Unruly Tramscapes

Literary Mobilities and 1930s London Tramway Closure Events

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Jason Finch Associate Professor, Department of English Language and Literature, Åbo Akademi University, Finland jason.finch@abo.fi

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This article reappraises tramway closures in 1930s London by reading enthusiast memoirs of the events surrounding them. Literary representations in forms such as the novel and poetry of urban public transport experience often overlook experiences in peripheral urban zones and on modes such as the tramway which had a chiefly working-class ridership. Building a perspective around London's tramscapes, and by practicing Deep Locational Criticism as part of a characteristically “humanities” mode, temporally focused, in mobility studies, the article reveals contestations including acts of disorder surrounding the closure events, deploying those in a rereading of mid-twentieth-century British history more broadly. The 1930s North London suburbs emerge through a reading of George Atkins's account of 1938 closure events as sites of carnivalesque disorder and other bottom-up transport-focused activity, including the formation of enthusiast groups. This group of practices opposed the extremely top-down transport planning of the post-1933 London Passenger Transport Board's management.

Contributor Notes

Jason Finch is Associate Professor in the Department of English Language and Literature at Åbo Akademi University, Finland. His books include Deep Locational Criticism (2016), Literary Second Cities (co-editor, 2017), Literatures of Urban Possibility (co-editor, 2021), and Literary Urban Studies and How to Practice It (2022). A spatial and urban literary scholar, Jason's interests include: representations of housing (including the “slum”) and transport; place, neighborhood, and locality; London; UK–US comparisons. From 2019 to 2022, he is one of four principal investigators on the HERA project “Public Transport as Public Space in European Cities: Narrating, Experiencing, Contesting.” E-mail: jason.finch@abo.fi

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Interdisciplinary Journal of Mobility Studies