Sheffield Council asking for tenants’ memories to celebrate 100 years of council housing

Sheffield is celebrating 100 years of council housing – and the city council is looking for your memories.

By Julia Armstrong
Wednesday, 22 May, 2019, 17:09
Youngsters looking over the new Park Hill flats in the 1960s

A team has been looking at the council archives to put together the exhibition and speaking to residents.

Janet Sharpe, Director of Housing and Neighbourhood Services, said: “The first part of the campaign was to try and get people involved, sending in photos and memories, which is starting to happen through social media.

Batemoor Close, Jordanthorpe on August 25, 1965. Courtesy of Picture Sheffield

“We’re also organising events with older residents to try and get their memories.”

Photos can be dropped off in neighbourhood council offices or at town hall reception where a member of staff can scan them in and take a few details. Or email councilhousing100@sheffield.gov.uk

The exhibition will be open on Tuesday, July 16 in the Reception Room at the Town Hall from 2-5pm.

Tenants and residents’ groups and local history societies have also been involved and there are plans for local libraries and other groups to be able to use the displays.

The first Sheffield council homes were built on Button Lane in the city centre. Image: Picture Sheffield

Although council houses were built in Sheffield before 1919, it marks the introduction of the Addison Act, following a speech by Prime Minister Lloyd George calling for “a country fit for heroes to live in” as troops returned from war.

The conditions that many working-class Sheffielders lived in were dire – homes were unhygienic, overcrowded and in poor repair.

During their research, the council team found that seven cottages on Button Lane were the first to be built in Sheffield in 1895. Costing £269 each to construct, they were brick built with their own WCs.

In 1903 the council completed its first slum clearance and rebuilding project by providing flats for 700 people on Campo Lane, Townhead Street and Hawley Street, the city’s oldest-surviving council housing.

A new-build council home from 2015 at Ouse Road, Darnall

Between 1904 and 1923, 900 houses were built on the Flower Estate in Wincobank, conceived as a Garden City.

Around 3,500 houses were built on the Manor between 1923 and 1932, making it one of the largest estates in Sheffield.

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Houses on the Longley Estate, built between 1927 and 1932, had bathrooms, separate toilets and gardens. Trees and open spaces made this a popular area to live, the team found.

When the 900-house Wisewood Estate was built in 1929, it was known as the Buttons Estate as many tenants belonged to the better-off working class and wore uniforms to work.

The Gleadless Valley estate in the1950s. Picture: Picture Shefield

Parson Cross was started in 1936 and its two-bedroomed houses out-numbered the three-bedroomed ones by two to one. The idea was to build smaller homes to keep rents low but still many struggled.

Around 8,000 council homes were damaged and 131 destroyed during World War Two.

Prisoners of war at Redmires Camp laid down roads and sewers in preparation for around 3,000 houses at Parson Cross built there after the war.

In the 1950s, the first high-rise blocks were promoted by the Government as the answer to urgent housing needs. That led to the building of Park Hill and Hyde Park.

As the demand for housing continued to grow, in 1961 the council announced that 94,000 people would have to be housed outside the city boundary unless something changed.

Mosborough was chosen as the most suitable area and became part of Sheffield.

The oldest surviving Sheffield council homes, at Townhead Street in the city centre, seen in 1925. Courtesy of Picture Sheffield

In the 1970s, Westfield, Halfway and Waterthorpe were also developed as townships and almost 10,000 homes were built during this decade, plus 908 sheltered accommodation units.

In the 1980s, the big changes were the Tory right to buy policy and demolitions of council homes no longer fit for purpose at Broomhall and Manor.

Although the number of houses built fell, in line with national trends, 2,128 new council homes and 31 sheltered accommodation units were built.

There are still about 40,000 council homes in Sheffield.

Sheffield 1950s council homes in Atlantic Way, Greenhill. Image: Picture Sheffield