The history is pretty straightforward if depressing in that before the war large amounts of housing throughout the country were unfit for human habitation and had been built during the industrial revolution to the standards of the time which for working people were often what the employer could get away with.

The 1930s was seen as a time to start clearing the slums and large housing blocks such as Quarry Hill in Leeds and Gerard Gardens and others were built in Liverpool, it’s worth seeing the film Homes for Workers to see what was being done at that time.

After the war the Modernists had their chance to rebuild the housing of Britain and in addition to many houses with gardens large numbers of flats were built often on estates, with varying degrees of success, let’s not forget the new towns either.

Unfortunately the situation in the inner cities was less good.  London had much new housing built but this fell short of that required leaving many people trapped in poor quality privately rented accommodation with the scandal of Rachmanism that marked the early 1960s.

With families being broken up by social services if they became homeless, the film Cathy Come Home by Ken Loach was a cry for help for those families so troubled and led, ten years on to a change in the law such that council homes were no longer allocated to those who could show good references and a record of employment, but rather to those most in need.

While a worthy aim the long term effect of this policy when combined with the inevitable effects of right to buy has been to create sink estates where in earlier decades lived a range of people of all backgrounds.

Which brings us back to Ferrier.  From the podcast linked below we learn that former inmates of the asylums were housed in small numbers on Ferrier and there was of course the compounding effect of right to buy where those who could afford to bought and moved out, letting the property, often to recipients of benefits. Some who could not afford to but bought anyway, defaulted and had their homes repossessed thus losing their security of tenure and reverting to the bottom of the waiting list,  and lastly those left behind who could not afford to buy even with the discount.

UPDATE: This gives a good account of public housing in the last century:-

http://www.historyandpolicy.org/papers/policy-paper-71.html

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