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. "Reveals a parallel universe, seemingly familiar but deeply strange. Municipal Dreams
maps a country where major aspects of city building were considered by both sides of the political spectrum to be far too important to be left to the rentier and the developer. Boughton's book works as a gazetdrteer of public achievement--from Arts and Crafts cottages to modernist monuments to ordinary streets, from Hammersmith to Hull--and a nuanced but polemical tale of how the municipal idea was destroyed, revealing the caricatures and pseudo-history that were used to convince us that the places built to swindle us were better than the places we built for ourselves to live in." - Owen Hatherley, author of The Ministry of Nostalgia
"Follows the epic story of British council and social housing from its Victorian origins to twentieth-century estates, the Right to Buy, and the Grenfell fire. While every page is rich with fascinating detail, Boughton also tells the grand narrative of how modern housing was created for millions, and how that dream has been cynically and carelessly undermined. This is an inspiring read and a nece