Homes for Heroes - Housing from 1919 - 1946

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‘Homes for Heroes’
Housing from 1919 - 1946

Module Code: SS2031N

“What is our task? To make Britain a fit country for heroes to live in”. David Lloyd George , Wolverhampton 1918

Homes for Heroes

Housing from 1919 - 1946

The subject of this essay is Homes for Heroes, Housing from 1919 - 1946. The essay will start with the myth of Lloyd George’s homes for heroes statement. Following this we will move on and look at the history behind what made Lloyd George make his comment, which would of course be the condition of the housing stock in England and Wales at the time, touch upon the subject of conscription and the Great War before moving on to numerous Housing Acts of the era along with what the availability or lack of availability of new housing meant both to working classes and the slum dwellers whilst covering how the economy impacted the ability to build new homes.. The essay will then move on to post WWII building and the urgency of housing after the war, with a glance at the Beveridge Report which included housing, before concluding.

“What is our task? To make Britain a fit country for heroes to live in”. David Lloyd George (Taken from a speech made by Lloyd George in Wolverhampton on the 24th November 1918)

Prior to the First World War the housing stock was almost exclusively private, but this was set to change.  During the First World War, in addition to the recruits already in the army, over 4.27 million were recruited from England and Wales (Baker: 2011).  Compulsory National Service (CNS)(Military Service Act 1916) was introduced when the steady voluntary stream of men seemed to dry up, CNS allowed for all single men aged 18 to 41 to be enlisted, however with so many men taking army medicals, it also revealed the state of the nation's health (Baker: 2010), in Britain many had been raised in poor living conditions and was for many seen as the norm (Nassau: 2010),  During the 1918 election, David Lloyd George said “What is our task?  To make Britain a fit country for heroes to live in.”  Protests both in the UK and amongst deployed troops raised the fear of insurrection in some people's minds. Lloyd George when discussing housing, noted to the cabinet at the time “The people had been promised reform time and time again, yet still nothing had been done... we must give them that conviction even if it costs a hundred million pounds, what is that compared to the stability of the state?” discussed on The Great Estate: The Rise & Fall of the Council House (22 May 2012) (Crisp; 1998)

This fear of insurrection and the apparent need to appease the masses was this translated into a commitment to housing through The Housing and Town Planning Act 1919 (Addison Act) which started local authority involvement in the management and supply of affordable municipal housing in England and Wales, discussed on The Great Estate: The Rise & Fall of the Council House (22 May 2012) (Smith & Whysall: 1990).

Even though a horrifying number of men had been killed in the war, there were still millions who needed to be demobilised; many of these had been left disabled from the war. The need for suitable homes and jobs was a task initially assigned to the Ministry of Reconstruction but in June 1919, just as the Ministry should have been at its peak of activity it was disbanded along with many other wartime committees. (BBC: 2012).

With The Housing and Town Planning Act 1919 Lloyd George acknowledged the need for housing in Britain. Taking inspiration from one of the first ever housing schemes in the country Letchworth (Garden City) designed and built by Raymond Unwin and unveiled and financed by Ebenezer Howard in 1903. (Miller; 2002)(Howard; 2009) (King: 2011) New homes were to be built around the country with estates of 2, 3, 4 and 5 bedroomed homes meeting the Tudor Walters standard, this standard gave generously sized rooms and gardens large enough to encourage people to grow their...
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