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Council Estates

The problem of affordable housing for the working classes had started to be tackled at the turn of the century by Arthur Wakerley in North Evington, where he planned and built a suburb, and by the Anchor Boot and Shoe Co-operative Society, who built Humberstone Garden Suburb through the creation of a worker's co-operative. Leicester had even had its first council flats built on Winifred Street in 1900.

In 1918, Lloyd George proclaimed that he wanted 'to make Britain a fit country for heroes to live in', and there must be good quality housing for the working classes. Government Housing Acts had already started addressing the problem (there were several from 1890-1936) and the first council housing estate in Leicester was erected on Coleman Road, around 1919. These houses had three bedrooms upstairs and a kitchen, living room, and parlour downstairs. Around 750 houses were built in this period, and another 640 or so under the terms of a further Housing Act of 1923, although initially the projected need was for ten thousand new homes.

Across Leicester different designs were used for houses, one of the main considerations being whether the house had a parlour or not - rents were higher if there was one. Attempts to build houses more cheaply resulted in Arthur Wakerley's £299 houses of 1922. The half-timbered cottage style of houses on the Narborough Road (1927), brought the feel of the country into the city (although the Assistant City Architect, Mr Benson, later recalled that people didn't take to pieces of wood being stuck on the outside of their houses and this 'experiment' wasn't a success!).

However, not enough houses were being built and space was running out in the city, so the planners had to look to the estates on the edge of the city for more room. In 1924, building was started on 1,000 concrete, and 500 brick, houses on the Park Estate, now known as the Saffron Lane Estate. The concrete homes were known as 'Boot' houses, after the Sheffield based firm Henry Boot and Sons. Concrete houses were seen to be quick to build, using a fashionable material, but defects in the construction were soon apparent and although 500 more concrete houses were built at Braunstone, brick was used thereafter.

The perceived success of the Park Estate scheme convinced the authorities of the advantages of the development of large sites and they turned their attention to Braunstone.

Hear a description of people moving onto the Saffron Lane Estate


Estate and Park

Braunstone Village


Further Reading



Last updated: 16/1/04
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