The Encyclopaedia of Plymouth History
Most of the housing in a City as old as Plymouth simply grew piecemeal as more and more people either were able to afford a house of their own or moved in to the area from outside. Many of the properties in old Plymouth originally had substantial gardens but as growth was limited to within the Town Walls, slowly these gardens were used to infill with more properties, which, of course, added to the wealth and stature of those who owned the land.
Towards the end of the 18th century the Town Walls were seen as unnecessary and were demolished. This allowed expansion to the north and east and the stone from the walls was recycled in to the new houses. It was possible for Plymouth to expand westwards but only as far as the small town of East Stonehouse and the boundary of the parish of Stoke Damerel, both of which were privately owned by the Mount Edgcumbe and Saint Aubyn families.
Plymouth Dock was totally non-existent before the Dockyard was constructed but soon filled with houses within "The Lines", a system of defences that surrounded the Dockyard.
The foundation stone of the first house in Morice Town, excluding the passage house, was laid by Mr Thomas Husband Junior in 1796. He was a Magistrate and lived at Barn Park House, Stoke.
The Eighth Report of the Medical Officer of the Privy Council, Doctor Hunter, on the Sanitary Condition of the Three Towns was published in the Western Daily Mercury in 1866. It gives a fascinating insight to the overcrowded occupation of houses in the Three Towns and its contents is summarised here:
In 1890 the Housing of the Working Classes Act compelled local authorities to examine their existing housing and carry out redevelopments. Plymouth opened its first housing estate of the working classes in 1896, with Devonport following soon afterwards.
Sometime around 1894 Sir John Jackson, who was engaged in constructing the Royal Dockyard Extension at Keyham, erected some houses on land at Montpelier, in the parish of Pennycross, for his workers. They were little better than mud huts so when he erected some better properties at Camel's Head, the navvies moved in to them, leaving the Montpelier Huts, as they were known, to the homeless people of the day. Devonport Corporation was forced to condemn them in 1899 and the occupiers evicted. Read more about the Montpelier Huts..........
Under the title of 'The Big Building Scheme' land that once formed part of Keyham Barton was to be turned into the Keyham Barton Estate from 1897 onwards.
The Mount Gould estate was advertised for auction on Thursday July 12th 1900 at 3pm. It was for 194 houses, shops and an hotel.
The Plymouth Mutual Co-operative and Industrial Society had already built a couple of cottages in different places but in 1902 they embarked on the ambitious project of building an estate of houses for the working classes at Laira. 
During the Great War several temporary army camps were erected around the outskirts of Plymouth. Once the War had ended most were demolished but the Ernesettle Hutments and the Royal Naval Camp, both at Saint Budeaux, were used as temporary accommodation for ex-servicemen with large families.
On Friday June 13th 1919 HRH the Prince of Wales made an official visit to Plymouth, during which he planted a 7 feet tall oak tree to commemorate the start of a scheme to provide housing for the working class at North Prospect.
Sir Felix Pole visited the Great Western (Plymouth) Housing Society Ltd estate at Peverell on Friday November 30th 1928. 84 houses designed by Mr T Olwyn Lloyd had been built on the Beechfield Estate as a result of an Act in 1924. The project had been sanctioned by the Council in July .
In the middle of 1928 work started on erecting Council houses at North Prospect and Swilly. Within ten weeks the first were ready to have the slate roofs installed. In September 1928 it was reported that 267 were in the course of erection. They were constructed of brick and consisted of three bedrooms but they had no parlours. When the estate was completed it would consist of 1,650 properties, along with shops, a church and a school. The plans were drawn by the Borough Surveyor's Department and the work was being supervised by Mr H Coomes, clerk of works. The Government were contributing £7 10s per annum per house with the balance provided out of the local rates. 
