What is it about?

It is now a century since the beginning of the great ‘social experiment’ that was council housing, a policy often derided by political commentators and historians. Yet, even after the Thatcherite ‘right to buy’ privatisation of the 1980s, today housing remains in crisis. We examine a series of alternative visions of housing – communitarian self-help, municipal improvement, and conservative philanthropy - promoted within the Scottish town of Stirling. In so doing we show why for most Scots needing a family home in the early to mid-twentieth century, council housing was the only option.

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Why is it important?

Today a generation is being priced out of the housing market, a ‘market’ that mirrors in many respects that of a hundred years ago. Understanding what housing solutions did and did not work then can help us better understand the problems of today, especially those left renting from private landlords often at exorbitant rents.


Writing this article with a long-standing friend and colleague was a great pleasure. Being able to marry historical research with someone who offers a more sociological perspective from his work on contemporary housing policy gives depth and relevance to our work.

Dr James Joseph Smyth
University of Stirling

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Lost Alternatives to Council Housing? An Examination of Stirling's Alternative Housing Initiatives, c. 1906–1939, Journal of Scottish Historical Studies, November 2017, Edinburgh University Press,
DOI: 10.3366/jshs.2017.0216.
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