The following was published by the Windsor Labour Party in the autumn of 1946. In 1945 the Labour Party nationally had won the General Election, defeating Winston Churchill, and locally the Windsor Labour Party had won a small majority on the borough council. This booklet was produced to illustrate what had been achieved in Windsor over the previous twelve months.
The text of this booklet 'Your Windsor Takes Shape' has been electronically scanned and checked but it may be that errors have crept in. Do please advise the editor if you identify anything that should be corrected. To contact us, please email Thamesweb Editor.
The Front Cover Modern Planning - A Sketch of a typical Close on a new housing estate as planned by Mr Chitty
Inside Front Cover Top
Permanent Traditional Houses
A view of some of the first 32 being built. These are now finished and occupied.
Temporary Prefabricated Bungalows
50 are now occupied and 125 more are being built.
By Way of Introduction
Clearing the Decks
Civic and Social Centre
Baths and Pleasure Grounds
PUBLISHED BY THE
WINDSOR LOCAL LABOUR
PARTY AND PRINTED BY
LUFF & SONS, LTD.,
47, ST. LEONARD'S ROAD,
The small Labour majority on the Windsor Town Council has been made to appear overwhelming, not only by the enthusiasm of the Labour members, but also by the ineffectiveness of the die-hard Conservative opposition, which has been confused and lazy, and by the fact that a few of the Conservatives - the more enlightened ones - have understood the sincerity of the Labour members and the value of their programme and have co-operated in carrying it out. The result has been that the policy which was presented to the electors last year in 'Your Windsor' has been put into operation. And now the Labour Party presents its report, so that those electors may know exactly how much has been done in less than a year.
A year ago, members of the Council went to Committees with only the vaguest idea of the business of the meetings. The Conservatives who were in charge were content to leave most of the work to the paid officials and the organisation of the Committees to providence. The Council met in private and many of the Committees too early in the day for working people to attend.
Not so now. Members of the Council know at least 24 hours in advance just what business they will have to deal with. The Council meets in public at 7 p.m., a time convenient to most citizens; and no Committee meets before 6 p.m. The Committee system, the Standing Orders and the Financial Regulations are all being re-organised in time for the new Council year.
By now nearly all the cobwebs have been swept away-but it took the Labour Party to realise that they were there!
On the 14th May, 1921, the Windsor and Eton Express reported that, "Windsor Town Council spent an evening discussing the housing situation. The Housing Commissioner stated that he was satisfied there was a 'dire necessity' for houses in Windsor, but the Council decided not to build for at least another six months."
The Chairman of the Housing Committee of the Windsor Town Council, speaking at a public meeting on the 23rd July, 1946, said, "Your Labour Town Council hopes to have more houses, built or being built, in its first year of office than all the previous Independent or Conservative Windsor Town Councils built in all the 21 years between the two world wars."
In 'Your Windsor' the Labour Party pledged itself, if elected in a majority to the Windsor Town Council, to make housing a first priority, to appoint a, qualified architect to design the houses, and to continue to consult housewives in the lay-out of the interiors.
All these things have been done, for the Labour Party WAS elected in a majority. Housing has been its chief concern, a qualified architect has been appointed to the Borough Engineer's Department, and five housewives have been co-opted to the Housing Committee.
To provide emergency accommodation as swiftly as possible the Council has followed a vigorous policy of requisitioning all empty property in the town which could be adapted for housing. All adaptations permitted by the Ministry of Health have been made as quickly as the shortages of labour and materials have allowed; and where the Ministry would not permit the adaptations in requisitioned property the Council has agreed to purchase the property and has carried out the work itself. Altogether, more than 60 properties have been either requisitioned or purchased. More than 140 families have already been accommodated in them and 46 more families will soon be re-housed in further adaptations now rapidly being made.
It should be known that some Conservatives have opposed this policy, but the Labour majority was able to over-rule them and to carry out to the full its emergency housing programme, including the adaptation of several Nissen huts.
Every effort has been made to speed up the supply of temporary prefabricated bungalows. Fifty have been erected and occupied, and work is going forward on a further 125. Perhaps they are not handsome structures, but nobody can deny that they are splendidly equipped; the kitchen, for instance, is a housewife's paradise. And the slope of the Clewer Manor site makes the appearance of the estate less unpleasing than that of most temporary bungalow sites.
