Book — 206 pages, 2 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 24 cm
: Introduction-- Housing for the Working Class: Politics and Resources-- War, Peace and Requisitioning: Housing and Politics during the Second World War-- 'Refugees from overcrowding': The Squatting Movement Begins-- 'We were solid as a brick wall': Responses and Organisation-- The 'Luxury Squatters': Occupying Empty Mansions-- 'Such Desperate Need for Accommodation': Conditions, Costs and Priorities-- Squatters and the Housing Lists: The Politics of Allocation-- Conclusion.
(source: Nielsen Book Data)
Britain in 1946 witnessed extraordinary episodes of direct action. Tens of thousands of families walked into empty army camps and took them over as places to live. A nationwide squatters' movement was born and it was the first challenge to the 1945 Labour government to come 'from below'. The book examines how these squatters built communities and campaigned for improvements; how local and national government reacted; the spread of squatting to empty mansions and hotels, and the roles of political activists. Further, it discusses what these events reveal about the attitude of the 1945 government to popular initiatives.This book describes how those most affected by inadequate housing conditions and shortages responded to them and how their actions helped to shape policies and events. It examines and records something summed up in the recollection of one of the organisers of the London hotel squats of 1946: "...The thing I'll never forget is that if I'd ever had doubts about the problems of working people taking on and managing their own affairs, I lost them forever during this squatting thing. Because without any hassle, fuss, argument, they found what they could do, and collectively decided that it should be done, and then went off and did it.". (source: Nielsen Book Data)
This is a remarkable account of the unemployed movement in North East England in the two decades between the wars. It covers, in an exceptionally clear and readable fashion, multiple aspects of the struggle against unemployment and against the hostile and inquisitorial attitudes routinely displayed towards the unemployed and their families by the relief authorities. The National Unemployed Workers' Movement in this part of Britain fought not only unsympathetic authority but also hostile police forces - and the fascists when they tried to put in an appearance. The account is solidly researched throughout, using oral history and contemporary documentation from a variety of sources. Don Watson deals thoroughly with the NUWM in the North East and compares it to other unemployed activities and organisations in the area at that time. The book is an original and valuable addition to the social history of the area and to the study of the inter-war unemployed movement in Britain as a whole. Professor Willie Thompson, University of Sunderland. (source: Nielsen Book Data)