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These Photos Show How Social Housing Once Made London Affordable To Ordinary People

See the "most successful social housing" over 80 years of history.

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An art project has gathered historic photos and mementos of an east London housing estate to show what life was like in the UK’s "most successful privately built and owned social housing".

The exhibition features photos of the Warner Estate in Walthamstow, dating as far back as 1902 through to the 1980s, portraying families renting and living close to each other in affordable housing. A typical two-bedroom flat in the same area today sells for around £450,000, two and a half times the national average.

The photos are in stark contrast to today’s London, where many of the current generations of these families have been forced out of the city because of rising property prices and a lack of affordable housing.

Artists Lucy Harrison and Katherine Green pulled the collection together from sources as far afield as America and Australia, along with oral stories from those who have lived in the area for 20 years or more.

Harrison said in a statement: “At a time when east London is becoming rapidly gentrified and a lack of affordable housing is a huge issue for many, the project looks at one example of how a private company developed large amounts of good-quality housing stock and its legacy for the area today.

“These outstanding photographs show an era where working-class families could live comfortably in stable accommodation, enjoying their homes and community life. The images provide a stark contrast with the conditions in the rented sector for families like this today.”

Take a look at a selection of some of the best photos from the exhibition.

The exhibition WE: The Ex-Warner Estate in Waltham Forest is on show at London’s Vestry House Museum, from 29 October 2016 to 19 February 2017.

Matt Tucker is the UK Picture Editor for BuzzFeed and is based in London.

Contact Matthew Tucker at

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