5 Videos on the Last 100 Years of Housing in the UK

by Novara Reporters

26 February 2014

The housing crisis in the UK is becoming an unavoidable issue for mainstream politicians and media alike, and is set to remain a key agenda item over the coming years. Listed below are five short videos examining themes which link James Butler’s interview with a Balfron Tower evictee, the recent acclaimed LRB article ‘Where will we live?’ by James Meek  and the recent Novara FM show on housing, where Meek’s piece is discussed.

1. Housing Problems [1935]

The hope of new housing is compared with the horror of the slums that had emerged before. Especially interesting are the opinions of the residents of the slums on why the housing is so uninhabitable.

2. Nick Broomfield / Ethel Singleton – Behind the Rent Strike [1972 / 73]

After a sustained period of building and the creation of socialised housing, tensions begin to arise around the maintenance of the housing system. This video shows that even before Thatcher there were problems emerging for social housing residents.

3. Hackney Vandal Patrol (Kingsmead) [1976]

In this video we see how problems emanated not just within the housing system itself, but through the effects of housing and other life issues becoming intertwined.

4. Conflict DVD (Part 3) [2002]

Celebrating the cultural output arising from the situation of social housing, this video shows a grime music session at the top of a tower block in Stratford broadcasting on the famous pirate radio station Deja FM. The towers provided perfect opportunities for broadcasting the occupants’ own signals, and projecting their lives into a world in which they were otherwise ignored.


5. Kind of Solid Concrete [2012]

Reflections from the residents of Robin Hood Gardens, a 1970s estate in London which started being demolished in 2013. Their words echo themes brought out in discussions about ‘regeneration’, gentrification and the social cleansing of inner cities.

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