• Bricks & Words #4: ‘The Property Boom’

    How London and other British cities were built up (literally) after the war by a new breed of smart, canny speculators and developers is the subject of this brilliant book, the subject of this month's Bricks & Words. Towers, shopping centres, offices are all covered, in the capital and elsewhere, with key chapters on the late Harry Hyams (mastermind of Centre Point), Joe Levy and more. If you care remotely about why London looks the way it does today, read on…

    This is the inside story of the post-war commercial property market in Britain but with a firm focus on London. It covers all the major deals, including the Hilton on Park Lane, the Euston Centre and Elephant & Castle, as well as the Bull Ring in Birmingham. Exactly how the developers found the road to riches is explained in detail, as is the secrecy under which the prevailing legislation allowed them to operate. The 1989 reprint adds a retrospective commentary by Marriott, a former journalist and now board member of investment company Shaftesbury. As forensic as a lawyer’s brief, as gripping as a thriller, it’s indispensable.

    ‘The Property Boom’ by Oliver Marriott (H. Hamilton, 1967; reprinted with new introduction, 1989)

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Chris Rogers writer on architecture and visual culture

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