the bourgeoisie to escape from the industrial fumes of St Jude's and the noise, small houses and horse dung of the old town. Large houses with huge gardens were initially the norm, though as time went by the area became more and more a perfect example of villa suburbia. The University of Stovesby has been based in Chamberlain since 1882 and its foundation can perhaps be seen as the high point of Chamberlain's existence. Since the end of the First World War things have started to change. Many Chamberlain residents were no longer satisfied with life in villadom and moved out into the new suburbs. The area is moving downmarket over the longterm, a process that has been accelerated by the development of a new red-light district on the Chamberlain side of the old town walls. The leadership of the Municipal Conservatives have concerns about the longterm safety of what was once their greatest stronghold, but have not voiced this in public.

IV - St Jude's: East of the old city walls and west of the inner port, St Jude's is a densely populated working class district and a minor industrial area. It was largely built before the onset of by-law housing and is home to Stoveby's worst slums, some of which were cleared by bombing in the War. Housing in St Jude's, beyond being largely unsuitable for human habitation, is noted for its unusual architecture and (according to public health officials) dangerous high stairs originally built for flood protection. Employment is dominated by various small workshops in the district, by the port and railways, and by low order public sector and service jobs in the city centre. The population of the district has been falling since the council house construction boom that followed the Wheatley Act, but the area remains overcrowded, a situation not improved by the destruction of parts of the district during the war. St Jude's also includes the city's main railway station.
St Jude's has been a Socialist stronghold since the early 1920's and the area is regarded as dangerous one by activists for other parties - reports of canvassers being thrown down the district's characteristic long stairs, while never confirmed, have entered the political folklore of Stovesby.

V - Shaddyside: Its name apparently a result of its position under the cliffs, the Shaddyside is a large and diverse area largely developed between 1820 and 1880 and is Stovesby's traditional immigrant district. A majority of people in the district are of Irish descent, but was also the historic home of the city's Jews. The tradition of immigration has continued and the Shaddyside now has the largest population of Commonwealth migrants in the city. Housing is of a decidedly mixed quality, ranging from crumbling slums to Stovesby's first council houses (which are generally of a very high quality). The area was once a Liberal stronghold but has voted Socialist since the 1920's (with the exception of 1931). Political life is, however, decidedly fractious and internal stich-ups and messy deselections have become common.


« Last Edit: November 17, 2010, 10:23:08 am by Sibboleth »Logged

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« Reply #1 on: January 23, 2010, 02:22:51 pm »

2. The North Western Suburbs

VI - North Liberty: while largely a residential district, North Liberty has a reputation as an alternative, and more refined, shopping centre to the increasingly seedy city centre. The district , which sits on an area of relatively flat land between the industrial lowlands, and residential highlands serves as meeting point for many of the main transit arteries of the city, and a central hub for many of the surrounding districts. In the 1850's, most of this land was taken up by the cow pastures that give it it's name ("Liberty" being an old term for a plot of commonly-held grazing land).  As small village existed at a crossroads in the area.  This began to change, however, when two of those crossroads were turned into turnpikes, and the sleepy area outside of the city controlled access within.  Inns and small stores popped up at the junction, followed by homes, department stores, and other developments.  The toll booths were gone by, 1900, but by then the former village was a booming center of commerce; which was then annexed by the city in 1908 (still a sore spot with some of the old time residents). This history of late development and the influence of an American urban planner has lent to the neighborhood's wide, sweeping streets, and relatively uncongested appearance, something that has made it popular with professionals seeking larger houses than those found in the Chamberlain district. St. George's, a beautiful, ornate church, rivaling the Cathedral for its sheer Victorian sham-gothic excess, is a symbol of the community and source of local pride.
Like much of the city, North Liberty was damaged during the war.  And though recovery was swift, the opportunity given by newly available land, the slow advance of urban decay, and the designs of urban planners leave the future of this neighborhood uncertain.

VII - Culzeansands*:  a former fishing village nestled in sand dunes, swallowed up by the mid-19th century expansion of Stovesby. With urbanisation came the construction of grand Georgian and Victorian sandstone terraces and smaller townhouses. While the area, through choice, did not become a 'kiss me quick' summer resort, it still maintains a healthy seasonable tourist trade. It's houses are well kept and expensive. It's inhabitants are outward looking, at least to those on middle class 'jollies' from the city and elsewhere. It remained an urban district in its own right until local authority re-organisation in 1927. Culzeansands is home to a summer arts and cultural fair 'The Flibbertygibbert' on The Sands and is home to the regionally famous Princes Theatre and the Maritime Museum. A coastal tram operates in the area connecting with transport services further south. The sand dunes are very popular with ramblers and bird spotters. Culzeansands was once a popular retreat for Scottish industrialists, something that survives in the area's unusual names, such as St Andrew's, Muckle Ferry, Zelburgh, Kirklachlan and Trondwick.

