Living Conditions in London

... two rooms to live in when you've got a family of six ...

Photo:Tabard Street, Southwark

Tabard Street, Southwark

Corporation of London, London Metropolitan Archives

The LCC designed and built the estate in order to house the thousands living in poor, overcrowded conditions in inner London.  Although some people came as a direct result of having their original homes demolished, most chose to make the move and had to make the decision that they could afford higher rents and fares. South London was the source of most residents while other areas contributed no more than 10% each to the population. 

Fifty-six percent of the new residents were from Lambeth, Southwark and Wandsworth.*

Studies show that most new residents were not the very poor, but working-class people with steady jobs who were struggling to live decently in inner London. In January 1939, 20% of heads of households were involved in transport, while 18% were in building and decorating. Another 15% described themselves simply as 'labourers', many of whom would also have been involved in the building industry. Eight percent were Post Office workers.**

* Harloe. M. and Issachardoff, R., The organisation of housing (Heinemann, 1974)*

** Hyder, Gerald. St.Helier Estate: the planning and establishment of an LCC housing estate, (Brighton College of Further Education, 1977)

Homesick for London's bustle

The comparison of their new home’s amenities to the conditions in London was overwhelming, but even so, some people found it difficult to adjust to life on the estate.  This was particularly so of the women who missed the bustle, markets and close family contact of London.  The number of opportunities for part-time and piece work were also severely reduced.

To my mother it was like living in the country, because she'd been brought up in North London you know and I think she was quite homesick in a way. She felt as if she was in the wilds somewhere. She seemed to miss the bustle of town. (Peggy Hooper nee Triggs) 


They were such bug-ridden places

Edna Smith

They came out of the slums

Sylvia Barnard (née Cole)

This page was added by Cheryl Bailey on 04/12/2010.
Comments about this page

I now live in my gran's house, which she moved into from brand-new, at the age of 15. She'd moved with her sister and their parents from the East End of London, from cramped conditions. I remember my gran and her sister both saying they were amazed by the space. Middleton Road (Mitcham end) was little more than a country lane when they moved in - it seemed so quiet to them! A lot of difference by the time she died in 1998, still living in the same house.

By Jan
On 29/05/2012

If you're already a registered user of this site, please login using the form on the left-hand side of this page.