How did the vision turn out in reality? Housing in the 1950s and 60s

spyfleaUrban and Civil

Nov 25, 2013 (3 years and 10 months ago)


Students will use primary evidence to help in their understanding
of how and why housing changed after World War Two.

Students will be able to demonstrate skills in assessing and using
primary evidence, selecting and deploying historical knowledge
appropriately, organising information clearly and coherently, using
specialist vocabulary when appropriate.

Relates to:

OCR History A Unit F961 British History Period Studies

B: Modern 1783


war Britain 1951


EDEXCEL Unit 3 Britain in the Age of the Welfare State, 1945


Unit 2: A Sixties Social Revolution? British Society, 1959

1975, Unit 3: The State and People: Britain 1918


How did the vision turn out in reality?

Housing in the 1950s and 60s

The 1950s and 60s saw wide scale demolition of old homes
which were replaced, in many cases, by large scale housing
estates and tall multi story blocks of flats.

Most of these were built by local authorities (local
councils) to be rented out to people who needed housing.

The councils, and the architects they hired to design
these schemes, had a vision of the future.

How did it work out in practice? What were their real

How did the vision turn out in reality?

Housing in the 1950s and 60s

Buildings are an excellent source of evidence of how people live at
different periods of time

the history of housing in the post war period
can be studied by using the evidence of the homes that were built then.

Look at the following buildings and start to identify;

What were the issues facing local authority housing departments after

What was the vision that council planners and architects had for building
large council estates including high rise tower blocks.

What other motives may have led councils to build this type of housing ?

What has happened to the estates that were built?

Use the
recording sheet
to summarise your findings.

How did the vision turn out in reality?

Housing in the 1950s and 60s

Your initial evidence can be found in the following 10 slides
showing a selection of housing developments from the late
1940s to the 1960s.

You will need to;

Look carefully at each image

what does it tell you about the
development in terms of the impression it makes, its design

Read each of the captions and extract information relating to
4 headings; issues, vision, motives and outcome.

Summarise information on the
recording sheet
under the 4

How did the vision turn out in reality?

Housing in the 1950s and 60s

Read Official list description for more details

Council Housing, Churchill Gardens, Pimlico, Greater London

Churchill Gardens was the most ambitious council housing scheme of the 1940s (1947
51). It was also the first built following an international competition. The architects
were Powell and Moya, architects for Westminster City Council, aged 24 and 25. The
generous sized flats and carefully laid
out grounds and services set new standards of
council housing. It was a model for the post
war era of how to provide housing at the
maximum allowed density of 200 persons per acre. The estate was a mixed development
of 32 blocks of flats, maisonettes and terraced houses with a community centre, day
and nursery schools and shops. This building is Coleridge House one of the first group of
four tower blocks built in 1951. It had 72 flats.

The Lawn, Harlow, Essex

Many new homes were needed in
the 1950s to replace those lost
during World War Two. One
solution to providing a large
number of homes was to build high
rise developments. The Lawn was
built in 1951 and was the first
residential tower block in Britain.
There were two one
bed flats and
two bedsitters on each of the 10
floors. The projecting ends of each
wing were used to give each flat a
facing balcony. In 1952 it
received a Ministry of Health
Housing medal. It was part of
Harlow New Town. Most of the
homes in the New Towns were
rented from the Development

Read official list description for more information

Council Housing, Passfields, Lewisham, Greater London

This block of flats in Bromley Road is one of a development of 4 blocks set in
landscaped gardens. The block included 24 maisonettes, five bedsits and 36 one
bedroom flats. It was designed as low cost public housing in 1949
50 by Fry, Drew and
Partners, the architect was J B Shaw. It was built for Lewisham Metropolitan
Borough by Ove Arup and Partners, engineers. It is an early example of the use of
box frame construction evolved by Ove Arup during the Second World War. The
curved shape was also an innovation and the development won a Festival of Britain
Award. Balconies were seen as important features and these were designed as areas
for drying clothes. This block is of special significance in being one of the earliest to
include maisonettes.

