Municipal Dreams: The Rise and Fall of Council Housing


A narrative history of council housing. In every city and town across Britain, there are swathes of housing provided by the state – from the ‘homes for heroes’ built after the First World War to the tower blocks of the sixties, in styles ranging from arts and crafts to brutalist. As so much of this housing is privatised and some demolished, historian John Boughton recovers the story of the hopes of the men and women who dreamed of good homes for all and the travails such ambition suffered. ‘Municipal Dreams’ presents an alternative history of the United Kingdom. This history begins in the slum clearances of the late nineteenth century and the aspirations of those who would build anew.

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ISBN: 9781784787400 Category:


A narrative history of council housing-from slums to the Grenfell Tower

Urgent, timely and compelling, Municipal Dreams brilliantly brings the national story of housing to life.

In this landmark reappraisal of council housing, historian John Boughton presents an alternative history of Britain. Rooted in the ambition to end slum living, and the ideals of those who would build a new society, Municipal Dreams looks at how the state’s duty to house its people decently became central to our politics. The book makes it clear why that legacy and its promise should be defended.

Traversing the nation in this comprehensive social, political and architectural history of council housing, Boughton offers a tour of some of the best and most remarkable of our housing estates-some happily ordinary, some judged notorious. He asks us to understand their complex story and to rethink our prejudices.

His accounts include extraordinary planners and architects who wished to elevate working men and women through design; the competing ideologies that have promoted state housing and condemned it; the economic factors that have always constrained our housing ideals; the crisis wrought by Right to Buy; and the evolving controversies around regeneration. Boughton shows how losing the dream of good housing has weakened our community and hurt its most vulnerable-as was seen most catastrophically in the fire at Grenfell Tower.

Additional information

Weight 0.369 kg
Dimensions 19.8 × 12.7 × 2.5 cm










363.5969420941 (edition:23)


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