Old photo of 4 storey brick tenement housing

St Martin's Cottages

Liverpool was the first city in Europe to provide council or social housing. The first scheme was St Martin’s Cottages, a series of tenements consisting of 146 flats and maisonettes completed in 1869. Tenants paid a typical rent of 5s-3d per week.

House building was paid for through local taxes known as rates. Between 1918 and 1939 39,000 houses and flats were built in Liverpool.

However thousands of families were not lucky enough to move into new homes. By 1933 nearly 30,000 people were still living in condemned courts and cellars. People still remember the terraced houses in the Vauxhall and Everton areas of the city. Built by private landlords they were overcrowded, badly maintained and unhygienic. Those who lived in them remember good neighbours and a special sense of community.

"There was a tremendous community spirit, a clanishness in all the little streets….this was a neighbourhood to remember"
Terry Cooke on Scotland Road, Vauxhall

High hopes

The 1950s and 1960s was the era of slum clearance. Building high rise tower blocks was one solution to the problem of providing a better standard of living for those living in densely populated urban areas. In Liverpool, communities in the city centre were forced

out to new housing estates on the outskirts of the city. This is a sharp contrast to today's marketing of City Living.

In 1956 Coronation Court was the first tower block to be built in Liverpool, seven miles from the city centre. The standard of accommodation, which included indoor bathrooms and central heating, was new to the many residents who moved there from Scotland Road.

"I will never forget listening to people talking about it. They were saying… how smart it was. Imagine living there they said. I thought to myself, I do, and I love it."
Olga Bayley, one of the first residents of Coronation Court.

Coronation Court © Liverpool Housing Action Trust