The Mortgage Strikes

Andrew McCulloch draws attention to an important omission from a recent television reconstruction on 1940s London

West Wickham, Kent, should be as famous for events in 1938-40 as Jarrow is for its 1936 march. A unique strike took place there which has benefited millions of owner-occupiers. Yet, paradoxically, the makers of a recent Channel 4 programme, ‘The 1940s House’, chose a house in West Wickham as somewhere that was typical and ordinary.

The temporary inhabitants of The 1940s House (broadcast in January 2001) were a couple, Michael and Lyn Hymers, their daughter Kirstie, and Kirstie’s two sons, Ben and Tom. The family’s project was to live for nine weeks in circumstances resembling as closely as possible those of a moderately well-off family in the Second World War. The setting is a real house, 17 Braemar Gardens, West Wickham, that was built in 1932 and has been painstakingly restored to how it might have been in 1939. In fact, at the beginning of the war, this house was empty – for significant reasons.

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