Cover 9781849549196

It is the year 1965. Mary Quant introduces the miniskirt to society in her shop in Chelsea; the Dalek-style Post Office Tower is opened; and the Beatles play their last ever live UK tour date. Most importantly, on 1 April, a new system of city government is introduced and London’s thirty-two boroughs are born, revolutionising the capital into the place we know today.

New names had to be chosen, councillors elected and policies formed; these boroughs and the Greater London Council between them took control of housing, roads, planning, schools and social services. Half a century on and, though the GLC was abolished in 1986, the boroughs live on, now working alongside a new metropolitan government headed by mayors Ken Livingstone and, since 2008, Boris Johnson.

In London’s Boroughs at 50, Tony Travers examines the governing system that developed alongside the growing metropolis and, by identifying the unique path each has taken over the years, tells the fascinating story of how our
remarkably diverse boroughs have not only survived, but actively shaped both the city and the lives of its inhabitants in their impressive fifty-year history.


“My advice about this book is simple: buy it today and read it. Read all of it from front to back and then re-read whole sections or even just little bits, either for the fun of it or to help you place some contemporary London trend or event in the context of London government’s sometimes chaotic, sometimes pragmatic, often impressive recent past. The evolution of the capital can be as confusing as it is enthralling. London’s Boroughs At 50 does a terrific job of making sense of it.”

Dave Hill, The Guardian

“A lively survey of local government.” 

Evening Standard

“Travers understands that politics is about the art of the possible. […]There has been a long-running argument about the need for our administrative boundaries and political representatives to better match our everyday geographies of the city. These arguments will never go away and whatever happens, Tony Travers will have something interesting to say about it.”

LSE Review of Books


The Architects’ Journal
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  • Hardback, 400 pages
  • ISBN: 9781849549196
  • 24 November 2015
  • £25.00

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  • ISBN: 9781785900112
  • 24 November 2015
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