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During this this Zoom seminar, Alistair Kefford (Leiden) will give a paper on the global expansion of British property developers in the post-war period. Please register in advance by sending an e-mail to

Detail Summary
Date 17 September 2020
Time 15:30 -16:30

This paper surveys the remarkable scope of overseas development activity carried out by British property firms in the decades after 1945 - a period in which British companies were responsible for building offices, shopping centres, hotels, housing, universities, factories, airports and new towns all over the world. I relate these activities firmly to the British imperial project, with its long traditions of overseas commercial activity, but I also show that such overseas activity was dependent upon domestic conditions back in post-war Britain, where a business-friendly, lightly regulated urban redevelopment regime gave rise to a powerful property development sector with close ties to the financial centre of the City of London. The paper thus tracks the ways in which commercial development activity intersected with both national and international political economy, as well as exploring the adaptation of British business to the end of empire. It also sketches out some of the early history and gestation of the fully internationalised and financialised global property development business that operates today.

Alistair Kefford has recently joined the History Department at Leiden University. Prior to this he was a British Academy Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Centre for Urban History, Leicester, where he worked on the history of the UK property sector. His first book, Planning for Affluence: Cities and the Management of Mass Consumerism in Post-war Britain, is forthcoming with Cambridge University Press.