Read official list description for more information

Longmoor Point, Alton East, Wandsworth, Greater London

Longmoor Point is one of 10 blocks of flats
known as 'the Points'. They are part of the
Alton East housing development built in 1951

and designed by the London County Council
Architect's Department Housing Division. They
were based on a reinforced concrete frame put
up on site and clad in grey brickwork to reflect
local house styles. They were the first public
housing in Britain to have mechanically
ventilated lavatories and bathrooms and the
first high housing to be centrally heated. The
blocks each had different patterned tilework at
the entrance so they could be told apart. The
rest of the development is a mixture of terraces
of houses and maisonettes. They were set
informally on a hillside among plants from the
gardens of the Victorian houses previously on
the site. Shops and a school were included in the
development which was planned as a
neighbourhood for 9,500 people.

Read official list description for more information

Great Arthur House, Golden Lane Estate, City of London, Greater London

At the end of World War Two the area between St Paul's
and the City lay devastated. The County of London Plan
decided on mixed commercial use with some housing for the
small number of people who worked in the City. The brief
was for 940 one, two, three or four room flats at the
maximum possible density of 200 persons to the acre. To
achieve this many of the smaller flats had to be in a high
tower. Great Arthur House was built in 1953
7 from
reinforced concrete. The 17 floor building was the first to
break the London County Council's 100 ft height restriction
and was briefly the tallest inhabited building in England.
The flats were designed for single people and couples such
as nurses and policemen who had to live near their work.
The architects for the estate were Chamberlin, Powell and
Bon. They saw it as a purely urban scheme, formal in layout
but creating a sense of place by using colour. Their
philosophy was to use every inch of space and provide a
wide range of facilities on the site, also to separate
pedestrians from traffic. They based this vision on the
work of Le Corbusier. The Golden Lane estate eventually
contained 1400 flats and maisonettes, a swimming pool,
badminton court, bowling green, nursery, playground,
community centre, shops and a pub. The estate was popular
with professionals such as doctors and is still a self
sufficient ‘urban village’. It is seen as the most successful
of England's housing developments from the early 1950s.

Read official list description

for more information

Council Housing, Park Hill, Sheffield, South Yorkshire

The Park Hill housing development was designed and built in 1957
60 by Sheffield
City Corporation. It was formally opened in 1961. The whole development
consisted of 995 flats and maisonettes on 17 acres of land with a density of 192
people per acre. The unit (per flat) cost was £2,800 each. The scheme included 31
shops, 4 pubs, a laundry boiler house, a rubbish disposal system and garages.
Access to the flats was via decks wide enough for a milk float. They were planned
as 'streets in the sky' a way of recreating the community spirit of traditional
streets of terraced housing. Sheffield was one of the few local authority
departments designing imaginative and successful public housing in the 1950s.
This development was its flagship but was not liked by everyone. The development
still dominates the Sheffield skyline and its future has been hotly debated. The
flats are currently (2010) being renovated.

Read official list description for more information

Brooke House, Town Square, Basildon, Essex

This 14 storey tower block of flats was built
in 1960
62. The architect was Anthony B
Davies, chief architect and planner to
Basildon Development Corporation. Sir Basil
Spence was consultant adviser on the town
centre and Ove Arup and Partners were the
structural engineers. Brooke House was
designed to introduce high density housing
into Basildon town centre. It was designed
visually to provide an impressive, tall,
landmark to counterbalance the surrounding
low rise shopping centre. It was built from
concrete, with dark brown handmade brick
cladding and aluminium glazed screens and
windows. The plan is a rectangle with 6 flats
on each floor. The block is raised 8m above
ground on 8 'V'
shaped reinforced concrete
pilotis. Brooke House was named after the
then Minister of Housing and Local
Government, Henry Brooke MP.

