Monthly Archives: May 2022

20th century Housing History for the Humberside Region 42.

One of the most dramatic features of the landscape history of Britain in modern times has been the physical expansion of urban areas with the concomitant loss of once rural areas and of once independent or suburban communities. The map above, copied from page 9 of the Victoria County History, East Yorkshire, Vol. 1, Kingston-upon-Hull, shows the physical expansion of Hull across the last two centuries, the area of the town when constrained within the medieval town walls (until the 1760s) shown by the shaded area. In Barton on Humber the physical extent of the town was constrained within the town’s ramparts (the Castledykes) until linear development along Westfield and West Acridge Roads plus the industrialisation of the Humber floodplain, while Beverley was also constrained within its ramparts (including their four or five stone-built gates with only North Bar surviving) prior to the gentrification of North Bar Without and Beckside industrialisation.
The stages of urban expansion are often similar between communities nationwide although the timing of the stages varies between communities. One early stage in the process is ‘ribbon development’, whereby the headlands of fields adjoining arterial roads were sold-off for housing. Ribbon development housing was usually built to appeal to households with personal means of transport as it would usually be some time before public transport systems were extended. A subsequent stage was ‘back-filling’ when the rest of these fields, and fields beyond probably, were sold for building by which time a public transport system had usually been extended to the locality. Such housing areas were likely to be more dense than the ribbon housing, cheaper in value and, over time, would lead to the better off households fleeing further afield.
Another feature of Urban expansion was the implanting of large urban communities on the edge of existing urban areas; the determinants here being cheaper land prices and availability of land, the two being inter-dependent. Often in the 20th century these were from day-one working class communities so that life in the new homes was immediately undermined by poor rapid transport systems and poor infrastructure.
Some factors that underpin urban expansion today are, THE MARKET(?), the economic cycle, government incentive funding for house purchase, conservation areas and listed buildings, land availability, building technology, availability of building materials, a suitable labour force, enforcement of building standards, a balance between tenant’s and landlords right’s (the rise of ‘buy to rent’ general public landlords being a pernicious development) and population trends.
Here endeth the current topic comprised of 42 blogs.

20th century Housing History for the Humberside Region 40.

Bransholme public housing estate benefitted from a more thoughtful approach than had been the case at Orchard Park. For one thing, large areas of open ‘green’ space were left undeveloped thus giving much of the estate an expansive, rather than congested, feel, although in immediate localities the ‘terrace’ format was retained. However, these ample open spaces are partly a result of subsequent demolition of some housing blocks, notably the blocks of flats/maisonettes. There was/is ample garage provision and open space parking space in recognition of the car having become almost a necessity for many households of all classes in society.
Bransholme also benefitted from a purpose-built shopping centre and, later, a health centre, which remain much-used assets, especially as the city centre, a long bus ride away, has suffered from the demise of so many of its assets. Orchard Park was originally planned to have a shopping precinct but plans were dropped, a long-term disappointment for many residents. A modern attractive hub building for the estate, built just over a decade ago, reflects some investment in the locality and remains undamaged by vandalism or graffiti.
One of Bransholme’s great assets is the large Noddle Hill Nature Reserve on the eastern side of the estate. I still have not researched its history but am sure that the lake and hills were man-made as the estate was under construction. Without doubt the best nature reserve in the region. Orchard Park also now has an alongside nature reserve on previously scrubland between the estate and eastern Cottingham with another access point off Endyke Lane. Press stories of burnt-out cars and drug taking on such areas generates apathy and cynicism but ‘below the periscope’ are many who appreciate them.
And so to the 1980s.
(to be continued – but not for long)

20th century Housing History in the Humberside Region 39.

