Homes fit for Heroes

Links and resources for 1919 Act houses in the 1921 census

This is a selective list of resources relating to 1919 Addison Act houses in Scotland. Some of the houses built under this Act were completed and occupied at the time of the 1921 census (19 June 1921).

Image of four-in-a-block houses in Elm Street at Logie in Dundee.
Four-in-a-block houses Elm Street, Logie, Dundee (1919-20). [CC BY-NC-ND]
List of contents

Homes fit for Heroes: State-subsidised council housing

The development of post First World War state-funded housing is discussed in the following books:

Histories of the development of social housing in the early twentieth century can also be found online:

For key official memoranda and minutes for Scotland on Housing and Urban Development after 1918, researchers should not overlook chapter three of Ian Levitt’s edited volume for the Scottish History Society which the NLS has published online (pp 244-328).

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Garden city movement and town planning

A brief introduction to Garden Cities by Historic England:

The Internet Archive has scanned copies of some contemporary Garden City and other housing publications, which can be downloaded in various formats including pdfs.

The Garden City Association is better known to us today as the Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA):

Raymond Unwin was a major figure in early town planning and housing design.

Reliable biographies of architects and their practices or firms can be found on the following sites:

W. H. Lever’s Port Sunlight model village:

Glasgow Garden Suburb Tenants Ltd. – Westerton Garden Suburb, Garscube. The story of Scotland’s first garden suburb by East Dunbartonshire Council:

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Official reports and papers

Brief overview of town planning and council housing legislation by theme from the UK Parliament website:

Many, but not all, British Parliamentary Papers can be obtained via ProQuest UK Parliamentary Papers. Public libraries often have a subscription. You can obtain remote access to the National Library of Scotland eResources if you have a residential address in Scotland.  It is helpful to have a note of the Command paper number as well as the likely year of publication.

Selected reports and returns 1919-26

Board of Health local authority housing returns

  • Scottish Board of Health: Summary of returns made to the Board in terms of Section 23 the 1919 Act for the half-yearly period ending 30 Sep 1920. (1921) Edinburgh: HMSO [Cmd 1178].
  • Scottish Board of Health: Summary of returns made to the Board in terms of Section 23 the 1919 Act for the half-yearly period ending 31 Mar 1921. (1921) Edinburgh: HMSO [Cmd 1377].
  • Scottish Board of Health: Summary of returns made to the Board in terms of Section 23 the 1919 Act for the half-yearly period ending 30 Sep 1921. (1921) Edinburgh: HMSO [Cmd 1584].

LGBS and Board of Health reports

  • Final annual report of the Local Government Board Scotland (1920) Edinburgh: HMSO [Cmd. 824].
  • First annual report of the Scottish Board of Health 1919 (1920) London: HMSO [Cmd. 825].
  • Appendix to the First annual report of the Scottish Board of Health 1919 (1920) London: HMSO [Cmd 992].
  • Second annual report of the Scottish Board of Health 1920 (1921) Edinburgh: HMSO [Cmd. 1319].
  • Third annual report of the Scottish Board of Health 1921 (1922) Edinburgh: HMSO [Cmd. 1697].
  • Eight annual report of the Scottish Board of Health 1926 (1927) Edinburgh: HMSO [Cmd 2881].


  • Committee of Inquiry into the High Cost of Building Working Class Dwellings in Scotland (1921) Edinburgh: HMSO [Cmd 1411].

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The Ballantyne Royal Commission

The Ballantyne commission was appointed on 30 October 1912 to inquire into the Housing of the Industrial Population of Scotland, rural and urban (with special reference in rural districts to the Housing of Miners and Agricultural Labourers), and to report what legislative or administrative action was, in their opinion, desirable to remedy existing defects.

The commissioners were: Sir Henry Ballantyne (chairman), Simon J Fraser (Lord Lovat), George F Barbour, Rev. James Barr (who replaced W F Anderson in Feb 1915), Charles Carlow, Joseph F Duncan, David Gilmour, John M Henderson, William M Mackenzie MD (Local Government Board for Scotland medical member), Jonathan Middleton, Sir William Younger and Mrs George Kerr (i.e. Helen Kerr).

The evidence was taken from 11 March 1913 to 21 October 1915 and the commissioners asked over 40,000 questions over 93 days. Evidence was mainly taken in Edinburgh, but they also sat in other places in Scotland and made some visits to see for themselves.

The commission’s work was suspended in February 1916 because of the war. Work resumed in January 1917 and majority and minority reports produced; the latter signed by Lovat, Barbour, Carlow and Mrs Kerr, and subject to reservations by Barbour and Carlow. The commission reported on 11 September 1917.

The Ballantyne Minutes of Evidence were published in 1921, but not given a Command paper number. There are four printed volumes (three of evidence – over 2,000 pages; the fourth is the index and appendices). Those who gave evidence were allowed to submit short papers as part of their evidence. The evidence provides a lot of detail of the pre-First World War situation in various parts of Scotland and reflects the viewpoints and prejudices of particular stakeholders.