Read official list description

for more information

Repton House, Lillington Gardens, Westminster, Greater London

This block of sixteen three
bedroom flats, two one
bedroom flats and two bedsits is
part of the Lillington Gardens Estate. The estate was designed in 1961 by John
Darbourne. The design is based on the nearby Church of St James the Less, with its
striking Victorian red brick. Phase 1 was built in 1964
8, by Darbourne and Geoffrey
Darke, for Westminster City Council. Lillington was the first low rise, high density
public housing scheme to be built. It proved that low rise flats with an interesting
design could accommodate the same number of people per acre (density) as tower
blocks. It influenced the style of council housing from the mid 1960s until the early
1980s. The scheme won many awards including a Ministry of Housing and Local
Government award for good design in 1970. The scheme provided homes for around
2,000 people with a high proportion provided for older people. There were also pubs,
shops, doctors, a community hall and a library. Before the estate was built this part of
Pimlico was mainly older terraced housing.

Read official list description for more information

Council Housing, Trellick Tower, Kensington, Greater London

Trellick Tower is a 30 floor tower block
consisting of 217 flats, six shops, an
office, youth and women's centres. It
was built as part of the Cheltenham
Estate; a mixture of high and low rise
blocks, between Goldbourne Road, the
Westway and the canal. It was designed
between 1968
72 by Erno Goldfinger for
the London County Council. The tower has
a dramatic silhouette with the separate
lift and stair tower linked by bridges to
the flats. Goldfinger was an important
architect who paid a lot of attention to
planning and decorating the interior of
both public areas and the flats
themselves. This block included the best
ideas of the time on high rise council
housing but was one of the last to be
built. By the 1970s the whole idea of
housing families in tall tower blocks was
being questioned.

Read official list description for more information

Council Housing, Everton Heights, Liverpool, Merseyside

These three blocks of high rise flats, Haigh Heights, Canterbury Heights and Crosbie
Heights, were built in 1965 by Liverpool City Council. They were also known as The
Piggeries. They are typical of many blocks of flats that were built from large, pre
concrete panels that were bolted together on site with little attention to design,
amenities or landscaping. Over 60 tower blocks were built in the city between 1956 and
1974, providing more than 5,500 homes. In the 1990s 54 tower blocks were demolished
including these.

Find more information on the inacityliving website

Use the following resources to find more information to add to your recording chart


Find more examples on the
Heritage Explorer

website by searching on 'Council Housing' or 'flat'

can refine your search by period or by place

Find more examples by searching the
Images of England

database of listed buildings

log in to use the
advanced search

start with a search by typing 'flats' into the building type box and selecting the
period 'modern' from the drop down list

General articles

An article from the

newspaper online

Two well researched articles from Wickipedia;
Council House

Tower Block

An article about the architect Erno Goldfinger from the
Design Museum website

Individual estates/buildings

Try a search on Google to find out what has happened to the estates today

a search on Churchill
Gardens led to several useful and reliable websites including a short film on the
BBC website

How did the vision turn out in reality?

Housing in the 1950s and 60s

Use the information that you have added to your recording
sheet to write an essay with the title 'How did the vision turn
out in reality?

Housing in the 1950s and 60s'

Use the 4 sections of the recording sheet to structure the

Explain the housing issues facing government and local
authorities after World War Two

Outline the architects and planners vision for council housing

Explore the other motives that lay behind the housing
developments built in the period

Outline what happened to the estates built and why

Conclude with your opinion on the question, summarising your

How did the vision turn out in reality?

Housing in the 1950s and 60s

Extension work

Find examples of high rise developments in your own locality


do some research to find out when and why they were built and what has
happened to them since.


find information by searching on the web (Heritage Explorer or Images
of England), visiting your local archives or local history library


useful sources would be; old newspapers, old housing committee minutes


speak to local residents and ask for their views

Hold a 'housing committee meeting' attended by the council architect,
planning officer, finance officer, housing officer, local residents

person must outline their vision for future housing and explain their views.
The other students vote for which scheme should go ahead.

How did the vision turn out in reality?

Housing in the 1950s and 60s