100 years of social housing

Bolton’s heritage uncovered

In 1919, Government gave local councils the opportunity to build state-owned, low-rent homes for the first time. It was a landmark decision; one which would transform the lives of thousands of families in the post-war era, and for decades to come. With Government funding and a workforce keen to return to work, housing estates quickly sprung up across the country.

To mark the centenary, a research team at Bolton at Home has set up a project to chronicle Bolton’s 100-year history of housing. By digging through the town’s archives and council records, we’ve uncovered a treasure trove of photographs and information that tells the story of Bolton’s social housing heritage.

Over the next six editions of Tap4, we’ll be serialising Bolton’s story. In this issue we look at the 1920s – come and take a trip with us down memory lane.


Bolton Journal 26/9/1919 - Work gets underway on the Platt Hill Housing Scheme.

Post-war Britain saw an acute shortage of housing following a four-year break in private housebuilding as men went to war. Inflated building costs and a lack of materials made it impossible for private builders to offer homes that average families could afford. The end of the War also saw a new social attitude forming with Government focusing its attention on national responsibility. It gave rise to Lloyd George’s famous promise of ‘homes fit for heroes’, referring to the soldiers returning from war.

So in 1919, Government introduced The Housing and Town Planning Act 1919 – also known as the Addison Act (after Christopher Addison, the politician and social reformer). This gave local authorities the power and means to build their own homes.

In Bolton, the council took out a seven-page supplement in the Journal to announce plans to build three new municipal estates in 1919. Work started later that year on the first estate, in Platt Hill, Deane, where 190 homes were built.

Working class families from the cotton mills and local mines were eager to get on the waiting list for a brand new ‘corporation’ home.

The Addison Act houses were usually three-bedroom properties with lounge and scullery, and sometimes with a parlour. Some had two, four, or even five bedrooms, as well as large back gardens intended for vegetable growing.

Bolton Journal 9/4/1919 - The first flag has been hoisted at Platt Hill to denote the completion of bricklaying in one pair of houses.

Bolton Journal 3/9/1920 - The Mayor and members of the Town Council visited Platt Hill, Deane, to open the first completed municipal house.

From Bolton Journal and Guardian, September 1920

‘The Mayor yesterday afternoon had the unique distinction of opening the first municipal house in the town…within the next day or two it will become the home of a discharged soldier and his wife and child, who have not had a home of their own.’

Platt Hill Estate.

Going into the 20s, the next estate to be built was Crompton Fold at Breightmet, with 500 homes planned. This was a difficult site to develop and there were delays with the land purchase so building didn’t start until 1924.

Scorton Avenue, Crompton Fold Estate.

The 1920s also saw a growing sense of civic pride. In 1928 Bolton Council held a Civic Week to celebrate all that was good about the town and to promote local trade and manufacturing. As part of this celebration two temporary showhouses were built in the town hall square.

Bolton Civic Week 1928.

Bolton Civic Week 1928.

The third development to be built in the 1920s was the Brazley Estate in Horwich. This was overseen by Horwich District Council and created another 120 homes. So far, we’ve been unable to source any pictures from the estate’s early days. If you have any pictures of the estate being built or just after it was finished, we’d love to hear from you. Phone us on 01204 329714 or email news@boltonathome.org.uk.

In the next edition of Tap4, we’ll be looking at housing in the 1930s – a boom time for council house building and civic pride.

Credit: news cuttings and images courtesy of the Bolton News/Newsquest and Bolton Library Archives.

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