But the housing problem cannot be solved by emergency and temporary accommodation. Permanent houses are needed and the Council is trying to build as many as possible of them as quickly as it can. Difficulties have been enormous and seemingly never ending. Workmen have been few in any case, and even of those available some have been attracted to areas where higher wages are paid. The weather has been atrocious and has several times brought building to a stop. Building materials and many components of houses have been and still are in very short supply.
Progress has nevertheless been made. The first 32 brick-built houses have been completed and occupied. They are of an attractive Ministry of Works design. Each kitchen has plenty of cupboards and a refrigerator; the bedrooms are fitted with wardrobes. The W.C. is separate from the bathroom, and a shed for coals, cycles and a pram is provided with each house.
Contracts have been made for 32 slightly larger and equally well-equipped, brick-built houses. They are being built as fast as the shortage of labour and materials allows. Tenders for l 8 more of these have been approved by the Council, and work will start on them as soon as the approval of the Ministry of Health has been obtained.
A design for old people's bungalows has been approved by the Council and by the Ministry. They provide two bedrooms, so that relatives or a nurse may stay with the old people if necessary. They will be built in appropriate places on all the new estates, and not segregated in one colony. Tenders for 24 of them have been invited.
Work on the design of 6, 4, 2, and possibly 1-bedroom houses is being pushed ahead in the drawing office by the qualified architect now employed full-time in the Borough Engineer's Department. As a result there will emerge a plan, not merely to provide the number of houses required, but to provide them with the number of bedrooms needed by the families of the applicants.
The housing enthusiasts on the Council have long known that the supply of bricks and bricklayers would not be able to satisfy the demand for houses when building became possible. They therefore seriously considered the alternative methods to brick construction for permanent houses. Several methods were found satisfactory, and the Chairman of the Housing Committee and the Borough Engineer made a special visit to Whitehall to consult with the Ministry of Health about them. As a result 100 British Iron and Steel Federation Houses, which had been offered to larger and apparently less enthusiastic authorities, were allocated to Windsor. This was an outstanding achievement by the Labour Council, for without this special effort these fine houses would not have come to Windsor at all, A contract was made at once and work is in progress.
But, again, there were not enough men to prepare the site, so the Council agreed to pay more for imported labour, and the camp in the Great Park was acquired as accommodation for the workmen. The bad weather has, of course, impeded progress, but once the roads and sewers are ready the houses will be erected swiftly, for the method of construction is largely dry.
The houses are of steel and have passed the searching tests of the Ministry of Works with flying colours. They are beautifully equipped, well designed, and permanent in every way.
A contract for another 100 permanent houses of pre-cast, reinforced concrete has also been approved by the Council. These are Wates houses, made by the firm which played a prominent part in the construction of the famous 'Mulberry' harbours. They are fully approved by the Ministries and are to be built on the south side of the Dedworth Manor estate. The acquisition of this site was the cause of the only really serious opposition by the Conservatives. To speed up the purchase the Labour majority insisted on permission from the Council to buy the Manor and the land at whatever price the District Valuer had been able to negotiate. Most of the Conservatives, but not all, voted against this, but the Labour majority prevailed. When the price became known it was realised what a fine bargain had been made for the town. Unfortunately, there has been a delay in acquiring alternative ground for the Dedworth Road allotments, which are on part of the land needed for the Wates houses. The Labour majority has asked for similar powers to acquire an alternative site for the allotments. There was no Conservative opposition on that occasion. They have apparently realised that the District Valuer is the local authorities' safeguard. The alternative land has also been planned to take 36 of the larger brick-built houses, and 8 of the old people's bungalows, as well as the allotments.
Mr Chitty's Dedworth - Clewer Plan
A Wates House
A B.I.S.F. House
The Council's enterprise in housing has not been at the expense of private enterprise. On the contrary, private enterprise has scarcely been able to keep pace with the licences the Council has made available by the scale of its own building. Altogether, licences for the construction of 38 houses by private builders have been granted in Windsor. At the same time a close watch has been kept on the granting of licences for repairs lest unnecessary decorations to shops and houses should waste materials and labour urgently needed for new houses.
