University of Hertfordshire

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Conflicts of power, landscape and amenity in debates over the British Super Grid in the 1950s

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-103
Number of pages17
JournalRural History
Early online date29 Mar 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2019


The 'Super Grid' network of high-voltage power lines transformed the landscapes of England and southern Scotland in the 1950s. This article examines debates over the siting of pylons, with a focus on the public inquiries into the proposed lines across the Pennines in Lancashire. It brings together archives on electrification from the newly nationalised British Electricity Authority, preservationist groups and local government to reveal deeper insights into processes of local and national decision-making about and popular attitudes to the rural landscape. It uncovers how the public inquiries exposed tensions and differences about the definition of amenity, not just between the electricity industry and preservationists, but also between interests representing urban industrial districts and the National Parks, northern and southern England, and within the preservationist movement. The conflicts over pylons and amenity shows how narratives of landscape preservation were contested and riven with class, region and economic differences in the postwar period.

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