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Leisure, luxury and urban specialization in the eighteenth century


This article forms a contribution to the ongoing debate about the nature of an English urban renaissance. We draw on Schwarz's designation of residential leisure towns to explore the spread of leisure and luxury through a broad range of towns. Our analysis reveals that leisure facilities and luxury service and retail provision were widespread, but that residential leisure towns appear as qualitatively different places, the status of which was contingent upon social profile and cultural-economy, rather than demographic, political or socio-economic make up. We conclude by arguing that urban typologies based on specialization should be tempered with older-established and more subjective categorizations based on the status of the town.

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L.D. Schwarz , ‘Residential leisure towns in England towards the end of the eighteenth century’, Urban History, 27 (2000), 5161

L.D. Schwarz , ‘English servants and their employers during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries’, Economic History Review, 52 (1999), 236–56

A. McInnes , ‘The emergence of a leisure town: Shrewsbury 1660–1760’ Past and Present, 120 (1988), 5387

J. Beckett and C. Smith , ‘Urban renaissance and consumer revolution in Nottingham, 1688–1750’, Urban History, 27 (2000), 3150

J. Stobart , ‘Building an urban identity. Cultural space and civic boosterism in a “new” industrial town: Burslem, 1761–1911’, Social History, 29 (2004), 490

J. Stobart and A. Hann , ‘Retailing revolution in the eighteenth century: evidence from north-west England’, Business History, 46 (2004), 171–94

J. Stobart , ‘Culture versus commerce: societies and spaces for elites in eighteenth-century Liverpool’, Journal of Historical Geography, 28 (2002), 474–6

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Urban History
  • ISSN: 0963-9268
  • EISSN: 1469-8706
  • URL: /core/journals/urban-history
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