Municipal Dreams

If a single estate can be taken to encapsulate the social, political and planning history of council housing in this country it is probably Knowle West in Bristol.  You’ll find in it all the hopes and dreams, all the good intentions and unintended consequences, that have marked the complex story of council housing over the last hundred years or so.  And you’ll find families and communities that have lived this story in all its complexity.

Broad Walk, Knowle © Phil Jaggery and made available under a Creative Commons licence Broad Walk, Knowle © Phil Jaggery and made available under a Creative Commons licence

To begin with, let’s cast our eyes a little wider.  In the interwar period, the Bedminster and Knowle Estate was the largest of Bristol’s interwar council schemes.  Building began in 1920. By 1939 the estate as a whole comprised over 6000 council homes and a population of some 28,000.

As we saw in last week’s post, this was the product of three…

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