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Louth Museum

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Council Housing in Louth

by Ruth Gatenby

Elizabeth Court Council Housing in Louth

Elizabeth Court Council Housing in Louth

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Recently, John Barker presented a copy of his memoirs to the museum. The recollections of this 90-year-old Louth resident, who was the Director of Housing and Estates for ELDC, are fascinating. Here are some excerpts.

Council Housing in Louth was initiated shortly after the First World War. Lacey Gardens Housing Estate was laid out in the very early 1920s, and Louth Borough Council then built further estates, notably Tennyson Road on Newmarket, and Jubilee and Keddington Crescents on Brackenborough Road. These were mainly for re-housing tenants from the many rows of small cottages in the town centre that were the subject of Slum Clearance Orders.

Immediately after the Second World War the Council took over a number of disused Nissen huts on a site on High Holme Road and used them as temporary housing. The families in them urgently needed permanent homes, so work started laying roads on a large area of land on the east side of the town off Eastfield Road, and in 1945 fifty prefabricated bungalows were speedily erected on Park Avenue. They were well-designed but small, with all the kitchens and bathroom fittings coming in complete kit-form units. I think they were designed for a 30-year life span but with regular maintenance and some improvement, they provided popular homes for nearly sixty years before being replaced with brick bungalows in the 2000s.

Post-war development continued apace with the building of the St Bernards Avenue estate with traditionally-constructed brick houses, mostly semi-detached or in small terraces, and a few bungalows. In those days no one thought that so many people would have cars, and there was no provision for car parking. The main road through the estate eventually connected Eastfield Road with Wood Lane, Stewton Lane and Newmarket, with a side road joining Monks Dyke Road. One problem was the level crossing on the main Grimsby to Kings Cross railway with gates which often needed to be closed to road traffic. This problem of course was overcome when the main railway line was closed by Beeching in 1970.

In the early 1960s the Council decided to provide sheltered housing for the elderly, with self-contained units for each tenant and a common room for social activities, with a flat for a resident Warden. The first to be built was Elizabeth Court in Maiden Row, on the site of about 40 tiny cottages. The area had had rather a bad reputation, although most of the cottages had been occupied by good hard-working families. The name of the road was changed to Church Street.

Similarly Maxey Court in James Street was built in the late 1960s, and later enlarged. It too was built on slum clearance land where some houses owned by the Council had been located. These houses, I believe, had been built to house soldiers after the Napoleonic Wars.

Elizabeth Court served the town well for over forty years but became outdated and in 2005 was pulled down and the new much larger high dependency unit (illustrated here) was built. The 32 flats each have a living room and bedroom, and there are common rooms, catering facilities for the tenants, together with the support staff of a manger and wardens. Quite frail people can now be accommodated.

Work began in 1964 on the North Holme Road Council Housing estate. In the first phase, each house had its own back and front gardens, with a road in front of it. The second phase which went right up to North Holme Road was designed on a system which aimed to separate cars from housing, with walkways to the houses and green communal areas in front and service roads to the rear. The remainder of the site to the east was then laid out in a traditional style, and was much more acceptable to the tenants.

Welbeck Way, off Mill Lane on High Holme Road, was constructed on a site which had been a nursery garden. Another estate called Beech Grove was developed off Keddington Road. In the late 1960s and early 1970s the Council began to upgrade its older houses by installing new bathrooms and kitchens, electrical rewiring and in some cases re-roofing.

The successor authority of Louth Borough Council, namely East Lindsey District Council (ELDC) was formed in 1974. ELDC built a limited amount of new social housing but could not obtain the funding needed to provide all the new affordable houses required and to upgrade its existing stock of about 5,000 properties. The Council began working with the De Montford Housing Society at Leicester, and a subsidiary company was formed in Louth called The Wolds Housing Trust. Social housing in Louth is now managed by Waterloo Housing.