On Monday 9th October, historian, author, columnist and television presenter Dominic Sandbrook delivered KEHS’ second PA sponsored lecture at the Ruddock Performing Arts Centre.
Sandbrook, who grew up in Shropshire, provided a whistle stop tour of the history of the West Midlands beginning the lecture by highlighting the nostalgic fantasy of rural Englishness created by politicians and writers alike. He also talked about the devastating effect of the German air raids during World War Two which resulted in the destruction of 13,000 buildings paving the way for town planner and city surveyor Herbert Manzoni to re-model the city! Manzoni’s aim was to create the most forward-looking city in Europe with no expense spared! For example, £40 million was spent on the city centre, £25 million on creating the inner ring road and £5 million designing and then building the Bull Ring. Sandbrook stated that by the 1970s such modernisation and so called regeneration had come to symbolise all that had gone wrong with modern day town planning. However, he ended the lecture on a largely positive note, focusing on the changing demographic nature of the city, emphasising the role of sport in promoting tolerance and creating a multi ethnic sense of Britishness. Everyone present was encouraged to reflect on the importance of learning from the past.
The evening concluded with a question and answer session from a very enthusiastic and captivated audience. The subsequent discussions touched on various issues regarding Birmingham’s role in modern day Britain and, in particular, how nostalgia is reflected in the very DNA of the West Midlands which may even have accounted for the region’s pro-Brexit vote in the 2016 referendum.
Many thanks once again to the Parents’ Association for sponsoring our Academic Lecture programme.