Homes for Heroes 100: Council Estate Memories is a collection of specially commissioned articles written by people who have lived in council housing. In addition to two contributions set in Bristol (Hartcliffe and Lawrence Weston), the locations described include Basingstoke, Cambridge, Cardiff, Fife, Gateshead, Saltcoats, Slough, Stevenage, a rural village in Cornwall, the outskirts of Birmingham and several parts of London. The authors’ experiences range from the brutal to the idyllic, demonstrating the best and the worst of council housing provision. A number of the essays refer to the revelation that came with the transfer to secondary school, when children were first made aware that to be a council tenant might be considered a sign of failure. The authors have encountered class snobbery, racism, crime and violence as well as supportive neighbours and previously unimagined comforts like hot running water, and the sense of security that comes with knowing you hold the key to your own front door.
Several of the contributors spoke at the Festival of the Future City 2019 where most of the copies of the books were given away to audience members. However, if you are based in Bristol you may be able to find a copy to either borrow or keep at your local library, while stocks last. There were also some free copies in M Shed at the time of writing.
We were delighted that the Observer – our national media partner in the festival – ran extracts from four of the pieces.
The routes in Homes for Heroes 100: Book of Walks provide an opportunity to look at the development of three inter-war suburban council estates in Bristol (Hillfields, Sea Mills and Knowle West) and to explore an inner-city residential area that is over 200 years old (St Pauls). The walks were devised with guidance from the Architecture Centre, Knowle West Media Centre, Sea Mills 100 and Local Learning (which is running the Hillfields Homes for Heroes project), all of whom have received copies of the book to distribute to participants in their activities.
Again, most of the books were given away to people attending the Festival of the Future City at Watershed, but it is worth visiting your local Bristol library and M Shed to see if copies are still available there. A box-full was also donated to the Tourist Information Centre on Harbourside.
The artwork on the cover of the book of walks is by Miles Tewson, an illustration student at UWE. Both books were designed by local company Qube Design Associates Ltd.