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Brickfields Homes through time
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Pre WWII Homes

The huge growth in population during Queen Victoria’s reign, which ended in 1901, meant that the housing problems carried over into the twentieth century. Many people could not afford the train fare to travel on the new railways so had to live close to where they worked. Therefore housing around the city, factories and canals was crowded.

On top of the problem of the slums there was not much land left in London to build on. So the government of the day gave the local councils the power to build homes to replace the old slum houses. To save space they built blocks of flats.

The first council flats were like those in the picture on the right, they were four or five storeys high and made of red brick. You got to each front door by walking along the balconies on the outside of the building.

The councils’ desire to clean up the slums did not stop there. They also opened laundries and public baths and even disinfected people’s belongings before they went to live in their new council homes! People who could afford the train fares began to move further away and places on the outskirts of cities called suburbs or suburbia emerged. As there was more space they lived in houses rather than flats. The style of houses varied a lot as people in the suburbs tended to own their own homes.

Although a lot of people in the city centre still had outside toilets the new houses in the suburbs had indoor bathrooms and hot and cold water piped to their taps. Some lucky people even had TV. The BBC broadcast the first public TV service in 1936 to the London region and by the next year 9,000 sets had been sold in London, a lot of them prompted by the broadcasting of George VI’s coronation that year. TV was closed down in 1939 when the country went to war but by then 20,000 homes in Britain had a TV.

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1930'S council block in Hackney.
1930'S council block in Hackney.
A 1930's suburban home.
A 1930's suburban home.
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