Arisotcratic fortune to civic aspiration: The role of landed elites in the development of Manchester's parks

O'Reilly, C 2010, 'Arisotcratic fortune to civic aspiration: The role of landed elites in the development of Manchester's parks' , Urban History Review . (Submitted)

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This paper examines the relationship between the landed aristocracy in the vicinity of Manchester and the ‘urban aristocracy’ of the municipal authority and their role in the development of municipal parks in the city in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It contests the view that landed elites had little impact on the development of the environs of Manchester during this period and argues that their social and economic influence was gradually replaced by that of the municipal authority. It also re-examines the role of debt in the decline of the traditional landed elites and argues that, in the case of the two families studied here, debt became a problem much earlier than others have suggested and was often chronic and persistent. The first part of the paper evaluates the business relationships between the local land-owning elites such as the Earls of Wilton and the baronets de Trafford, the municipal authorities and other commercial elites. The aristocracy of the Manchester area and the sales of their estates have been marginalised in existing histories as the aristocracy have been perceived as peripheral to the city’s development. It is the contention of this paper that they played a more active role in their localities than previously believed and they forged significant networks with local authorities, families, businesses and institutions. The second part of the work examines the idea that the rise of the power of the civic authority mirrored the decline in aristocratic fortunes during this period through an examination of the acquisition of former aristocratic estates for municipal parks. It argues that the acquisition of this land by Manchester City Council was as much about the increasing power and geographical spread of the city as about the provision of public parks. Having symbolised the social and economic power of the aristocracy, the land now represented the civic pride and enterprise of the municipal authority. The paper reveals the complex interplay of power between these elite groups and sheds a unique light on urban land usage and the formation of leisure spaces in the city.

Item Type: Article
Themes: Subjects / Themes > D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D204 Modern History
Subjects / Themes > D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
Subjects / Themes > H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Subjects / Themes > H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
Memory, Text and Place
Subjects outside of the University Themes
Schools: Schools > School of Arts & Media
Schools > School of Arts & Media > Arts, Media and Communication Research Centre
Journal or Publication Title: Urban History Review
Publisher: Becker Associates
Refereed: No
ISSN: 0703-0428
Depositing User: Dr Carole O'Reilly
Date Deposited: 26 Nov 2010 13:53
Last Modified: 30 Nov 2015 23:36

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