Early Council Housing in Exeter: ‘decent houses for the working class’

Municipal Dreams

Labour increased its majority on the council in May this year but before 1945 Exeter was a conservative and mostly a Conservative city. That, nevertheless, it was in the forefront of early town planning efforts before the First World War and built some 2200 council homes between the wars is proof that many in all parties believed in the duty of the state and local government to ensure decent housing for the working class.

Back in 1907, though, it was a Liberal administration which erected the city’s first council housing – on Isca Road, a by-product of slum clearance on nearby Alphington Road. The 49 plain two-storey, two-bed, red-brick terraced houses with gardens to the rear cost £149 each to build. A petition from tenants saw weekly rents reduced from 5s to 4s 9d; just enough, it was calculated, to repay construction costs. (1)

Isca Road Isca Road

Thompson ground and first floor plans Isca Road Floor plans of the Isca Road houses from W Thompson, Housing Up-to-Date (1907)

Though the…

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