London's Wartime Housing Crisis
The First World War precipitated a housing crisis in London, which affected all classes of the populace and had a profound effect on the capital, says Jerry White.
Rose Johnson, 12 years old, was found by police around two o’clock one morning in September 1917 in the war-darkened streets of Hoxton. Concerned for her welfare, the police charged her with ‘wandering’ at night. Her mother was a munitions worker on night shifts and Rose was afraid of the dark. That was made worse because the two lived alone in a back room of a ‘condemned’ house at Britannia Street, where all the windows were boarded up. Rose was remanded for enquiries. A week before, an editorial in the local newspaper pointed up one further element in the housing difficulties with which Londoners had grappled since the outbreak of the First World War.