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.

A mother with her baby and child in a typical London slum, December 1912. The bedroom also serves as a kitchen. Getty Images/Hulton ArchiveRose 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.

To continue reading this article you will need to purchase access to the online archive.

Buy Online Access  Buy Print & Archive Subscription

If you have already purchased access, or are a print & archive subscriber, please ensure you are logged in.

Please email if you have any problems.