Claiming the Streets

Processions and Urban Culture in South Wales c. 1830-1880

Paul O'Leary

Claiming the Streets

Paul O'Leary

Distributed for University of Wales Press

241 pages | 6 x 9 | © 2012
Cloth $55.00 ISBN: 9780708321720 Published December 2012 For sale in North and South America, Australia, and New Zealand only

In Wales during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries an enormous number of public processions were held by benefit societies. This dense network of organizations paraded the streets during festivals and bank holidays to demonstrate their respectability, orderliness, and sobriety. Claiming the Streets examines these processions, and in doing so, provides an invaluable key to unlock the secrets of the urban culture during this period.

List of Illustrations and Tables

1. Street Processions and Ritual in the Victorian Town
2. Town and Region: the Urban Context
3. Protest, Processions and Stability
4. Ordering the Streets: Friendly Society Processions
5. Sobering the Streets: Temperance and Teetotal Processions
6. Sacralising the Streets: Religion and Urban Space
7. Diversity on the Streets: Corpus Christi and the Salvation Army in the 1870s

Review Quotes
Simon Cordery, Western Illinois University | Victorian Studies
"Offers a case study of the ways in which urban identity from 1830 to 1880 was shaped by the stylized and rarely contested ritual of street processions. Analyzing processions enables O'Leary to reveal the structure of urban life, moving beyond laws and architecture to show the ways in which walking in long, ordered lines with accepted codes of dress and behavior signaled the quest for respectability, a desire for social harmony, and a reach into the past for continuity with customs under threat. . . . A fine example of the ways in which urban history is taking the cultural turn."
Louise Miskell, Swansea University
 “This volume is the first major investigation of processional activity in urban south Wales. It brings to light material that will be new to readers and it offers a refreshing and sometimes challenging new perspective on working-class culture in nineteenth-century south Wales. This book will no doubt become an important reference point, both for urban historians and for readers interested in modern Wales.”
Bill Jones, Cardiff University
 “Paul of Leary’s Claiming the Streets is a glorious read, a magnificent scholarly achievement, and a stunning new contribution to urban history and our understanding of urban cultures and public space in the nineteenth century. Drawing on an impressively rich range of primary material, O’Leary explores the changing nature of civic ceremonials between 1830 and 1880, and the variety of responses to them, with admirable perception and sensitivity to continuities and changes. This innovative and richly nuanced study will be essential reading for anyone interested in the dynamics of nineteenth century processions and their interactions with urban space and urban development.”
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