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‘Scattered squalor’ and ‘downland homes’: interwar housing at Patcham, Brighton

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posted on 2023-06-08, 12:11 authored by Geoffrey Mead
The Brighton suburb of Patcham is an area which was transforming rapidly into a suburban housing district in the interwar period. An urban fringe area, where the distinction between the various housing areas is largely explained by the differential ownership and sale of the former agricultural land, and the subsequent development as suburban housing under different developers. The factors bringing about the urban expansion, particularly in relation to Brighton and its growing economy are discussed, as is the declining agricultural economy. A variety of suburban housing types emerged, ranging from army huts and architect-designed detached villas in the early post-World War One period, to large corporate housing developments during the 1930s.This period was one where largely uncontrolled building was taking place outside Brighton municipal control, a situation partly resolved by the extension of borough boundaries in the late 1920s, and the social and legislative factors pertinent to urban housing issues and suburban growth are discussed. This pattern of areal difference is readily discernible in the 21st century where the palimpsest of earlier patterns still influences the later building. The economic situation and the various architectural styles of the interwar are reviewed, as is the postwar development of the district which is described to give the post-World War Two context. Suburbs are more complex than is apparent at first consideration and this study aims to unpick the fabric of suburbia through the case study of a selected area of Patcham setting it all in the wider context of local and national issues. The patterns of building that are recorded for Patcham can be seen to operate across Britain in the same period and serve as an exemplar of wider processes.


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