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Celebrating houses that were built by heroes, for heroes

Letters
·1-min read
<span>Photograph: Antonio Olmos/The Observer</span>
Photograph: Antonio Olmos/The Observer

Dagenham is rightly proud of its Becontree estate and is far from alone in celebrating a hundred years of such developments (Becontree centenary: residents mark century of London estate, 1 March). The 1919 Housing Act made Lloyd George’s promise of “homes fit for heroes” a reality – unlike recent government promises – by backing it with real money, enabling local authorities to build the first council houses and insisting on a higher standard of landscaping and accommodation than could have been dreamed of by working-class families at that time.

I live in one of 50 houses also built in 1921, in Bury St Edmunds, where the council adopted a revolutionary design created by the Middlesbrough firm Dorman Long & Co, consisting of a steel framework with block infill. They became known as Dorlonco houses. The simplicity of the design made it possible to erect the houses quickly, using largely unskilled labour in the early stages. This allowed the council to insist on the contractor using as many unemployed ex-servicemen and others as possible. These houses were not only fit for heroes, but were built by heroes.
David Eddershaw
Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk