Changes in London
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War had significant effect on twentieth-century London. Massive changes occurred in the spheres of economy, industry as well as in the social class structure of the city. These changes have caused long-term effects and have played a crucial role in the marking the beginning of a new era in the history of Great Britain. Since the 17th century London experienced numerous military attacks which involved the use of cannon fire. Later on in the 20th century explosive bombs carried by airships and airplanes were thrown into the core of the city.
Both world wars transformed all spheres of life but also became triggers that speeded up social change. As an illustration, the number of women entering the workforce between 1914 and 1918 was bigger than ever before. They were filling in the vacancies emptied by men who went to the front line during the war. This practice contributed to a notion that Britain, as a modern state, did not want to exclude its women from the national efforts of restoring the country after the war. In the Second World War, similar processes took place with groups of working class people. The experience of striving to defeat a common enemy together set the ground for Welfare State social reforms. These reforms were providing equal standards of health protection and safety at the workplace as well as provided equal opportunities for people to get education. These reform applied to everyone irrespective of class, social status or the background of an individual (Ndulo, 2007). In this situation the war should be given a credit for finally making London a less hierarchical city. Citizens of London also became more socially flexible after the war.
London is a city that bears the wounds of 20th century warfare, the effect of which was carried into the 21st century. Bomb attacks which happened during the war left a heritage of empty spaces where buildings had once been constructed. The skeletons of 17th century churches shattered in the attack were conserved as a museum, which acts as a reminder of destructive nature of the war. Londoners have as well carried the wounds of both the first and second world wars into the present. No London family could escape the post effects of war. There were several effects, which the society members experienced during the course of service in the military: grief, division, dislocation, and the trauma of becoming a refugee. During the whole 20th century the people of London had some personal linkage to the ordeal of war.
Immediately after the war, the production of industries’ within London city had gone down by a margin of ten percent. However, there were increases in the production of other industries such as the steel industry. Britain faced a contentious shell shortage, which was attributed to the extraordinary orders that were placed before the war broke out. After fighting two wars, the United Kingdom had lost its status as one of the world’s top powers. Before the beginning of the Second World War, United Kingdom had a tremendously vast empire, and after the war, most of the countries sought for their own independence. The Unite Kingdom had to borrow money from the United States to equip itself for the war. The debt was not returned back for a long period until just recently. In London there was a shortage of food and clothing that lasted for a very long time.
There were several emotional problems that society members experienced as a result of the war. The shell shock syndrome, which is often associated with the First World War, referred to the condition of depression that soldiers experienced after they came back from the war. It was clear that soldiers who went through the battle experience had psychological symptoms and could not adapt to life without war. Further, many boys had lied about their age so that they could get the chance to get to the British army during war time. Most of the British soldiers who refused to fight were shot for cowardice. Most of the population in London experienced posttraumatic stress disorder after the war. There were several psychological impacts of the war that became long term and affected the general behaviour of individuals. The war had paramount impact on the health and safety of the civilian population. The children who were evacuated from the city to the safe countryside without their parents suffered a lot of psychological traumas.
As it was claimed earlier, the war had a tremendous impact on the role that women played in a society. To get the comprehensive insight on how the war transformed the roles of women it is necessary to have a clear understanding of the women’s roles before the onset of the Great War. Before the war, women were supposed to bring up children and care for their husbands as well as their homes. They were not permitted to vote in elections. In addition, remarkably few women worked outside the home. Even if the woman got employed, her wage was considerably lower than that of a man. The group of women who deviated from the majority and were trying to achieve equal opportunities for women were the Suffragettes. During the war, men left their jobs and to fight. This led to emptying many jobs in transport and manufacture industries. However, the country was in need for transport and industry sectors’ employees to keep these industries in operations. Therefore, the government decided to allow women to do the jobs that previously were done by men. Women showed that they were as capable as men. After the war, some of the women resumed their old jobs whilst others wanted to remain employed since they have proven to have the capacity to work like men.