*pronounced 'Cuh-ley-an Sands'.

VIII - St Alban and Sunnybrae: the suburb of St Alban to the north of the old city was initially settled by industrialists and bankers in a period of Stovesby's rapid growth during the Industrial Revolution. St Alban has always been considered attractive due to its nearness to the city. Many of the homes date from the late-Victorian era, and the tree-lined streets are still desirable. In more recent years, wealthier citizens have moved to the costal suburbs to the west, however St Alban has remained an upper-middle to upper class suburb. Most residents are professionals in financial and legal fields, who work in the city. Further out from St Alban, the middle- to upper-middle class suburb of Sunnybrae has recently been developed. Only two of the bus routes servicing St Alban currently service Sunnybrae, and few residents can rely on public transport to get to work. Improvement of public transportation has been a hot-button issue in Sunnybrae, and the last council election saw a popular (albeit losing) independent running a single-issue campaign on the expansion of the bus network in the area.

XIII - Saint Michael: originally sparsely populated farmland, with Saint Michael being the name given to a small coastal hamlet whose economic survival depended on farming. Like adjacent Culzeansands, this primary economy was overrun by urban growth and some grand Georgian and Victorian terraces and smaller houses were built along the coastal cliffs. Growth inland was much slower, and it only started becoming a suburban area after World War II, with the construction of the city's small airport. As opposed to the very affluent coastal areas of the district, areas inland tend to be more middle-class and the houses are more modest. Compared to the coast, it has more of a suburbia feel to it.

XX - Willow Tree: Once the grounds of a rather wealthy abbey (before it was demolished in a religious upheaval), the 1930s saw Willow Tree become the scene of a large council estate. This estate, consisting of rather uniform terraced houses with individual gardens, small parades of shops every so often and a fair number of allotments, is basically an area that took a lot of emigrants from St. Jude's and other such areas before and after the war. Much of its population commute into the centre of the city on a daily basis as local leisure facilities are somewhat spartan- the local swimming pool, the Willow Tree Pool, is an outdoor pool not considered for the faint-hearted in winter. The libraries are good though. A small local tram network, originally used in the building of the estate, is still in operation, although is in dire need of an upgrade. Like many estates of its type, Willow Tree was designed as a collection of smaller communities, all officially defined. They are: Willow Tree, Marringtree, Four Princes, Oldbridge, Sutton Hill, Deepchurch and Pine Tree. All streets in Deepchurch start with the letter 'D', all streets in Sutton Hill with 'S' and so on and so forth.
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« Reply #2 on: January 23, 2010, 02:41:08 pm »

3. The Eastern Suburbs

IX - Isaacstown: this district is clearly divided into two quite different and distinct parts and it is uncertain why they were combined for official purposes. Isaacstown itself a classic, almost streotypical, example of a traditional Working Class district. It is largely made up of row upon row of terraced housing, includes Fineeg Park (the home of Stovesby AFC), large numbers of factories and a small steelworks. A traditional stronghold of Trade Unionism, Isaacstown was the Socialists first stronghold in Stovesby and remains one of the Party's strongest districts. Longterm concerns exist about the future of the steelworks, but this is, in general, not an area with many social problems. To the south of Isaacstown proper is an area around the docks, known unofficially as East Stovesby. The area was developed rapidly as the Port of Stovesby was expanded and it remains curiously isolated from the rest of the city, even from Isaacstown. In part this may be explained by the fact that East Stovesby has been one of the main centres of the city's Irish community since the docks were extended and in part by the total neglect the area suffered from until the late 1930s (one example will suffice: East Stovesby contains some of the worst housing outside the central districts, but not a single house was demolished under the Greenwood Act until the MSP won a majority on the City Council). One upshot of this has been the massive influence that the Catholic Church and the G&TWU have in the area - between them they dominate both political life and the local MSP in East Stovesby.

X- Stovesby Island : once an unassuming stretch of saltmarsh to the southwest of Stovesby. Industrialisation brought major changes; the construction of the inner docks and the Ship Canal seperated the area from the mainland and the area was turned over to purposes of heavy industry. The waterfront of the largest of the inner docks, Leip Dock, is on Stovesby Island as are many facilities relating to the massive outer docks. Stovesby Island is also home to a vast landscape of warehouses and small factories and foundaries, as well as a large modern steelworks. The area is connected to the mainland by two bridges, a railway bridge into the heart of Stovesby and a road bridge linking Stovesby Island to the homes of the bulk of its workforce in Isaacstown and Sanker. But Stovesby Island is not without a resident population; when the docks were built so to were houses for dockers, generally of an appalling quality and small size. Most of these were bombed out during the War, but some survive and remain in a dreadful state. Stovesby Island has traditionally been united with East Stovesby for electoral purposes.