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The Women’s House-Planning Committee

The Scottish Women’s House-Planning Committee report, chaired by Helen Kerr, was published by HMSO in Edinburgh in October 1918 and distributed to local authorities and others, but it was not given a Command paper number and is consequently difficult to track down.

  • Local Government Board for Scotland. Women’s House-Planning Committee. Report. (1918). Edinburgh: HMSO [British Library shelfmark Wf1/7931]

There was a separate Women’s Housing Sub-Committee dealing with England and Wales for the Ministry of Reconstruction, chaired by Lady Gertrude Emmott, which published an interim report in May 1918 and a full report in 1919. These can be obtained via ProQuest UK Parliamentary Papers.

  • Ministry of Reconstruction. Advisory Council. Women’s Housing Sub-Committee. First interim report. (1918) [Cd 9166].
  • Ministry of Reconstruction. Advisory Council. Women’s Housing Sub-Committee. Final report. (1919) [Cd 9232].

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Housing plans: Wilson’s report and the 1919 architectural competition

The Ballantyne commission appointed Local Government Board (LGB) for Scotland architect John Wilson as a special investigator and his report on the design of various types of housing was issued as Command paper.

  • Royal Commission on Housing in Scotland (1917) Special report with relative specifications and plans, prepared by Mr John Wilson FRIBA, architectural inspector of the Local Government Board for Scotland, on the design, construction, and materials of various types of small dwelling-houses in Scotland. Edinburgh: HMSO [Cd. 8760] Available from

An architectural competition was held by the LGB for Scotland in association with the Institute of Scottish Architects. The results were issued 22 February 1919 and the plans exhibited in the Royal Scottish Museum, Edinburgh, from 26 Feb 1919 to 4 March 1919. A selection of prize-winning plans were published and sent to every local authority in Scotland; it was also put on sale.

The competition’s top premium of £125 went to the practice of Eveline Dew Blacker and Harry Heathman of Bristol.

The Tudor Walters committee was appointed in July 1917 and a report was published in November 1918. Scotland was added to the remit belatedly in April 1918. Much of the report was written by architect Raymond Unwin and it includes guidance on housing estate layouts along Garden City lines and on the economical layout of different housing types. The report states two-storey cottages are the type to be adopted and expresses doubts about the wisdom of providing four-in-a-block flats in Scotland.

  • Report of the committee appointed by the president of the Local Government Board and the Secretary for Scotland to consider questions of building construction in connection with the provision of dwellings for the working classes in England and Wales, and Scotland, and report upon methods of securing economy and despatch in the provision of such dwellings. John Tudor Walters, chairman (1918) London: HMSO. [Cd. 9191].
1944: Planning our new homes

The first chapter of this aspirational landmark report is on the legacy of the past.

  • Planning Our New Homes. (1944) Report by the Scottish Housing Advisory Committee on the design, planning and furnishing of new houses. Edinburgh: HMSO.
Census reports

Census reports provide an overview of the statistical information gathered by the enumerators. After 1920 most census reports were government publications published by HMSO but not deemed Parliamentary Papers and thus have no command paper number.

  • HistPop: Online Historical Population Reports (OHPR) collection. Has a set of reports based on census data freely available to all. This site has been around since 2007 and can be a little frustrating to use (try off-peak times).
  • Census of Scotland, 1921. (1921) Preliminary report on the thirteenth census of Scotland. [Cmd. 1473] Available via ProQuest UK Parliamentary Papers. (Population only.)

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Sources for towns and cities

Local libraries and archive departments are great sources of expertise; they have collections you won’t find anywhere else.

The NLS has an unrivalled collection of digitised maps:

Increasingly newspapers are available in online digital formats and your local library may be able to provide access free of charge. The amount of coverage of social issues such as housing, and the tone of it, varied according to the editorial policy and political persuasion of the newspaper. Note that newspapers published as many as five or six editions and that only one edition is likely to have been digitised. The main stories and the advertisements are likely to be the same in all editions.

John Boughton’s Municipal Dreams website includes some examples from Scotland.


J.K. Young (1991) From ‘laissez-faire’ to ‘Homes fit for Heroes’: Housing in Dundee 1868-1919. University of St Andrews PhD thesis [ ]

Both Dundee City Archives and the University of Dundee archive service hold copies of reports and plans by Dundee’s burgh engineer, city architect and leading town planner James Thomson (1852-1927).

There is a chapter by Bob Harris about James Thomson‘s vision for the future of Dundee and one by Myra Baillie about social reformer Mary Lily Walker (Dundee Social Union & Grey Lodge) in:

The Dundee City Archives blog:

The Logie 100 project was set up to celebrate the centenary of the pioneering housing scheme. The project has an end date of December 2022, but it is likely the website will remain.

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A small selection of the many books which consider housing issues in Glasgow:

A useful overview well illustrated with images, statistics and references: Lauren Paice (2008) ‘Overspill Policy and the Glasgow Slum Clearance Project in the Twentieth Century: From One Nightmare to Another?’ Reinvention Vol.1 (1)

Book Review: Seán Damer, Scheming: A Social History of Glasgow Council Housing, 1919–1956

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Except where otherwise stated, The Past and Other Places by JKW (Kay Williams) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License

Last updated 18 Dec 2022.