Council houses are to let at rents which working people can afford to pay, and since tile greatest need is for these it is right that most of the present building work should be devoted to them. But many people prefer to buy their houses, even though very few of them can afford to do so outright. The Labour Council has accordingly adopted the Small Dwellings Acquisition Acts, and so provided a valuable service for those who wish to borrow money to buy their own houses. Intending purchasers may now borrow from the Council up to 90% of the value of the house they intend to buy, and repay the money over a. period of 30 years if need be. The scale of legal charges is low, and the rate of interest is only 2 3/4%. Yet there is no doubt that Conservatives will go on saying that their Party is the only one 'which studies the interests of all sections of the community' to quote the election address of a Conservative in a recent by-election.
The Housing Acts require that in the selection of tenants for Council houses a reasonable preference be given to persons who are occupying insanitary or overcrowded dwellings. The Ministry of Health has recommended that where a points scheme is operated, care should be taken to see that actual housing need is not outweighed by other less important factors.
In Windsor it was found that the old points scheme was not adequately selecting those applicants whose need was greatest, and so it was scrapped. For a time no alternative points scheme was used, and the House Letting Committee struggled hard and long with the problem of giving individual attention to mole than 1,400 applicants, and some lettings were made to extremely necessitous cases. But as no one could guarantee that they were the most needy cases it was eventually decided to introduce a modified scheme, according to which lettings are now made.
Applicants are divided into Groups according to the degree of overcrowding in their present accommodation. When calculating the number of individuals in a family, pregnant women and those who, because of age and sex, or infectious disease, should have a separate bedroom are counted as two persons each. All rooms of which the applicant has exclusive use are counted as one room each, all rooms shared with others are counted as half a room each, but if cooking has to take place in a room used for sleeping, half a room is deducted from the total number of rooms at the applicant's disposal. The number of persons in the applicant's family is then divided by the number of rooms available. If the result is four or more persons per room, the applicant is placed in Group A, if three in Group B. and so on. Applicants in Group A are rehoused first Fifty points are awarded in each Group for extra overcrowding; size and sanitary conditions of the rooms, length of Windsor residence, service with H.M. Forces, priority of date of first application, medical reasons, and any other factors which are considered important by the Committee when the applicant is interviewed and these points are used to give priority over others in the same Group. Overall priority is given, however, for extremely urgent medical reasons.
Careful attention has been given to the question of rents for the new houses, and a scheme of rebates has been approved to ensure that no one shall be deprived of a house simply because he cannot afford to pay the rather high rent, which will normally have to be charged, without depriving his family of food and clothing. The scheme applies to the old Council houses as well as to the new.
As promised in 'Your Windsor', a Housing Manager has been appointed. Already there is evidence that Council house tenants are being treated more sympathetically, and that more interest is being taken in their welfare. Approval has been given to a scheme for providing fences to the fronts and backs of the existing Council houses, a gardens competition with money prizes has been instituted, and other steps are being taken to beautify our hitherto neglected Council house estates.
"The Labour Party would obtain the services of a skilled town-planner to make provision at Dedworth, where the hulk of the new Council house building must be, for shops, cinemas, clinics, baths, meeting-places, schools, playing-fields, libraries and restaurants."
This policy, quoted from 'Your Windsor', has been carried out. Mr. Anthony M. Chitty, M.A., F.R.I.B.A., A.M.T.P.I., was asked to prepare a development Plan for Dedworth and Clewer. The plan has been completed and has received the unanimous approval of the Council. It forms part of the Housing and Planning Exhibition at the Guildhall. Although a Master Plan, it is flexible, and IS capable of adaptation as development goes on and circumstances alter. But this can he said of it at once, that if Dedworth and Clewer develop on these lines, they will be transformed from an almost forgotten fringe of the town into a proud community provided with all the amenities of civilised and convenient living.
The plan makes a complete break from "the monotony of straight roads and strict geometrical curves" for housing development, and substitutes the principle of the 'Close.' This provides for houses on three sides of an open square with the central space kept up by the Council and the tenants, the saving in road costs being used to provide additional amenities. Proposals are made for the preservation of trees, access to the river, industrial development, allotments, open spaces, shops, public buildings and schools.
The Housing pans for the south side of the Dedworth Manor estate are already following this Development Plan; industry is, being directed to the Dedworth Road site; and steps are being taken to throw open to the public the lovely sweep of the river as it skirts our town to the north.
This view has been rotated from the original for clarity.
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