Spalding’s desperate housing shortage in 1915

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There are housing shortages today, but the situation was even more desperate 100 years ago in Spalding.

An inquiry into the need for more council homes heard that some existing cottages were unfit to put pigs in.

The great demand for better housing “for the working class of Spalding” was discussed an the inquiry considering an application by the Urban Council for permission to borrow £1,515 to purchase a field in St Thomas’s Road from Ald J H Bunting. The Urban Council wanted to provide “working-class dwellings” with allotments.

At that time the urban area was 10,284 acres and the population in 1911 was around 10,400 – ten years earlier it had been 9,385. The number of houses in the town in 1901 was 2,000 and in 1911 it had increased to 2,200.

The inquiry’s inspector, Mr Harvey, said the town “was a very ancient town, with some privileges on account of its age, and also some drawbacks. Amongst the drawbacks was the fact that much of the cottage property of the town was very dilapidated.”

The inquiry heard that in some places whole rows were unfit for habitation, and the report said: “A great many were unfit to put pigs in. This class of property was not in the centre of the town, but on the outskirts where the working classes lived.”

Two years earlier, the council had built 30 working-class houses, which were all let before being built.

The provisional agreement for the purchase of five or six acres in St Thomas’s Road had been made before war broke out. The application was to borrow the money to buy the land, not to build the houses, “as the rate of interest and the cost of building material was too high at present”.