'Operation motorway': Landscapes of construction on England's M1 motorway

Type Article
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)113-133
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Historical Geography
Volume31
Issue number1
DOI
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2005
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Abstract

Recent years have seen an increasing number of academics attempt to write more process-oriented and 'nonrepresentational' accounts of landscape. Drawing upon this literature, I discuss a number of the movements, materialities, and practices entailed in constructing England's M1 motorway in the late 1950s. The performances, movements and durability of a diverse range of things-including earth-moving machines, public relations brochures, maps, helicopters, senior engineers, aggregate and labourers-are shown to be important to the construction and ordering of the motorway and spaces of the construction company in different times and spaces, with people's experiences or understandings of construction, both now and in the past, emerging through memories, talk and embodied encounters with architectures, texts and artefacts which are assembled, circulated and/or archived. Aerial perspectives assumed a prominent role in depictions of construction, while journalists and engineers frequently drew upon a military vocabulary and alluded to the military nature of the project when discussing the motorway.

Keywords

  • England, M1 motorway, landscape, mobility, transport