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Housing : Birmingham Council Municipal Housing

Morturn

Super Moderator
Staff member
Bob

There were a number of council Direct Labour Organisations (DLO) within Birmingham Council. The Elan Valley Scheme was built by the DLO. I understand that Hams Hall Power Station may have been too.

The social housing DLO was disbanded in the late 60’s early 70’s, but I don’t know what the rational was behind it as social housing was still being built. I suspect it may have been cost driven. Labour costs are a significant part of any building project and the council employees were engaged on decent terms and conditions. Saying that, the council rates of pay were lower than the private sector, but work on the council was regular. As we know, the building industry has always been a roller-coaster of boom and bust.

Social housing, to my knowledge was still being built up until 1984, then by private contractors. I know a number of DLO employees ended up working for the council’s maintenance DLO.

The council’s maintenance DLO was eventually privatized in 2000 or externalised as the council prefers to call it. The councils published reasoning was that it removed the risk to the public purse and that the DLO had suddenly started to return a loss on its last three years of trading. It was retuning a healthy profit in the previous ten years.
 

Brookfields Lad

master brummie
In the book 'OUR BIRMINGHAM' printed April 1943 is a study of Birmingham's way forward regarding housing. The study was partly carried out by 'Scholars of Gower Street Senior Boys' School, Aston'. Published by Cadbury Bros, Bournville.
Housing was designated into three groups:

1. Back to back houses. This type of house didn't have a hall or a scullery - only a living kitchen. Badly ventilated.
It was estimated that there were 38,000 of this type of house in use.

2. Tunnel back houses. This type of house was considered to be better than the back to backs because they had a scullery, a living room and a parlour but no bathroom or indoor w.c. There were over 100,000 of this type of house in use at the time of the study.

3. The houses built by Birmingham , starting in 1920 when the large municipal estates were being developed consisted of:

A coal bunker, a yard, a scullery, a hall, a living room, a parlour, three bedrooms, indoor bathroom and w.c. and a garden.
In twenty three years Birmingham built over 104,00 houses of this type. The negative side of living on a municipal estate at this time was that they were far from places of work.

At the time of the study, there were over two hundred people to the acre in the inner city wards.
 
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Bob Davis

Bob Davis
In the book 'OUR BIRMINGHAM' printed April 1943 is a study of Birmingham's way forward regarding housing. The study was partly carried out by 'Scholars of Gower Street Senior Boys' School, Aston'. Published by Cadbury Bros, Bournville.
Housing was designated into three groups:

1. Back to back houses. This type of house didn't have a hall or a scullery - only a living kitchen. Badly ventilated.
It was estimated that there were 38,000 of this type of house in use.

2. Tunnel back houses. This type of house was considered to be better than the back to backs because they had a scullery, a living room and a parlour but no bathroom or indoor w.c. There were over 100,000 of this type of house in use at the time of the study.

3. The houses built by Birmingham , starting in 1920 when the large municipal estates were being developed consisted of:

A coal bunker, a yard, a scullery, a hall, a living room, a parlour, three bedrooms, indoor bathroom and w.c. and a garden.
In twenty three years Birmingham built over 104,00 houses of this type. The negative side of living on a municipal estate at this time was that they were far from places of work.

At the time of the study, there were over two hundred people to the acre in the inner city wards.
Gosh!! my grandmother at Harborne lived in Grays Road which matches the description of a tunnel back house. Bob, thanks very much for all that info.

Bob
 

Morturn

Super Moderator
Staff member
View attachment 148195
This was another style of house, prefabricated? maybe not, that was built in 1950's in Garretts Green, picture from Google 2020 so still being used.

This is indeed a BISF house (British steel framed house). System built but these did actually work and did not suffer the defects of other system built houses. Council had quite a few of these. I think around 30,000 were built across the UK
 

Dave89

master brummie
This is indeed a BISF house (British steel framed house). System built but these did actually work and did not suffer the defects of other system built houses. Council had quite a few of these. I think around 30,000 were built across the UK

Hi,

I was told that the cladding on these houses contained asbestos, - is that true?

Talking of concrete houses, what about the No Fines houses at Chelmsley Wood.
Roughcast concrete and no reinforcing bars!

Kind regards
Dave
 

Morturn

Super Moderator
Staff member
Some do or at least did, however the BISF houses could be clad with a combination of steel, wood and even brick.

There were Wimpey no-fines houses built in Birmingham too. I recall there were quite a few in Newtown. In my opinion, it was a method of construction that was of its time. There to meet the needs of a shortage of materials and skilled labour.

They seemed to be structurally sound but did not have very good heat insulation. They were a pain to work on if you had to drill through the walls, you had to get a diamond drilling machine. I thought aesthetically, they did look not so good with the drab grey of concrete render. The design in my opinion was also poor, the small windows made them look like a place I would not like to live.
 
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mw0njm.

Brummie dude
Hi,

I was told that the cladding on these houses contained asbestos, - is that true?

Talking of concrete houses, what about the No Fines houses at Chelmsley Wood.
Roughcast concrete and no reinforcing bars!

Kind regards
Dave
were i live in brum was full of the stuff. bath panel, airing cupboard. the council said 1599834446545.pngif so get in touch with us. immediately, and we will send some one out to you.... "they did" a team that looked like they were going to the moon.
removed the damaged bath panel.
 

Morturn

Super Moderator
Staff member
Pete, that was the thing with asbestos, it had so many uses in the building trade too. Bath panels, guttering and downpipes, soffits and facias, soil and vent pipes, gas meter cupboard linings, gas fire linings to name a few.
 

mikejee

Super Moderator
Staff member
I can remember it being used in "bandage form to insulate scientific apparatus in the 1960s, and if you were a fan of American cigarettes in the 50s t
it could have been in your cigarette filter!
 

Astoness

TRUE BRUMMIE MODERATOR
Staff member
my disabled sister who lives in a bungalow is having the bath ripped out and made into a wet room soon but before that happens the council are sending someone out to test for asbestos...

lyn
 

mw0njm.

Brummie dude
Pete, that was the thing with asbestos, it had so many uses in the building trade too. Bath panels, guttering and downpipes, soffits and facias, soil and vent pipes, gas meter cupboard linings, gas fire linings to name a few.
true mort
terrible stuff. god bless those who found out too late.
 

Eric Gibson

master brummie
On the houses subject anyone remember what we called the lavatory houses? :)

On the Ridgeway, Perry Common they built a few blocks with white glazed bricks on the front.
 
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