‘No More Walls. Homelessness in London after 1945’ – Florence Sutcliffe-Braithwaite (University College London) – Franco-British History Seminar – History Axis

Posted on February 17, 2022

17 February 2022 - 17 h 00 min - 18 h 30 min


Florence Sutcliffe-Braithwaite (University College London), ‘No More Walls. Homelessness in London after 1945’

 

This paper aims to sketch out changing state policy on “homelessness” and the changing ecology of homelessness in postwar London, as well as saying something about how this impacted on the experiences of Londoners who found themselves without a home in the three decades after 1945.

 

The Second World War intensified the emotional weight invested in “home” in British culture; it created mass homelessness in London (and in other cities), but it also ushered in the “people’s peace”, the final sweeping away of the Poor Law, and the beginning of a major push by Labour and Tory governments to build council and private housing. In the three decades after 1945, patterns of homelessness in London were shaped by those developments, as well as slum clearance, new commonwealth migration, racialized council-house allocation policies, full employment and the slow arrival of “affluence”. In this period, street-sleeping was reduced to very low levels in London – though the actual levels were contested – and, more slowly, homelessness and inadequate housing for families were reduced – though never eradicated. Remnants of the Poor Law remained, however, not least in the reception centres which dealt with homeless individuals and families, which were set up in old Poor Law buildings. Remnants of the pre-war way of thinking about homelessness also persisted, in the way policy was gendered, and in the way ‘vagrants’ – those without a ‘settled way of life’ – were thought about. The overview of the infrastructure for and policy about homeless people thus shows that older, moralised ways of approaching the issue persisted in the welfare state.

 

Florence Sutcliffe-Braithwaite is a historian studying Great Britain in the 20th century. She wrote, among others, a book entitled Class, politics, and the decline of deference in England, 1968-2000 (Oxford University Press, 2018). She co-organizes with Natalie Thomlinson an oral history project on women during the miners’ strike of 1984-1985.

 

Franco-British History Seminar – partnership

The  History Seminar Franco-Britannique has been organised since 2000 at the University Paris-Sorbonne, now in partnership with the Institute of historical Research, London, and with the following research centres: AGORA (Cergy Pontoise), CREA (Paris Ouest-Nanterre-La Défense), CREW (Paris 3-Sorbonne Nouvelle),  CRULH (Lorraine), LARCA (Université de Paris) and the  Maison française d’Oxford. Every year, the programme conveys the latest insights from foreign and French-based researchers in British history, medieval, modern and contemporary British history. Phd and master degree students as well as all researchers with an interest in British history are welcome.

  • Sessions on Thursdays from 5pm to 7pm.
  • At the Maison de recherché de l’université Paris-Sorbonne (28 rue Serpente, Paris 6e).
  • Room D421 (screens at the entrance confirm location)
  • The year’s programme is on the SFB website HERE
  • Talks are taped and archived on the website of the Institute of historical Research Here.

Next sessions

  • 24 February: Niall O’Flaherty (King’s College London) : ‘Malthus and the Discovery of Poverty’
  • 10 March: Andrew Mackillop (Glasgow), ‘Scots in long eighteenth-century London’
  • 17 March: Thomas C. Jones (Buckingham) : “The Foreign Jews Protection Committee: refugee protection and relief in First World War Britain”
  • 24 March: Nigel Leask (Glasgow) : “‘As Little Known as… Kamtschatka’: Reflection on the Highland Tour in the Long 18th Century’
  • 31 March: Hugh McLeod (Birmingham), autour de son livre Le déclin de la chrétienté en Occident. Autour de la crise religieuse des années 1960 (traduit par Elise Trogrlic, Labor et Fides, 2021)
  • 7 April: Barbara Crosbie (Durham) : ‘The Rising Generations: Age Relations and Cultural Change in Eighteenth-Century England’
  • 14 April: Chris Manias (Kings College London), ‘The Age of Mammals: Nature, Development and Palaeontology in the long nineteenth century’
  • 21 April: Emma Griffin (East Anglia), autour de son livre Bread Winner. An Intimate History of the Victorian Economy (Yale University Press, 2020)
  • 12 May: Laura King (Leeds), ‘The School Case of Poor Harold: Families’ multi-generational remembrance of deceased children in twentieth-century England’
 
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