Monthly Archives: May 2022

Miscellaneous – ‘Housing’ 2.

Although not immediately obvious from the picture above the bottom two shelves of the bookcase were inundated in 2013 (s.p.b.), this including all my notes on walking the east coast of England, in stages, in the 1990s – cruel irony, leaving one with a ‘sinking’ feeling.
Recently my friend from Barton and his wife were holidaying at Heacham on the coast of the Wash in west Norfolk and, while touring, went around some villages between Swaffham and Downham Market to see the cottage in which I was brought-up; an end-terrace mock-gothic 1870s estate cottage in Boughton. They were very impressed with its distinctive style but didn’t see inside, and certainly didn’t see inside in the 1950s and ’60s, and later in the early part of this century when my elderly sister struggled terribly to endure the serious deterioration of the property (see Doris Clarke – a Life in section two of this website).
Houses and public buildings are built today with a stated expected lifespan but rarely is this period of time used to accumulate capital for their successors. Yes, on balance, I do approve of the modern perspective of restore rather than demolish but this is in the context of housing as a private capital asset and sometimes residents/tenants have to endure deteriorating living conditions as they have not the capital to improve it, this only becoming available after they have ‘left’. The state of living accommodation depends on constant attention to its welfare and maintenance and in a free-market economy the degree of attention to this varies.
Next Friday evening I am guiding a walk around Pearson Park to look at the large houses built on perimeter plots and make some relevant comments. It starts at 6-30pm in front of number 58, Pearson Park, Hull. This, by coincidence, is the Friends of Pearson Park’s contribution to the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.

Miscellaneous – ‘Housing’.

Just a post-script to my recent 40+ blogs on housing history. The picture above shows just the end of my previous house, the garden path, the car and the storage shed on the day after the tidal surge flood of 5th December, 2013. As occupants were ordered-out by the police before the full force of the waters was felt I did not see the inside of the house under three feet of flood water, or the storage shed as four feet of water surged through, or the car as basically a water tank, I just saw the after effects when allowed to return at midnight. I was insured but the workmanship of the restoration later proved defective with the result that in 2019 the house eventually sold for a fraction of its initial value, which wasn’t that much anyway. So much for investment in property!
‘Housing’, as well as its usual meaning, is a sort of game whereby the observer mentally note salient features of the properties he or she walks by and comes to some conclusions as to their possible origins e.g. council, speculative or subsidy houses, possible dates usually to a decade or as a result of specific legislation and garden provision. Salient features are (a) roofs- pitch, materials, chimney stack positions, ridge tiles, eaves etc., (b) walls – materials, brick bonds, age of bricks used (machine or hand-made, dimensions), mortar used, quoins, lintels and sills, rising damp techniques used etc., fenestration (windows and doors), dimensions and styles and decorative or optional features. It is the house equivalent of ‘churching’.
Incidentally, almost certainly people are suspicious of anyone taking a lingering interest in their house. They may be ok if told that you are a house historian – they may not! They may come round if you ask them what they know about the history of their house but be cautious, it’s usually a half-truth at best.

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)