Southwark’s early philanthropic housing
When looking into the history of social housing in cities it can be difficult to track the developments in a way that gives a representative timeline. Fortunately, London’s Borough of Southwark, a large area to the south of London Bridge, is an ideal area that encapsulates all the problems that were being forced upon the housing stock in cities by railway and industrial development.
Southwark was typical of the industrial areas of London, with very old housing and some slums under threat from railway developers, but retaining an industrial base – typically food production, wharfage and engineering. Although it was an ancient borough (hence the name of the area immediately south of London Bridge simply being called Borough), the authorities were a collection of parishes, just outside the jurisdiction of the City of London, with its slum and health issues not always sympathetically dealt with by parish and district authorities. The ancient borough was in the county of Surrey until 1889 when it became part of the new County of London. The various parish and district authorities came together only when the London boroughs were formed in 1899 which created the London Borough of Southwark, that included the industrialised areas of Bermondsey and Rotherhithe.
The papers below cover the housing developments in Southwark before WW1 using funding from enlightened philanthropists such as George Peabody. Housing built in Southwark in this period by the London County Council is covered in the “London County Council” link in the menu above.