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A history of council housing in Newark and Sherwood

10 September 2019

As part of our programme of activities to celebrate 100 years of council housing, a special exhibition titled ‘A History of Council Housing’ was unveiled.

Produced in collaboration between Newark and Sherwood Homes and Woodhead Group, the exhibition has three parts; past, present and future.

Background

In the aftermath of the First World War, the Government pledged to build homes “fit for heroes”.

The Housing and Town Planning Act, which received royal assent in July 1919, provided subsidies to support the construction of social homes. This was the first-time social homes had received such backing from central Government, beginning their large-scale construction.

The Act was introduced by Minister of Health Christopher Addison and so it is known as the ‘Addison Act’.

Laying the foundations

In 1918 Newark Corporation decided to build a new housing estate to be known as Beaumondville, off London Road. The houses were quite basic in design and the land was to be purchased from the Duke of Newcastle at £550 an acre. However an alternative plan was put forward by a local group of people drawn from churches, trade unions and the business community. They suggested that our agricultural land could be bought in Hawton parish at £150 an acre, with better quality houses built.

The second plan was adopted and Barry Parker was appointed architect. He had designed Letchworth Garden City which was held throughout Europe as a masterpiece of suburban planning.

Not only were the houses of excellent quality and spacious but they were laid out around open spaces with gardens and playgrounds.

Newark's garden suburb, Hawtonville, was based on the same design. Work on the first 100 council houses began in 1920 and they were completed by 1922 at the then astronomical cost of under £1,000 each.

Each property had a kitchen, living room, parlour, inside lavatory and bathroom and even space for coal and bicycles. With three bedrooms, these were a far cry from the two-up and two-down houses in the town centre of Newark, which had shared water pumps and lavatories in the yards.

However, cost was a problem and the corporation decided to squeeze in more houses and reduce the size of rooms in Parker's design.

Then and now

Below you can scroll left to right to see images of some of the oldest council housing developments next to how they look now. 

Byron Close, Newark 1921 to 2019:

Manthorpe Way, Balderton 1969 to 2019: