The Worst Street in North London Between the Wars
Most studies of the British working-class experience deal with labour aristocrats and the 'respectable poor'. Campbell Bunk gives the first full account of a 'rough', sub-proletarian community and the forces which moulded, changed, and eventually destroyed it.
From the 1880s to the Second World War, Campbell Road, Finsbury Park (known as Campbell Bunk), had a notorious reputation for violence, for breeding thieves and prostitutes, and for an enthusiastic disregard for law and order. It was the object of reform by church, magistrates, local authorities, and social scientists, who left many traces of their attempts to improve what became known as 'the worst street in North London'.
Jerry White offers insight into the realities of life in a 'slum' community, showing how it changed over a 90-year period. Using extensive oral history to describe in detail the years between the wars, White reveals the complex tensions between the new world opening up and the street's traditional culture of economic individualism, crime, street theatre, and domestic violence.
“A more lucid and penetrating analysis of an urban slum would be hard to imagine... A most subtle and powerful evocation of life and labour”
Jeremy Seabrook, Guardian
“A brilliant and searching study... I do not believe that even Henry Mayhew could have done greater or more sympathetic justice to the memory of 'Campbell Bunk' and its inhabitants”
Victor Neuberg, British Book News
“This is an enthralling book which comes as near as possible to understanding an urban community it its environment. It deserves to become a classic”