The Burnley Dog War: the Politics of Dog-Walking and the Battle over Public Parks in Post-Industrial Britain

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Abstract

This article investigates controversies surrounding dog walking and dog fouling in 1970s and early 1980s Britain, focusing on the microhistory of a series of events in a Lancashire mill town that became known as the ‘Burnley Dog War.’ A ban on dog walkers from Burnley's main public parks triggered a highly publicised seven-year struggle over access. On one level, the park ban served as a rallying cry for dog lovers across Britain, widening the dividing line between dog owners and dog haters. On another level, it constituted a struggle between antagonists over questions of belonging and exclusion in a town devastated by large-scale deindustrialisation. The dog war stimulated combatants to interrogate the nature and quality of their townscape and their sense of civic identity, the analysis of which allows scrutiny of the impact of deindustrialisation upon their sense of self and place. During the conflict, various aspects of the town's economic history, civic traditions, and landscapes, were alternately disavowed, recovered, rearticulated and contested in relation to its post-industrial present. As it will be shown, the Burnley dispute over dog walking and dog fouling serves as a lens for exploring post-industrial fractiousness along class lines.
Original languageEnglish
JournalTwentieth Century British History
Early online date11 Jan 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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