(I wanted to add two pictures of white flowering wild flowers currently (see blog 37), daisies and jack-by -the-hedge, this one of the vernacular names for this plant. However, this site as set-up does not like photos from my phone rather than camera, it wouldn’t upload the picture of daisies at all and the one above of jack-by-the-hedge is sideways?).
The Bransholme Estate, or satellite town, was Hull council’s largest attempt to solve the city’s post-war housing shortage, this resulting from some natural increase in population, replacement for war-damaged housing, the demolition of unfit housing and latterly unprecedented migration from Europe. Nevertheless, the housing shortage was somewhat relieved by a ‘flight from the town’ by some who could afford mortgages for properties in the suburbs (in the East Riding of Yorkshire), in Beverley and, latterly, in Barton and by a slow-down in natural population increase.
Prior to the building of Bransholme this area east of the River Hull and north of the communities of Sutton and Stoneferry had been an agricultural area typified by fields of permanent pasture and a few scattered farms. As elsewhere, this part of the River Hull floodplain had been difficult to drain. During the Second World War part of the area was taken over as a site where barrage balloons were constructed for the defence of Hull, a basis for the Women’s Auxillary Air Force and, later, R.A.F. Sutton, the site only being disposed of in 1961 (much of the land bought by Hull City Council).
The housing on Bransholme, and also later North Bransholme, was mostly built between the late 1960s and throughout the 1970s, the population now being about 30000. Again, as with Orchard Park, prefabricated wall units were much used, this later being identified as a major cause of damp problems in many of the houses.
(to be continued)

20th century Housing History for the Humberside Region 39.

(This is post number 39 because the last one should have been number 38, not 37 again).
With a development like Orchard Park Estate it’s hard to think of it just in an historical context as reputation-wise it comes with so much baggage. Ironically it’s the East European tenants who take it at face value as they don’t have preconceived subjective opinions – although I have talked to one who lived there and was appauled at the behaviour of some tenants. The layout plan for the estate was compromised from day one. The idea of separate units (‘villages’, s.p.b.) is attractive theoretically but has no meaning on the ground when a tenant can walk from one village to another in a few steps. In other words such a layout plan was never afforded sufficient space. The cost of the land is/was always a principal factor in determining a development’s viability. The same criticism can be levelled at the residential tower blocks in that pioneer architects of modernist ‘brutalism’ actually envisaged each tower block surrounded by considerable areas of grass, shrubberies, ornamental trees etc., these being the first things to be sacrificed to keep within a predetermined budget. Within each ‘village’ terraced houses were laid-out to imitate the terraces of the 1880s housing either side of Hessle Road in the belief that this would have heritage appeal for tenants re-located from this slum clearance area. A noble idea but too simplistic. Nostalgia set-in and the notion that ‘back on Division Road you could leave your front door open and nothing would ever get pinched’ was more selective memory than truism. But what could not be denied was that back then most were physically near their place of work.
I’m sure some people liked, and still like, living on Orchard Park, it’s not houses that act in a delinquent way, it’s the occupants.
(Just Bransholme to consider and the 1980s before closing this topic).

20th century Housing History for the Humberside Region 37.

The photo above, Wikipedia credit ukhousing/images/8/8b/IMAG0239, shows Mildane, one of Orchard Park Estate’s 10 tower block housing units built in the 1960s. Until their staged demolition since 2002 these tower blocks formed a bold feature in the landscape visible across much of Humberside, this emphasising one of the potential advantages of tower block living – panoramic views from all windows – on the Homes in the Sun tv. programmes the salesperson’s often used punchline for the more expensive properties is ‘What about that view?, usually a parched scrubland or unfinished building site! On a very clear day I can imagine that from the top of Milldane with binoculars Lincoln and York cathedrals could well have been visible.
Milldane was the last of Orchard Park’s tower blocks to be demolished, August 2013. It had been 22 storeys high and comprised 54 flats. Some tenants who had been in their flat since it was nearly new, and who had determined to stay despite the deteriorating environment around them, were sad to leave and still felt part of the ultra modern housing provision that these flats had once been.
Orchard Park Estate, a classic model of Corbusier inspired modernist housing provision, was begun in 1963 on farmland to the north of North Hull Estate (s.p.b.s) and west of Barmston Drain (s.p.b.s). The estate was named after a local farm that was demolished, this, in turn, having been called Cold Harbour Farm (a recurring name in the East Riding the reason for which I know not). The lay-out plan for the estate was for there to be four ‘villages’, each with the word ‘park’ in their name and each with their local primary school. Two secondary schools were built on the northern edge of the estate, these taking students from the age of 14 as Hull Education Authority then used the ‘Leicestershire system’ of primary, junior highs and senior (secondary) schools.
(to be continued)