Portillo's Hidden History of Britain

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Portillo's Hidden History of Britain, By Michael Portillo. - Hardcover

Portillo's Secret History of Britain presents a compelling and wonderfully evocative history of Britain through the stories of its 'lost' or abandoned places and buildings. The chapters cover a variety of historical themes: Crime and Punishment, Health and Medicine, Defence and Warfare, and Entertainment and Leisure. Using a combination of his own investigations and archive research, plus memories and quotations from the contributors he interviewed for the series, Michael Portillo explains what the buildings were used for and by whom, why they were abandoned, and what they can tell us about our past. For example:

* Learn what the ruins of London Road Fire and Police Station in Manchester reveal about the history of the emergency services in the last 100 years

* How Bradford's art deco Odeon cinema encapsulates a century of film-making and movie-going

With evocative text that brings each location vividly to life, Michael Portillo describes the building and its activities in its heyday and compares this past life with its faded grandeur or melancholic abandonment seen today. Filled with fascinating insights and observations, his narrative provides a compelling and original perspective on Britain's social and military history.

Portillo's Hidden History of Britain features deserted villages, abandoned prisons, closed-down cinemas, empty hospitals, derelict military bases, sewers and much more. Complementing the text are 32 pages of atmospheric and informative photographs, including 'then' and 'now' images of the locations, which pointedly juxtapose their former glory with their present-day destitution.

Abandoned prisons, closed-down cinemas, empty hospitals and derelict military bases ... there is a wealth of crumbling buildings across Britain; untouched for decades and frozen in time. Why has an entire village in Wiltshire, completely deserted in 1943, been left vacant ever since? How did a military hospital in Aldershot become the birthplace of plastic surgery?

In Portillo's Hidden History of Britain, his captivating companion to the Channel 5 series, Michael Portillo combines the skills of historian and detective as he investigates some of Britain's most interesting 'lost' buildings. Themes covered include crime and punishment, health and medicine, defence and warfare, and entertainment and leisure. Through his own rigorous investigations, archival research and contributor interviews, Portillo tells us what these many intriguing buildings were used for and by whom, why they were abandoned, and what they can reveal to us about our past.

Evocative and authoritative, and filled with fascinating insights and observations, Portillo's narrative provides a compelling and original perspective on Britain's social and military history.