Exhibition of 100 years of council housing draws the crowds

Posted on Wednesday 24th July 2019

boundary exhibition

Sat 20 July saw more than 300 people visit an exhibition dedicated to the social history of the UK’s oldest council estate; the Tower Hamlets Homes managed, Boundary estate in Bethnal Green, East London.

Held at St Hilda’s East Community Centre, next door to the Boundary Estate, photographs and stories told the story of the homes that were completed in the 1890s, the residents and the rich social history of the area. 

A hundred years ago in July 1919, the Addison Act became law. Local Authorities were given responsibility for building good quality working class housing; ‘homes fit for heroes who have won the war’ as promised by then Prime Minister, David Lloyd George at the end of WW1.  Built on the site of a notorious slum (The Old Nichol) the photographs and stories of the exhibition provided a fascinating insight into the origins and development of social housing.

Visitors to the exhibition were also able to join the fun at a fabulous street party held by St Hilda’s East, at Rochelle Street.  Attendees enjoyed live music, food and drink and craft making to celebrate 130 years since St Hilda’s was founded.  Supported by Tower Hamlets Council Events fund, this street party incorporated the community centre’s cultural diversity to offer people a variety of cultural activities. The St Hilda’s Older People’s Choir also performed, setting off the day of what was a highly enjoyable and inclusive event for all ages. The Mayor of Tower Hamlets, John Biggs, attended the exhibition and a cake cutting ceremony for St Hilda’s.

Chief Executive of Tower Hamlets Homes, Susmita Sen, said:

“The Boundary Estate has provided safe and affordable homes for 130 years and we’re proud to be looking after the homes and carrying on that tradition.  Social housing has played, and continues to play, a vital role in society and this exhibition showed the special place of the estate in our social history.”

Director of St Hilda’s East Community Centre, Rupert Williams, said:

“We are delighted to have hosted Tower Hamlets Homes’ Exhibition in our community centre. It is highly appropriate, as St Hilda’s is cited in the heart of the Boundary Estate, the first full municipal Estate in the country and part of the rich history of social housing. It is doubly welcome as we are celebrating our own 130th anniversary this year!”            

Mayor John Biggs said:

“For a century the Boundary Estate has provided local people with quality social housing in the heart of the East End. I was delighted to join residents to celebrate the centenary of this historic estate and to recognise the important contribution social housing has made to our society.

“One hundred years on and Tower Hamlets is still on the frontline of the housing crisis with thousands of new homes needed. That is why I am proud the council is committed to continuing the legacy of the Boundary Estate by delivering 2,000 new council homes across the borough in the coming years.”

Posted on Wednesday 24th July 2019