McAdam, Katie (2019) Rubbish, Rubble and Rodents: Post-War Slum Clearance and the Resident Experience of Demolition in Salford. Masters thesis, University of Huddersfield.

The use of slum clearance in the post-war period by local authorities radically changed the fabric of the urban landscape in Britain forever. These programmes of wholesale demolition of entire neighbourhoods removed 1.48 million houses from the built environment, and in doing so displaced over 3.5 million people from their homes and established community networks.

This analysis begins by establishing that the societal context of post-war Britain was essential to the enactment of slum clearance programmes, with central government’s idealistic visions of modern life providing the ideological motivation to remove dated housing in poorer areas. It then goes on to demonstrate that a pervading discourse surrounding slum clearance areas sought to degrade the neighbourhoods and residents in question, both to justify and enable the progressive plans of demolition. This discourse produced a pervasive representation of the slum dweller who was in need of improvement, who was to be limited to being a recipient of charity and therefore denied agency in the discussions of their existent housing and planned new homes.

Furthermore, whilst the slum clearances of the twentieth century were undoubtedly hugely impactful, their study by historians has been left inadequate, with the topic being merely considered as a precursor to social housing development, or by discussing only data and figures of relocation from clearances, stripping away the human experience of demolition. This analysis therefore approaches slum clearance from a resident point of view, utilising contemporary sources which held resident opinion and testimony, as well as documentary film footage and street photography to provide an in-depth analysis of the conditions and issues endured by those living in earmarked slum clearance areas. The evidence shows that residents faced prolonged periods of uncertainty and lack of information about their relocation and during this time were subjected to structural deterioration, rubbish build up, increased vermin, danger from their unsafe environment and fears of crime and antisocial behaviour.

Finally, the replacement social housing that was built to rehome those displaced from demolition will be shown to have been a failure, creating further issues for residents rather than providing them with the ideal home promised to them by local authorities. Newly built housing complexes are scrutinised and show that the exclusion of residents from housing plans and design led to an abject failure of the modernist state housing experiment of postwar governments.

FINAL THESIS - MCADAM.pdf - Accepted Version
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