chapter  7
18 Pages

Union Street

More than simply a metaphor for the coming together of Plymouth’s Three Towns?
WithKim Stevenson, Judith Rowbotham

The modern city of Plymouth is unique. Created in October 1914 to pool resources during the Great War, the new Corporation of Plymouth was a necessary and pragmatic amalgamation of the pre-existing Three Towns of Plymouth, East Stonehouse and Devonport. Each of these geographically separate and autonomous towns had their own community identity, governmental institutions and civic pride, but they were physically and symbolically linked by a single thoroughfare: Union Street. This chapter suggests that the deliberate designation of such a unifying physical construct was of more contextual social significance than a simple boundary marker. Reflecting on and comparing the respective social strata of these three communities, it becomes apparent that the physical presence of Union Street operated as and represented an emblematic metaphor that invoked and stimulated much informal unification already evident across the Three Towns prior to amalgamation. Interestingly, such examination reveals that urban conflation and social alliances tended to be more prevalent across non-elite levels than among local elites, where division was often more likely.