Page:Old Towns and New Needs.djvu/30

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OLD TOWNS AND NEW NEEDS

elevation of the old Vestries into Boroughs, is a tribute to the enormity of the process of absorption in spite of the fact that this decentralising is counteracted and neutralised by the over-control of the County Council.

The fate of the shop centres is another symptom worth notice. Villages in process of absorption naturally grew. In fact, it was their growth that assisted the absorption by joining the ever increasing village group to the town group. The increased population made increased trade, and the village of Hackney for example turned its High Street into a bustling thoroughfare of shops. Though brought into closer touch with London it nevertheless developed its own trade resources and became a trade centre. But this centre soon had further centres outside it and became more than a mere passage or thoroughfare. For a time the transit of more passengers past the shops increased their notoriety and their trade, until the increasing speed of locomotion and the improvement of large shopping opportunities in central London began in recent days to withdraw custom from the Hackney centre.

Here we see a series of fairly rapid changes of economic equilibrium producing shifts of trade centre too swift and too uncertain to allow any established groundwork for a town-planner's schemes.

Parallel with these economic changes is a subtle, social and architectural change equally baffling to scientific study.

When land becomes vacant near enough to the town (by the town's advances) to be available for suburban building, it is rapidly occupied by builders and filled with houses of