Following a sheltered childhood and a sequestered education in Cambridge, and having missed out on the swinging sixties, Alec Forshaw was ready for a dose of the wider world. London in the early 1970s was where the lights shone brightest. In reality, it was still a city struggling to find its post-war identity, full of declining industries and derelict docklands, a townscape blighted by undeveloped bomb sites, demonic motorway proposals and slum clearance schemes. The streets were full of costermongers and greasy-spoon cafes, but enlivened by ghettos of immigrants and student culture. Ideas of traffic constraint and recycling rubbish were in their infancy. It was a decade which saw the three-day week, the Notting Hill riots and the last of the anti-Vietnam war protests.
This sequel to Growing Up in Cambridge portrays the London of over thirty years ago as it appeared to a young man in his twenties, finding his feet, coming of age, and stumbling across the sights and sounds of an extraordinary city.
Alec Forshaw is a London resident who has pursued a varied career as a town planner, historic buildings architect, lecturer, and musician. He is currently a trustee of the Churches Conservation Trust and the author of various books about London, including Growing up in Cambridge.