Exhibition celebrating 100 years of Council housing comes to Central Library

The 1919 Addison Act sparked the first major wave of social housing in the UK. 100 years on, a new exhibition celebrates the home building that housed generations of Manchester people.

The exhibition will launch at 2pm on Thursday 19 December in the exhibition area on the Ground Floor of Central Library, with support from the Council’s Archives+ team. 

The exhibition looks back at the history of social housing in the city and across the region since the 1919 Act, slum clearances that removed squalid Victorian dwellings, as well as the pioneering building in Manchester that represents some of the first social housing in the country - such as Victoria Square in Ancoats, which dates back to the 1890s. 

The Addison Act - or Homes for Heroes - responded to the thousands of men who returned from fighting during the First World War to find a lack of decent homes for them and their families. The ambition of the original Act was to build 500,000 new social homes across the country within three years. 

The exhibition also takes a closer look at housing built in Manchester following the acts, with particular focus on the first homes built in Wythenshawe, the Blackley Estate in North Manchester, and Burnage in South Manchester.  

Manchester has around 65,000 socially rented homes - around a third of all housing in the city - and one of the highest areas in the UK for this type of housing. 

Finally the exhibition looks at key housing issues in the city today, including a current lack of new social housing and how the city is responding to social issues, such as the rise in homelessness. 

Cllr Suzanne Richards, Manchester City Council’s executive member for housing and regeneration, said: “This exhibition is a timely reminder of how new social housing brought a feeling of powerful hope following the First World War and how the homes we live in are central to our happiness and well-being. 
 
"My Grandfather worked for Manchester Corporation and then for Manchester Works, building council housing across the city. I am proud of his and the many other workers' legacy of council house building in this city, which this exhibition celebrates.

“Everyone in this city deserves a safe, secure and decent home to live in. The Council has made a commitment to this and we have set an ambitious target to support the building of 6,400 new affordable homes up to 2025 - with a significant number being made available for social housing.”
 
Cllr Luthfur Rahman, Manchester City Council’s executive member for skills, culture and leisure, said: “Our Central Library is far more than what people expect of a traditional library, which is why more than 1.8m people have visited in the last year alone. 

“We have hosted a range of incredibly insightful exhibitions on the ground floor space that aim to spark conversation and debate. This display is no different and I’d urge Manchester people to come along to find out more about the fascinating history of housing in the city.”

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