Pinehurst was Swindon’s first council housing estate. Building started under the 1919 Housing and Planning Act introduced by Liberal MP and Health Minister Christopher Addison who would become Swindon’s first Labour MP in 1929 after his break with the Liberal Party. Unlike all previous legislation, the Act imposed a duty on local authorities to “consider the needs of their area with respect to the provision of houses for the working classes” and to draw up plans “for the exercise of their power”. In other words they had to draw up plans to build housing to address those needs. In fact some councils were already preparing before the Act became law. It had been anticipated by a Local Government Board Circular 86/1917 in July 1917, Housing after the War, which promised “substantial financial assistance from public funds” to local councils for building “working-class housing”. The Act was in large part the result of the fears of the government about the danger of a post-war radicalisation. It was declared to be “insurance against Bolshevism and revolution”. Whilst Swindon was by no means a radical town it was nonetheless affected by the social tensions which war always brings, during and after the slaughter. It’s worth looking at the situation in the town prior to the October 22nd 1918 decision of the council to build some “working class housing”, to get a sense of the growing tensions and the lives of its population as the world war was reaching its end.
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