German air raids during the Second World War damaged many British cities. Plymouth is one of the few cities in Britain that has persisted in its aim of comprehensively rebuilding the gutted city centre. It is also one of the few cities whose city centre plans gained approval during the 1940s from the Ministry responsible for town planning. Plymouth's plan was elaborated by Patrick Abercrombie, an eminent planner of the day, and Paton Watson, the city's engineer. Most other blitzed cities were not able to obtain a ministerial approval, and some ultimately abandoned their initial plans. This article considers the relationship between the government and Plymouth, especially from the viewpoint of the Ministry of Town and Country Planning, established during the war. In examining the Plymouth case through the prism of the new Ministry and comparing it with the circumstances of other blitzed cities, this article shows that the attitudes of the Ministry officials in their relationships with blitzed cities were at fault, and that they were consequently unable to intervene in a sufficiently effective and timely way.
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