Street cred;Reviews;HistoryScience;Cross-phase;Books

9th April 1999 at 01:00
A STREET THROUGH TIME. By Anne Millard. Illustrated by Steve Noon. Dorling Kindersley pound;12.99

This is a familiar idea, handled with a freshness of touch and an eye for detail that give it irresistible appeal.

In 14 captivating double-spread illustrations, we follow an English city street from its earliest stone age traces to the frenetic hustle of the present day.

Page by page, people live their everyday lives against a setting of continuity and change. Iron-users, Romans, Vikings and Normans all transform the little town, and leave their traces in it and around it. Ships come; there's a bridge again, and merchants' houses, and a church. Plague comes, not once but many times, and so does civil war. Elegance comes, and so do coal mines, kilns and smoking mills.

And all the time Steve Noon's wonderful drawings - part Breugel, part Hogarth - allow us to peek behind the walls as if into so many dolls' houses. It's all here - the births and deaths, pastimes and pleasures, rogues and rascals, toys and trades. The bonus is that even on this scale, it is accurate. Look at the architecture, for example, or details of the dress, or - in every picture - the loos and drains.

For ages eight to 80 this is good history and good fun.

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