The resilience of sailortown culture in English naval ports, c.1820-1900

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Sailortowns were districts in ports where sailors visited, often lived and were entertained. However, while historians have made significant strides in exploring sailors in merchant ports, naval sailortowns have largely been overlooked. It will be argued here that in the English naval towns of Portsmouth and Plymouth, sailortown exhibited a sense of ‘Otherness’ and a subaltern resilience to the cultural hegemony of civic progress and modernity during the second half of the nineteenth century. Those living in naval sailortowns were geographically and culturally marginalised from the centres of economic and political power and their relationship with the civic and naval authorities was one which varied between compromise and resistance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)72-95
JournalUrban History
Issue number1
Early online date6 Mar 2015
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2016


  • Sailortown
  • civic port towns
  • culture
  • navy


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