THE WESTERN MAIL
& SOUTH WALES NEWS, May 10th, 1933
War on Unemployment
SWANSEA HOUSING LEAD
CONTRAST TO DRAB STREETS
Amount of Slum Clearance to be Done
are two ways of tackling the alum problem.
The first is to go on building without waiting for the slums to be
cleared away; the second is to attack the slums and to demolish the old
has chosen the first method. On a
steep hill overlooking the bay, where the air is fresh and healthy, stand the
houses of Townhill, each house facing the south and bathed in sunlight.
Built since the war on Sir Raymond Unwin’s plans, they bear witness to
the energy with which the Swansea authorities have faced the housing problem.
The spaces between the houses, the well-kept gardens, and the green
patches provide light, air, and colour, while the varied nature and the
different hues of the buildings are in striking contrast to the drab rows of
streets which one can see beneath the hill.
the war the Swansea Corporation has built 3,100 new houses, of which between
2,300 and 2,400 are in Townhill, and about 12,000 people have their homes on the
height. The cost, however, has been
exceedingly great, and it is estimated that about £3,000,000 has been
contributed to better housing by the Swansea Corporation.
A MODEL SCHOOL
of the most striking schools I have ever seen stands on the hill, and those who
revel in the schools of Fascist Italy after a short superficial visit or those
who tell of the wonders of the Soviet schools should pay a visit to this Baptist
Well Junior Boys’ School, which shows that Wales can build good schools
without proclaiming them as miracle, to the world.
Boldly facing the sweep of the sea, constructed in semi-circular form, it
is so situated as to give light and air to each classroom and to provide a
living map of Swansea stretched below. It
adds ammunition to the argument that some of schools recently built in Wales are
amongst the best in the world.
of the bad housing conditions. The
bad areas are due to the age of Swansea. Whereas
history may give the borough of Swansea dignity and prestige, it also places
upon the town an inheritance of old dilapidated houses.
Over one-third of the pre-war working class houses are 50 to 100 years
old and some were built over a century ago.
long have you lived in this honest?” I asked a women in GreenHill.
She replied, “All my life, and my mother lived here all her life, and
my grandmother, too. Our family has
been here a hundred years.”
old houses suffer from decrepitude, disrepair, and dampness.
If we visit some of the dwellings in the strand we see how small, many of
the windows are, how threatening some of the cracks in the ceiling appear, how
narrow the staircases are which lead to the bedrooms above, and how, in some
bedrooms one has to bow one’s head to avoid hitting it against a damp, sloping
roof. In old Swansea one sees that
the yards are small, and that some are built up almost against the earth slope
in the back and lack back doors or back windows to provide through ventilation.
amount of slum clearance to be done is small, for there are few areas where
there is sufficient air and light.
great task in Swansea is that of reconditioning the old houses, and much of this
is necessary, for houses in Swansea show how reconditioning should and also
should not be done.
Millrow there is a good example of re-conditioning, where two-roomed houses without
a back door or back window have had a scullery and a bedroom with a big window
added. Other houses in Greenhill
which look clean and smart from the outside but which are damp and dilapidated
inside show how re-conditioning should not be carried out.
It is certainly no use to plaster the walls outside if inside the
ceilings are cracking.
THE MAIN TROUBLE
re-conditioning houses the main troubles have been shortage of bedroom
accommodation, no proper scullery, no well-ventilated food storage and lack of
inside water service. The paving of
the backyards is also important in re-conditioning.
Where there is more than one family in the house the lack of amenities,
such a. separate kitchens, is a difficulty, and it is often better to deal with
this problem at once then to wait many years before a new house is available for
the families. But whatever is done
to build new houses, or to re-condition the old, the human element remains
predominant. It is not only the
slums which make the slum-dwellers but also the slum-dwellers who make the
slums. There are dwellers who
cannot live up to a civilised standard and who will turn the best of new houses
into slums again.
the areas of bad housing, such as the Strand, Greenhill, and also the old
Training College and also in the shacks of which a few have sprung up on the
fringe of Swansea, there are many people who are below the usual level of
intelligence and cleanliness. Many
wish to cling to their old haunts.
NOT LIKE TO GO
would you like to go to a, new house?” I asked one old woman in the Strand
area. She replied: “My mother died here, and I should like to be
carried out of here, too.” Sometimes in a street where most occupiers live in
bad conditions one finds a house where a clean, hard-working man has made good,
slum problem is, therefore, as much a human problem as it is one of building or
demolishing houses, and can be dealt with by education, but educational methods
are certainly helped by the improvement of the homes.
Swansea has shown the way in Townhill.
The old houses below must be tackled.