Paul Smith

We are delighted to announce that Homes for Heroes 100, our citywide project celebrating 100 years of the city’s council housing estates, has been shortlisted for a national award.

Homes for Heroes 100 is a programme of activity working with communities in Sea Mills, Hillfields and Knowle West to explore the history of these areas and the people that have lived and worked there over the last century.

The National Lottery supported project included the story of council housing in Bristol told in comic-book style, exhibitions, art installations, walking tours around different estates, a day of conversations with authors, artists and policy experts, a birthday party for the Addison Oak tree in Sea Mills and the planting of an oak tree at a new council housing site. The project has been nominated for a UK Housing Award, which recognises and rewards the very best in the UK housing sector. Winners will be announced on 7 May.

“We are delighted to be shortlisted for this award. 2019 provided Bristol with the great opportunity to celebrate the history and importance of council housing and to make the case for a new programme of council housing. The city grasped this fully. Extensive work with residents in estates joined the publication of new books and a comic, which tens of thousands of people have read, and a major series of events on the future of housing at our Festival of the Future City. We face a housing crisis and a mass programme of new council housing is needed. Homes for Heroes 100 made that case and we’ll continue the campaign into the 2020s.”

Andrew Kelly, Director, Bristol Cultural Development Partnership

Homes for Heroes was strongly supported by Bristol City Council. Cllr Paul Smith, Cabinet Member for Housing commented:

“It is important to understand and to celebrate the past to help inspire our future work. Bringing this story to thousands of Bristolians who may not have known the history of their communities has been fantastically rewarding, as has bringing together people from different generations to share their stories. Now we are working on building the homes for the next 100 years.”

The 1919 Housing and Town Planning Act, known as The Addison Act after the then Minister of Health and Housing Dr Christopher Addison, introduced the start of the first significant era of council house building in the UK. It came in the wake of a speech delivered by Prime Minister David Lloyd George regarding British troops returning from The Great War in which he called for ‘a country fit for heroes to live in’. Bristol is home to some of the earliest estates in the country. The first sod at Sea Mills was cut by Addison himself in a ceremony that took place on 4 June 1919 when the oak tree was planted in Sea Mills Square to mark the occasion. In 1937 John Betjeman referred to Sea Mills as ‘that magic estate’ and in 1981 it became one of the first council estates in the country to be designated a conservation area.

“We are delighted that Homes for Heroes has been nominated for this award. It has helped to bring the community in Sea Mills together and give us a new appreciation for where we live.”

Mary Milton, Sea Mills 100

 As well as looking to the past, the Homes For Heroes 100  tried to help change the image of council housing and returning to the utopian ideas and hopes that the first council houses represented in the lives of their tenants. The project was awarded over £80,000 by The National Lottery Heritage Fund thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, making it the largest celebration of the centenary of social housing happening anywhere in the UK.

“ Homes for Heroes not only marked the centenary of the Addison Act but also the centenary of the communities it helped to create. Thanks to National Lottery players, those communities in Bristol  took the lead in putting their own history on record for the first time, challenging perceptions and coming together to celebrate their future”  Stuart McLeod, Director London & South at The National Lottery Heritage Fund

(photo: Evan Dawson)

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