XI - Sanker: Largely developed in the last three decades of the nineteenth century, Sanker is a mixture of by-law terraces and (near the river) industrial facilities, including several large factories. It is an unremarkable Working Class district with strongly Socialist voting patterns and no serious social problems. Local politics is dominated by the Engineering union.

XII - Gawther: essentially a mixture of by-law housing and (towards its eastern end) interwar suburbia, including council estates. It is a largely working class area, but not to the extent of Sanker or Isaacstown (and has considerably higher average rates than both). Gawther only swung to the Socialists in 1945 and the Party has yet to consolidate its hold over it - it appears prone to bolt away from the Party in poor years (in contrast to the districts to its south) and concerns exist about the possibility of a backlash against Commonwealth immigration into the neighbouring Shaddyside district. It is, however, one of the few usually Socialist parts of Stovesby where candidate selection is not dominated by union branches.
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« Reply #3 on: January 23, 2010, 02:50:55 pm »

4. The North Eastern Suburbs

XIV - Frodsby: named for the former parish of Frodsby, this district is much like Eastridge (see below) being largely comprised of interwar suburbia and being large middle class. There are, however, several notable differences. The first is that it includes a large section of Wedlock Wood (leading, in turn, to higher property prices than Eastridge), the second is that there is no Residents Association in Frodsby. It is, however, not uniformly Conservative in municipal politics - the Municipal Liberal Association remains unusually active in the area and only lost its last councillor in 1951.

XVI - Eastridge: perhaps not the most interesting part of Stovesby. A largely rural area as late as the 1920's, it is now dominated by classic interwar suburbia (much of it ribbon development). Though there are a few small estates, it is largely owner-occupied and middle class. While affluent rather than rich and lower middle class rather than truely bourgeois, its residents are nonethless well aware of the social gulf between Eastridge and the likes of Shovington or even Upper Stovesby. Local politics in Eastridge has long been dominated by the Eastridge Residents Association, but votes solidly Tory in national elections. There is a Socialist vote in Eastridge, but it isn't large enough to win or even come close.

XVIII - Upper Stovesby: Upper Stovesby is not a name that many of the residents of this diverse slice of suburbia would use to describe where they live - the area includes owner-occupied suburbia from the interwar period and more recently, along with several 1930's council estates. It is, on balance, more working class than middle class but not by a massive amount. Plans exist for more council housing to be built in the area, but details have not been agreed on and the matter has stalled. Politically it contains a mixture of strongholds for both parties and an unusual amount of swing territory for a city as polarised as Stovesby.

5. The Outer Districts

XXII - Ardthorpe: the former Urban District of Ardthorpe was incorporated, against the wishes of its inhabitants,  into Stovesby in 1953. The UD comprised the industrial towns of Ardthorpe and Donsett (home to a large steelworks), two pit villages and an overspill estate. There are serious concerns about industrial pollution in the west of the district. The area is heavily industrial and utterly Working Class and, unsurprisingly given its three collieries, local politics is dominated by the Miners union. The old Ardthorpe UD was a Socialist stronghold (the Party typical won all contested seats with the exception of the occasional Independent or Independent Socialist) something that has not changed with incorporation.

XVII - Shovington: the pit village of Shovington was built in the middle of the nineteenth century, an active colliery remains in the area and much of the district still has the feel of a mining community. But Shovington changed beyond recognition in the 1930's as overspill estates physically linked the area to Stovesby and as a huge new industrial estate was developed north of the old village. As a mixture of council estates and miners cottages, Shovington is predictably Socialist. The Miners union remains a considerable force in local politics, though (unlike Ardthorpe) it doesn't have total control over candidate selection.

XXI - Hellsby: the largest building site in the city. Although home to several 1930's estates it remained largely rural until recently - when the city council decided that it was the idea location for a massive council estate, larger even than Willow Tree. House by house and year by year, the Hellsby plan is coming into fruition... though criticisms have been levelled at the slow pace of construction.

XIX - Hellsby Wood: the parish of Hellsby Wood was added to Stovesby in the same boundary changes which brought in Ardthorpe. It was originally part of Saltforth Rural District and is largely fields and wasteland. There are old industrial facilities on the boundary with Ardthorpe, a few farmhouses, the Hellsby Colliery and a few rows of terraced housing near the pit. That's about all.

XV - Outer Docks and Industrial Estates: There's no need to say much as no one lives here. The area includes the things that the name suggests (and also a coal-fired power station). It is probably Stovesby's economic hub, though was only incorporated into the city in fits and starts (between 1923 and 1952).
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"I have become entangled in my own data, and my conclusion stands in direct contradiction to the initial idea from which I started. Proceeding from unlimited freedom, I end with unlimited despotism. I will add, however, that there can be no solution of the social formula except mine."
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