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The experience of suburban modernityHow private transport changed interwar London$
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Michael John Law

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780719089190

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719089190.001.0001

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Pleasure and Peril at the Suburban Roadhouse

Pleasure and Peril at the Suburban Roadhouse

(p.119) 7 Pleasure and Peril at the Suburban Roadhouse
The experience of suburban modernity

Michael John Law

Manchester University Press

In the inter-war Home Counties, the roadhouse, a sizeable country club style location of entertainment and dancing was an iconic destination of consumption and leisure aimed at the wealthier middle classes. These establishments were marketed in newsreels as exclusive and sophisticated but in reality were open to wider groups in a setting that offered anonymity by virtue of their suburban locations. Reflecting this, roadhouses were also used in literature and in cinema as a locus of transgression and danger. Readings of suburbia have concentrated on static analyses of house/home and discussions of suburban mobilities have been confined to commuting, thus reinforcing the centrality of the house. A consideration of mobilities facilitated by the motorcar can produce a more subtle view of the suburban world of the period. In this chapter the roadhouse is shown to form part of a new suburban landscape responding to the development of the wider availability of the automobile and to London’s new arterial roads. The leisure products consumed at the roadhouse were heavily influenced by American cultural exports but were hybridized for local audiences.

Keywords:   Suburbia, London, Inter-war, Roadhouse, Americanisation, Transgression

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