It’s rather ironic that I’m writing this last-minute post against a background of such disturbing national news which is the topic of a lot of debate and discussion. But how, indeed, does my photo relate to ‘birth’ as a topic?
Well, this built-in house name plaque is typical of property of that era, which remains common in many towns and cities in England. It could be argued that the date is a bit like the ‘birth’ date of a house. It might also be said that such properties would have been the place of birth for many – in the days when midwives went from house to house on a push-bike, in answer to messages left for them on notes pinned to the back doors of their own houses!
But here, the date is significant. Houses for working-class people were at last being built to comply with certain legally enforced conditions. In particular, each house now had to have its own toilet, and also a sink in the kitchen with water on tap! This resulted from the passing of the Public Health act (1875) and also the Artisans’ and Labourers’ Dwellings Improvement Act (1875) making that year very significant in what we might call the birth of housing reform. Of course, many more improvements such as bathrooms and hot water systems were still many years away. (And that telephone wire!)
If you feel inclined to study it, the socio-economic history of Britain is a fascinating subject, and certainly one to provoke deep thinking. Oh, and probably make us all feel not so badly-off, after all.