My research will examine how national debates about the ‘Housing question’ before the First World War were reflected at a local level and their implications for inter-war housing policy. Two case studies of Oxford and Birmingham will explore the campaigns for the provision of municipal housing and how the local authorities responded to the housing problems in their areas.
The research focus is on housing reformers, rather than housing schemes, on people rather than property. The research will explore the influence of local housing campaigners, the extent of working-class involvement in campaigns, the role of social investigation in highlighting the problem and the significance of pre-First World War housing debates for inter-war housing provision. A comparative approach is taken of two case study areas both opposed to municipal housebuilding to bring out any commonalities or differences in local civic culture and its impact on the housing problem. Both case studies have their peculiarities, the civic gospel and Liberal Unionism in Birmingham and the influence of the University in Oxford on local government.
To date, with access to archives restricted, research has been limited to online primary sources, such as the British Newspaper Archive.