login | register | sitemap
Text size: A A A
Other sites You are here: Home >> Teaching Activities
To what extent did the vision turn into reality? – Housing in the 1950s and 60s
move to previous resource Add to My Favourites move to next resource

Demolition in Greater London in the 1960s

Large Image

Worksheet: 1950s and 60s recording sheet

Teachers' Notes: Housing in the 1950s and 60s

Teachers' Notes: A brief history of social housing

Power Point: Housing in the 1950s and 60s

Whiteboard activity (Smart): Housing in the 1950s and 60s

Teaching idea

To what extent did the vision turn into reality?

After World War Two there was a vital need for new housing. This was partly due to the loss of housing during the blitz but also because many people lived in sub standard housing which lacked modern amenities such as bathrooms. There was also a general feeling that the old must go to be replaced by the new. In the 1940s the housing shortages were dealt with by temporary means such as prefabs. The 1950s and 60s saw wide scale demolition of old properties which were replaced, in many cases, by large scale housing estates and tall multi story blocks of flats. The councils, and the architects they hired to design these schemes, had a vision of the future but how did it turn out in practice? What were their real motives?

Ask students to use the Images by Theme 1950s/60s Buildings and search the image database to select images of flats and council housing. They can select and record  information, using the recording sheet to organise their findings. 

A starter activity is available as either a whiteboard presentation or power point to introduce the topic, help students plan their work and to suggest criteria for selecting information and making a judgement on the question. The teachers notes and links provide background facts and further information about the history of social housing and design of buildings.

Learning Aims and Outcomes

  • Students will use primary evidence to help in their understanding of how housing changed after WW2
  • Students will be able to demonstrate skills in assessing and using primary evidence, such as the creation of criteria
  • Relates to: OCR History A Unit F961 British History Period Studies - Option B: Modern 1783–1994 - Post-war Britain 1951–94
  • Relates to: EDEXCEL Unit 3 Britain in the Age of the Welfare State, 1945-64
  • Relates to: AQA - Unit 2: A Sixties Social Revolution? British Society, 1959–1975, Unit 3: The State and People: Britain 1918–1964


    Prior Learning

    Some knowledge of the history of social (council) housing in the 19th and 20th centuries will be useful. A brief overview and booklist is included in the teachers' notes

    Extended Learning and Useful Links

    • look for housing estates in their own locality and find out about their history and how they are being used today.
    • use your local archives or local studies library to find a date for when they were built (they may have more information) then look at local newspapers from the time for comments from architects, housing officers or tenants.
    • Try to find people who lived or live there who may be willing to give their views.

    Use the following articles/websites for further information on housing, design and architects

  • Independent online

  • BBC

  • Tower Block

  • Design Museum

  • Council House

  • Park Hill


    Copyright: English Heritage.NMR
    Reference: N/A
    Location: N/A Date Taken: 2010
    Period: 1960s (1960 - 1969)
    Keywords: housing, architecture, council, estate, flat, design, 1950s (1950 - 1959)
    Images By Theme:

    click here to return to teaching activities

    Terms and Conditions | Privacy Policy | Print Page © Historic England 2014 - All rights reserved.