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The State of Stamford's Housing at the end of the Great War

Chris Hunt 2022

At the General Election held in 1918. Lloyd George, a Liberal politician, and Prime Minister of the War Coalition Government, called for "a country fit for heroes to live in". If not fully accepted by all political parties, it was one that none could argue against. It was therefore not surprising that the resulting elected Coalition Government of which nearly two thirds were Conservatives Members of Parliament, followed this ethos by carrying out a number of reforms championed by their junior partners, the Liberal Party. One of these revolved around improving the housing stock for working class families.

A commissioned Parliamentary report on housing was produced by the Tudor Walters Committee in November 1918. This led to the The Housing, Town Planning, &c. Act of 1919. The recommendation of the committee and the subsequent Act set the standards for council house design in the inter-war years.

It was in this atmosphere that the Borough of Stamford Medical Officer of Health, Mr E.A.Hutton Attenborough M.B. B.S. presented his 1918 report to the town’s Health Committee in March 1919. Housing was a major concern and he stated that he would like to see upwards of 200 houses built to replace those he wished to see closed. And that these new houses should be built as a Garden City, either singly or in pairs, and not to be more than eight to the acre. Once built he stated that he would ask the Council to close every court in Stamford and also numerous streets. Not only closed, but demolished, thereby improving the ‘supply of air’ to adjacent properties and also allowing the widening of some roads in the Borough.

As to the list of streets to be demolished in whole or in part:

1) Water Street.

2) North Street, including Belgrave Terrace and School Terrace.

3) East Street and Hope Terrace.

4) Elm Street.

5) Gas Street, Stokoe’s Buildings and Milner’s Row.

6) Welland Street and Tenter Lane.

7) Wharf Road, from St George’s School House to St Leonard’s Street.

8) North side of St Leonard’s Street, except Cornstall Buildings.

9) Brazenose Lane.

10) Bath Row.

11) Sheep Market, Castle Buildings. 12) Austin Street and Austin Friar’s Lane.

13) Eight Acres and Foundry Road.

Besides these streets the Medical Officer of Health stated that there were numerous other houses dotted around the town which needed to be closed, and that there were some betterclass houses in the ‘condemned streets’ which his remarks did not apply to.

Concerns were also expressed over the sewerage system in the town and the supply of fresh water, neither were adequate, even by the standards of the day. As to the sewerage system, this had been improved before the Great War, but was still far from perfect and some expensive alterations and additions were necessary. The report also raised concerns over the Water Supply, both in quantity and quality and that fresh steps were needed to provide the town with a pure and plentiful supply. It was his understanding that the Stamford St Martin’s and Wothorpe Water Works Company, whose proprietor was The Most Hon. The Marquess of Exeter was consulting experts on this matter.

The Medical Officer of Health was of the firm opinion that the Borough Council should now procure powers from the Local Government Board to build at least 200 houses and that as these were built, then an equal number of the worst houses should be closed (and demolished). And that under such a State-aided housing scheme the first too benefit should be those who were living under conditions dangerous to health.

The then private sector developers were continuing to build private housing after the War on the eastern edge of the town along Doughty Street and Rutland Road and subsequently Drift Road, Drift Avenue and Drift Gardens. But, it was the Borough’s Council House Policy with the development of the council house estates north and south of New Cross Road and the gradual condemning of the slums in the centre of the town, that so radically changed the shape of the town in the 1920’s and 1930’s, and improve the living conditions

Aided by Government Legislation and the Medical Officer of Health’s Report presented to the Council in 1919 kick-started the post-war expansion of the town.

A print version can be downloaded HERE

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