London suffered massive damages during the Second World War. This was a result of the aerial bombardment, which paralysed many industries, destroyed residential homes and commercial districts, which included historic centre of the city. An average of about thirty thousand civilian and soldiers died because of the enemy attacks, and a big number of Londoners were injured during that period. The reconstruction of the city began after the end of the war though the building materials were in short supply. During the war, the great plan had been made as the blue print plan for the reconstruction of the city. The severe air pollution from the burning of coal in homes and industries contributed to the Great Smog. The smog in its turn played a big role in causing deaths of approximately four thousand Londoners.
Subsequently, during the next quarter of the century, there was an enormous effort made in the process of clearing slums as well as in construction of new houses and apartments in the city. There focus was also on the improving of the services in all sectors in London. As a result of this, bigger number of residents within the Greater London constructed houses, followed by spread of construction towards the southeast part (Coates, 2004).
There were important construction projects at the beginning of 21st century, including the construction of the new British Library. Furthermore, Underground lines were developed throughout Docklands and innovative Millennium Bridge was built specifically for pedestrian traffic. Built over Thames to connect Tate Modern with the city at St. Paul’s Cathedral, the bridge opened temporarily in 2000. It was closed when it unexpectedly swayed, which called for a sequence of studies requiring skilful engineers and construction workers. It was reopened in 2002 after some modifications in its construction were made to stabilize it. Downriver at Greenwich the Millennium Dome, which is a contentious project beside the Thames in the East End, offered accessible diversity of exhibitions throughout 2000.
London was the control centre of the parliamentarians throughout the whole period of war as Charles I ultimately decided to put up his competitor Head Quarter in Oxford. This attempt had vital economic allegation for the capital, other than the loss of the imperial court. Its parliamentary masters used London’s resources in the exact ways as had medieval Tudor and Stuart monarchs, who used London long distant traders for large loans to finance their war efforts. However, they went further, since one of the characteristics of the Civil War was the introduction of taxes that for the first time in English history regulated the real wealth of the country. London was hit especially hard by the introduction of new direct taxes e.g. the introduction of the monthly assessment, which was a form of income tax. Other indirect taxes were also introduced, like the new elimination of tax on customer goods. Londoners’ money was directed into the parliamentarian’s war fronts, giving the king’s opponents a significant advantage that ultimately helped them win the war. As a result, the impact on London was massive. It has been estimated that approximately a quarter or a third of the total sum raised nationwide by tax assessments came from London. It is not surprising that Londoners did not pay and in some cases organized tax riots. The main opposing riot was in Smithfield in 1647. Nevertheless, Londoners unquestionably paid for the war out of their own personal savings.
In addition to predictable tensions in London that grew out of the economic and social implications of the war, the situation was worsened by increasing political and religious division of a nation. Most of the bombing was blamed on the Muslim religion.
Through the war London was parliamentarian. Royalist propaganda, such as John Birkenhead’s Cavalier condemnation of rebellious London which was published in 1643, portrayed London as the centre of evils.
With the use of modern terminology, it is possible to describe the centre of evil as a place, where the acts of evil and rebellious schemes against the law and order are born. According to Berkenhead, the forces of law and order that were at risk were not western-style democracy, but the Stuart monarchy, and the threats were imposed not by Al Qaeda terrorists, but by parliamentarian puritans. However, London was clearly the centre of the parliamentarian antagonism (Porter, 1996). Therefore, the last area of London life, in which the Civil War was a catalyst for unpredictability and volatility was the sphere of culture and ideas. In London, the Civil War is perceived to have had depressing, gloomy, and dampening consequence because it inflicted enlightening philistinism. The war has brought numerous damages for the cultural activities within the city. For instance, in the year 1642 theatre performances on stage were stopped as part of the parliamentary ordinance. Restrictions also applied to church music. Other types of music as well as the visual arts were not outlawed. The civil war in London did not bring art, music and fun to an end. This showed how selective this process was.
The Imperial museum holds massive museum's anthologies, which include archives of personal and bureaucratic documents. It also has oral historical recordings, which form an extensive library. They also have large art collections, examples of military vehicles and aircraft, equipment and other artefacts.
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