20 June 2019

‘Homes for heroes’? Bristol and the Housing and Town Planning Act, 1919

In 1914 there were fewer than 100 council houses in Bristol but in 1919 a plan was approved to build 5000.

What had happened to change the stance of a council that had previously displayed nothing but resistance to municipal housing provision? And what did the council do to implement its new plan?

These are the main questions addressed in this paper, which seeks to set local policy and practice in the wider political context created by, first, the war and second, the transition to peace. The 1919 Act provided a generous financial inducement to local authorities and Bristol built good quality houses on four estates, at Hillfields (Fishponds), Sea Mills, Knowle and St John’s Lane (Bedminster).

Only 1180 houses were completed before the scheme was terminated by central government. Key conclusions are that the housing scheme should be seen as a temporary response to an immediate crisis, and that it did nothing to help the poorest and least well housed.

Speaker: Peter Malpass is Professor Emeritus at UWE Bristol

This is a UWE Regional History Centre talk.