Britain and the motorway club: the effect of European and North American motorway construction on attitudes in Britain, 1930-1960

Type Article
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)106-133
Number of pages28
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 01 Feb 2012
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This article examines British attitudes to motorway construction during the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, stressing the importance of international events to Britain's motorway building policy. It shows that while national social, political and economic imperatives, movements, and contexts were clearly of primary importance in debates about motorway construction in Britain, these often emerged amidst discussions about road-building developments abroad, particularly in mainland Europe and North America. The article focuses on British reactions to the construction of the German National Socialist Party's Autobahnen in the 1930s, examining how the Autobahnen became embroiled in a spectacular propagandist performance of the modern German nation. Finally, the paper examines the attention paid to European and U.S. motorways in postwar Britain, as engineers, landscape architects, designers, and civil servants undertook research to help inform their plans and designs for British motorways.


  • Germany, Great Britain, motoroways, nationalism, transport