UK Housing Wiki

The Interwar period (also interbellum) is understood within Western culture to be the period between the end of the First World War and the beginning of the Second World War in Europe, specifically 11th November 1918 to 1st September 1939. It was marked by turmoil in much of the world, as Europe struggled to recover from the devastation of the First World War. In North America the first half of the interwar period is often seen as one of considerable prosperity (the roaring twenties), but this changed dramatically with the onset of the Great Depression in 1929.

The Great Depression had an effect on Britain, as with many other countries. All industries became sensitive and many shut down as a result of being unable to compete with others. Despite this, many people saw their life improve. Conditions in households were improved and new standards were set. Though, those severely affected by the depression fell into poverty and remained in slums.

The social reforms of the last century continued into the 20th with the Labour Party being formed in 1900, but this did not achieve major success until the 1922 general election. David Lloyd George said after the First World War that "the nation was now in a molten state", and his Housing Act 1919 would lead to affordable council housing which allowed people to move out of Victorian inner-city slums. The slums, though, remained for several more years, with trams being electrified long before many houses. The Representation of the People Act 1918 gave women householders the vote, but it would not be until 1928 that equal suffrage was achieved.

A short lived post-war boom soon led to a depression that would be felt worldwide. Particularly hardest hit were the north of England and Wales, where unemployment reached 70% in some areas. The General Strike was called during 1926 in support of the miners and their falling wages, but little improved, the downturn continued and the Strike is often seen as the start of the slow decline of the British coal industry. In 1936 two hundred unemployed men walked from Jarrow to London in a bid to show the plight of the industrial poor, but the Jarrow March, as it was known, had little impact and it would not be until the coming war that industrial prospects improved.

The population began to rapidly increase sparking massive housing developments, especially, following the depression, in the 1930s. Once relatively rural areas began to merge together in cities to create suburbs. Large semi-detached houses became the norm as they were constructed along main roads in what is known as ribbon development. This cut large swathes of land off from roads making it impossible to develop without the demolition of houses to create access to it. Laws banned ribbon development and these plots of land were later filled.

The vast majority of interwar estates remain. The semi-detached homes are usually bay-fronted with three bedrooms, an upstairs bathroom, two reception rooms, a kitchen and a large garden. These were large family homes which still remain popular today. This marked an improvement in family living as slum clearances had commenced.

The period following this was the postwar period, which marks the years after World War II.