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Extra info for Anti-Ugly: Excursions in English Architecture and Design
Its closure, lengthy forget, close to destruction and now victorious recovery and reopening displays altering attitudes to Victorian structure during the last century. again in 1966 i'll scarcely have was hoping that not just might St Pancras live on yet that it'll someday be commonly looked with such appreciate, and affection. Attitudes to its fashion designer, George Gilbert Scott, have additionally replaced. now not sneered and laughed at, his stature keeps to develop, and it kind of feels merely correct that his two hundredth birthday is to be celebrated on thirteen July in Westminster Abbey the place he's buried. He rather used to be one of many nice Victorians. may perhaps 2011 the second one maximum Briton? This 12 months sees not just the centenary of the delivery  of Sir John Betjeman but in addition the bicentenary of a truly assorted person, the nice engineer Isambard state Brunel. The lives of either are being celebrated with a few fanfare. either maybe characterize diversified facets of Britain’s self-image (however false): Betjeman, the avuncular, cuddly poet and preserver of items and areas attractive; Brunel, the dynamic, creative and individualist writer of the hot – ‘The guy who outfitted the World’, ‘In love with the impossible’, to cite the subtitles of 2 fresh new books – who died, tired, on the age of fifty three. definitely, although he used to be by no means forgotten, Brunel’s heroic prestige has risen dramatically because the ebook of Tom Rolt’s biography in 1957; in 2003 BBC tv audience voted him moment in basic terms to Sir Winston Churchill because the ‘Greatest Briton’ (even notwithstanding he was once, in fact, like Pugin, half-French). Such, in those mediocre, timid and shameful occasions, is our desire for heroes. Brunel’s achievements have been definitely heroic. He equipped the best railway on this planet (the nice Western, from London to Bristol) in addition to engineering different strains either at domestic and out of the country. He used to be additionally accountable for 3 pioneering ships: one the 1st steam-powered vessel designed to pass the Atlantic, one other the 1st iron-hulled, screw pushed send, and a 3rd the most important send on the planet for part a century (the nice Western, nice Britain and nice japanese respectively). after which he designed the noble bridges that are nonetheless doing their task after a century and a part, significantly the gorgeous brick elliptical arches over the Thames at Maidenhead, and the good wrought-iron spans around the Tamar at Saltash. it's also worthy remarking that Brunel can make errors and that his disasters have been additionally on a heroic scale and highly dear (for others): the extraordinary yet doomed extensive Gauge, the grossly over-optimistic use of atmospheric traction at the South Devon Railway, and that final send which, as Steven Brindle rightly concludes, used to be ‘his final triumph and his maximum folly’. what's tense concerning the bicentenary celebrations is that we're being handled to but extra uncritical, gushing hero-worship. For there has been a dismal part to Brunel, as Adrian Vaughan first explored in his revisionist biography released in 1991. This daring engineer was once smug and dictatorial, treating contributors – no matter if contractors or assistants – with contempt; now not a number of he bankrupted.