Urban History

Research Article

Tenements to bungalows: class and the growth of home ownership before ‘World War II’

Annette O'Carrolla1*

a1 Planning and Housing, Edinburgh College of Art/Heriot-Watt, Edinburgh


Which social groups were moving into owner occupation in Britain before the Second World War is a matter of controversy, with opposing claims that this involved mainly white-collar or skilled manual workers. Although reliable figures showing the growth of home ownership in this period are rare, data are available for Edinburgh which indicate that tenure development in the city probably resembled that of England and Wales rather than the rest of Scotland. The relationship between income and the cost of home ownership is examined and this suggests that the main social group to move into owner occupation were probably white-collar workers. However, an analysis of occupational information from housing across a range of values in the city shows that this movement also affected manual workers and that there was a strong association between the proportions in each social class and the average rateable value of areas of housing.


* I would like to thank Alan Murie for his help with the research on which this paper was based. Its revision has benefited from comments by Liam O'Carroll and two anonymous referees.