Conference Contribution Details
Mandatory Fields
McClelland, A. and Boyle, M.
Conserving (London)Derry: the evolving place of urban conservation in an ‘edgy’ historic city
The Urban History Group Annual Conference
Royal Holloway, University of London
Oral Presentation
Optional Fields
(London)Derry is a quintessential ‘edge’ city on the northwestern periphery of Europe, located in a contested border region of the UK, and on a prospective frontier with the EU. The ‘edginess’ of the city is exemplified in a different sense by its centrality to the political and social upheavals of Northern Ireland in the late twentieth century. Indeed, for some in the 1960s, ‘Unionist Derry’ represented ‘Ulster’s Panama’, and the city became a focal point for both the rise of the civil rights movement and the subsequent collapse of the Stormont Parliament in 1972 in the aftermath of Bloody Sunday. It remains internally dissected by innumerable natural and manmade boundaries and interfaces, most starkly illustrated by the physical and mental separation of the predominantly Catholic (Nationalist) ‘Cityside’ from the majority Protestant (Unionist) ‘Waterside’ by the River Foyle. Historically, the seventeenth century walls acted as a defensive barrier and subsequently shaped the urban morphology and development of the city, with their meaning and symbolism also contested in a divided community. This paper will explore the evolving place of urban conservation from the late 1960s when the James Munce Partnership prepared the first comprehensive plan for the city. It argues that the recent expansion in conservation designations reflects both the wider trends towards heritage inflation elsewhere, in addition to the reorientation of the local economy towards cultural tourism and the related reframing of the ‘post conflict’ narrative of the city. In effect, the official boundaries of the ‘tourist-historic city’ now expand well beyond the walls to embrace the heritage of the Waterside district, while pluralizing the meanings and values ascribed to the local historic environment. Therefore, the paper addresses several of the key themes of the conference in illuminating significant aspects of the recent past in an ‘edgy’ historic city.
European Commission