It was reported in September 1928 that the Council had 2,700 tenants and their weekly rents added up to between £80,000 and £90,000 per year. The rent arrears at the time amounted to only £300. In addition a house purchasing scheme had been introduced in Plymouth in 1925, whereby the Corporation loaned 90% of the value of the property. This self-supporting scheme, which incurred no charge upon either income tax or local rates, was very successful and at that time the Council had loaned £492,000. One of the results of this scheme was the erection of 162 houses at Saint Budeaux for the benefit of workers in Devonport Royal Dockyard. There was only one outstanding account, in the sum of £3. 
Messrs Hill & Lang built the Trelawney Estate at Peverell in 1936.
The Woodlands Estate at Saint Budeaux was built by Messrs Thomas H Mitchell Ltd in 1936.
Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Kent opened the new Corporation flats in High Street/Waterloo Street, East Stonehouse, on Wednesday May 3rd 1939. They comprised 48 flats, of which eight were one-bedroom, three were two-bedroom, 21 were three-bedroom, 10 were four-bedroom, four had five bedrooms and two had seven bedrooms. The scheme had cost £31,978 including £5,880 paid to purchase the site. The Duchess also visited some new single-person's dwellings nearby before going on to Greenbank Hospital to lay the foundation stone of a new extension.
In May 1943, even before the Second World War had ended, new housing estates were being planned at Efford; Eggbuckland; Ernesettle; Ham; Honicknowle and Woodlands; Marsh Mills; Southway; West Park; and Whitleigh. In November 1945 a Labour local council was elected to take "The Plan for Plymouth" forward.
At Eggbuckland, the 232 acre Lower Leigham Farm was purchased by Plymouth City Council on November 12th 1945 for £16,250 plus fees, the total cost being £18,188. In the October it was leased to Mr W Hillson, of Westover, Ivybridge, for four years.
The following year, 193½ acres of the Derriford Estate was purchased for £32,500 plus fees. It was to be used for a new hospital rather than housing although that nearly got scuppered when the War Department announced in September 1947 that they intended to expand the Seaton Anti-aircraft Gun Site, which, the Council said: 'would make Derriford Estate unsuitable as a hospital centre.'
Mr Aneurin Bevan the Minister of Health, officially opened the first of the Council's "Cornish Unit" houses on Tuesday June 17th 1947. Theses dwellings were constructed out of pre-cast concrete made from the china clay heaps that littered Cornwall. 'The City had had a heavier knocking about than any City in Great Britain and had suffered even more, from loss of homes, than London itself', sais Mr Bevan. Number 1 Kedlestone Avenue, was the first of 96 houses of that style being erected in Plymouth by Messrs John Williams & Company Ltd. It had been furnished by Messrs E Dingle & Company Ltd. As a souvenir of the occasion, Mr John Keay, on behalf of the contractors, presented the Minister with a 12-sided Georgian silver plate inscribed with a design of the "Cornish Unit" house. Accompanying the Lord Mayor of Plymouth, Mr W Harry Taylor, were the chairman of the Housing Committee, Mr W A Miller; the Town Clerk, Mr Colin Campbell; the City Architect, Mr E G Catchpole; and the City Engineer, Mr J Paton Watson. After tea the official party toured the Honicknowle, King's Tamerton and Ham estates, and dropped in on Mrs E Demelweek, at number 57 Ham Drive, to view a property constructed by the British Iron and Steel Federation. 
Plymouth's 10,000th new post-war municipal dwelling was formally opened by the Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Housing and Local Government, Sir Thomas Sheepshanks, KCB, KBE, on Tuesday June 22nd 1954. It was in Kirkwall Road at Crownhill, part of the Whitleigh estate, and was one of the many Cornish Unit style properties erected by Messrs Selleck, Nicholls and Company Ltd, contractors to the Council for the Cornish Unit dwellings.
In April 1958 Messrs F J Stanbury Ltd were offering 3-bedroom semi-detached houses for £1,910 on the private Woodford "Garden City" Estate at Plympton, which was still outside the City boundary at that time.
On October 15th 1958 HRH the Duchess of Kent opened the Miles Mitchell Village, an estate in Eggbuckland primarily for old people.
|© Brian Moseley, Plymouth, UK|
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