The origins, implementation and legacy of the Addison Housing Act 1919, with special reference to Lancashire
This thesis sets out to question many of the presently held
views of the Addison Hoasing Act and to set" the Act in its
true perspective. It is a~gued that the importance of the
Great War on state intervention in housing has been greatly
exaggerated. The need for such intervention had already been
acknowledged by all political parties by 1914 as were the
main principles upon which the 1919 Act was based.
As for why so few houses were built during the Addison Act
the great difficulties, previously overlooked, faced by
local authorities in purchasing suitable building sites are
shown. Also stressed are the delays that local authorities
found in dealing with the administrative structure set up by
the Ministry of Health to oversee the Act. Though implemented
to safeguard the Treasury who were committed to foot an
unknown bill it became one of the main reasons for the
failure of the Addison Act to produce 'homes for heroes'
quickly enough to satisfy public demand. The administrative
structure is also blamed for the way in which council housing
evolved as the instantly recognisable, sou~less estates of
the interwar years copied on a grander scale after the Second
The clash of interests generated within the local government/
central government partnership is also shown as a major factor
in the delays that dogged building under the Act. The difficulties
met by local authorities in finding adequate labour,
building materials and finance, stressed by some historians,
are re-assessed in the light of this clash.
Local authorities are defended against criticism of the way
they adapted to the role of bUilder and landlord. They are
shown as carrying out a difficult task with vigour,
professionalism and a growing sense of civic responsibility
and commitment. This commitment is reflected in the little
known role they played in the drafting of the following
Chamberlain Housing Act.
Finally the Addison Act is viewed as an example in the growth
of a local government/central government partnership in social
welfare provision that began in the mid 19th century.