Twenty years ago, Jacqueline Yallop began her working life leading guided walks at a small village high in the fells of the North Pennines. Built by philanthropic employers for families working the lead mines, the isolated settlement was one of a network of ‘model’ villages which sprang up across Britain during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In Dreamstreets, Yallop visits, and re-visits, some of these utopian experiments to explore their rich histories and to understand the social, political and cultural contexts from which they emerged.
From Scotland’s New Lanark mills to the imposing market square at Tremadog in Wales and the Arts and Crafts cottages of Port Sunlight, she walks the avenues and terraces to examine what remains of the impulses and ideals which made these villages so fashionable. Mixing social and political history, art and architecture, travelogue, biography, aesthetics and philosophy with memoir and on-the-ground observation, Dreamstreets draws on Yallop’s experience as a novelist, bringing her scholarly research to life in an energetic account of the complex and contradictory factors which changed the British landscape. Looking at everything from sewage systems to sculpture, chocolate to coal, and free trade to electoral emancipation, this book is a personal exploration of why and how these village utopias came about, what they tell us about the past, and how they still resonate with us today.
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