Norfolk

Norwich celebrates 100 years of council homes

Mile Cross Estate, Norwich Image copyright Norwich City Council
Image caption Mile Cross was first major council estate to be built in Norwich and dates back to the 1920s

A city is celebrating the centenary of its first council homes being built - just weeks after its newest housing scheme won a major design award.

The first council house in Norwich appeared in October 1920 in Angel Road, with the city's first major estate, Mile Cross, built that same decade.

Earlier this month, the city council's Goldsmith Road development was named the country's best new building.

To mark the anniversary, 100 trees are being planted across the city.

Image copyright Norwich City Council
Image caption The Goldsmith Street development won the Riba Stirling Prize at the start of the month

Norwich City Council is also asking people to share their stories of living in a council home on its website.

The parents of June Gidney, who grew up in Catton Grove close to the city's first council house in Angel Road, moved to their three-bedroom property in the late 1930s from a cramped house-share in an "important step" for the family.

"They couldn't believe the space they had - a whole living room and kitchen to themselves," she said.

"I fondly remember the strong sense of community."

Image copyright Norwich City Council
Image caption Some of Norwich's first purpose-built flats were constructed in Union Street in 1935
Image copyright Norwich City Council
Image caption Mousehold Avenue pictured in 1987 - seven years after council tenants were given the option to purchase their homes under Right to Buy under Margaret Thatcher's government

Council homes sprung up across the country after the 1919 Housing Act promised government subsidies to local authorities.

There had been a huge demand for housing following World War One.

A surge in house building was triggered in 1930 when councils were ordered to knock down all remaining slums.

By the end of the decade, about 45% of Norwich's 7,600 council-built homes re-housed people from slum clearances.

Image copyright Geograph/Paul Shreeve
Image caption Flats in Tuckswood overlook the green at the centre of the 1950s council estate
Image copyright Nowich City Council
Image caption Normandie Tower was one of eight council tower blocks to be built in the 1960s

By the 1970s, Norwich had the highest proportion of council housing of any city in the country - with just under a third of the city's current 14,500 council-owned homes built before World War Two.

Gail Harris, the Labour council's social housing cabinet member, said these homes were an "asset to the city".

"We should never take for granted our legacy of building council homes, which have produced communities and estates that make up the fabric of Norwich," she said.

"It's important to remember the story behind how it all began and has subsequently developed."

Image copyright Geograph/Hugh Venables
Image caption The Heartsease estate was built in the 1950s on an RAF World War One airfield

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