After the great social upheaval of the 1st world war, the then Prime Minister David Lloyd George, promised a land “fit for heroes” for the returning troops.
At that time three quarters of the population rented homes from private landlords and David Lloyd George introduced, in 1919 the Housing act which would give local authorities government subsidies for the construction of council houses.
By the mid 1930’s, with official interest rates fixed at 2%, plentiful labour and cheap money saw the private sector house building boom.
New industries in the 30’s helped the expansion of housing spread from the traditional hubs, along the major arterial highways to become known as ribbon development.
The Second World War by necessity brought house building to a stop. At the end of hostilities the then health and housing minister Aneurin Bevan, a perceived champion of social justice and of the rights of working people, not only oversaw the creation of the National Health Service, but also insisted on more and higher quality council houses.
Council house building peaked in the 1950’s with the end of rationing and awakening economy some 250,000 per year were constructed by the local authorities.
There was much construction in the expansion of new towns which were satellites to London, such as Stevenage, Hemel Hempstead and Harlow.
The 1960’s saw private and council house construction hit a post-war high of around 400,000 units per year. This was also the dawning of tower block construction which in the race to modernise the perceived squalor of 19th century housing, led to some dubious quality housing, some forming almost instant ghetto’s.
However, by the end of the decade, forty years of house construction had led to the country having an equal number of owner occupiers as rentals.
In the 70’s the easing of credit conditions and the conservative government growth strategy saw housing prices rocket, virtually doubling the price of all property until the economic implosion of the Middle East oil crisis brought on by OPEC.
This caused high inflation and unemployment and a slowing of economic growth.
The 1980’s saw the Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, sensing the aspirational mood in traditional working class population, launched the right to buy council houses by existing council tenants.
This happened astride a housing value boom which saw house prices rise by around 15% in 1987 and a further 25% in 1988.
Most booms end in bust, and this happened in the early 1990’s. Unemployment soared and repossession of mortgaged houses was rife and consequentially housing prices slumped until the end of the decade.
The construction industry expands and contracts in line with the housing market and the inevitable bubbles that occur within this cycle. Construction machinery has developed along with house building itself, with John Hanlon modern construction machinery capable or replacing the labour of many men.
No building site is complete without the presence of backhoe loaders, skid steer loaders, excavators and dozers, preparing the landscape prior to building works.
With the new millennium, steady economic growth, rising population and immigration with a decline in house building combined to stoke the country’s third (and current) post war housing bubble.
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