127. A short history of council housing
This week’s guest is John Boughton, teacher, historian and author of an excellent housing-flavoured blog, which last year appeared as a full-blown book. Municipal Dreams: The Rise and Fall of Council Housing is an incredibly readable look at the history, politics and architecture of public housing in Britain, from those first estates in the late 19th century to the Grenfell Tower fire of 2017.
It is genuinely one of the best books I have ever read on such a wonkish subject, and the paperback edition has just been published. So this seemed like an excellent moment to talk to John about what got him interested in this subject, what he learned from writing the book, and whether he is optimistic about the future of housing in this country.
Somewhere around the New Labour years, we take a short break in that conversation to talk to Paul Swinney, head of policy at the Centre for Cities, about a different aspect of the housing crisis: what the divergence in house prices between the London area and the rest of the country has done to the wealth divide in this accursed nation.