The Making of the Modern British Home,1919-1939

The Making of the Modern British Home,1919 - 1939

the-making-of-the-modern-british-homeProfessor Peter Scott examines the rise of the suburban semi in interwar Britain and its profound economic and social impacts on the large number of working and middle-class families who migrated from inner-urban areas to new suburban housing estates. A number of articles have been published and a book is in progress.

Interwar Britain witnessed the formation of a new type of house- the low-priced compact suburban semi- which revolutionised both the housing market and the lives of the hundreds of thousands of families who moved from inner-urban areas to the new suburbs. Suburban semi's dominated the interwar building boom, which expanded the aggregate housing stock of England and Wales by around 50 per cent.

Council housing led this process (initially attracting large numbers of middle-class as well as working-class families), but by the 1930s owner-occupied houses began to dominate new building, attracting both the lower-middle classes and, for the first time, substantial numbers of working-class families. A broad range of households- ranging from slum clearance tenants to middle-class families who could no longer afford servants- were drawn to the compact, light, modern, hygienic, and semi-rural semi and the suburban lifestyle it offered, with profound socio-economic impacts.

Specific themes include:

  • The property development process and the interwar suburban housing estate
  • The mass-marketing of owner-occupation, particularly to the urban working-classes who had hitherto been excluded from this market
  • Working-class suburbanisation and the emergence of an aspirational and domestically-orientated 'new working class' in interwar Britain
  • The impact of the new suburban house on working-class household expenditure, budgeting, and fertility
  • 'Distinction', social frictions, and the social filtering of households on the new suburban estates

Published outputs

2012 `Advertising, promotion, and the rise of a national building society movement in interwar Britain', Business History, forthcoming (Peter Scott and Lucy Newton)

2008 `Marketing mass home ownership and the creation of the modern working class consumer in interwar Britain,' Business History, 50, 1, 4-25 (Peter Scott)

2007 `Did owner-occupation lead to smaller families for interwar working-class households?'Economic History Review, 61, 1, 99-124 (Peter Scott)