The scandalous ‘slum’ house conditions of 1970s Blackpool

Sitting in her bedroom, surrounded by boxes full of pots and pans, towels and bed linen, is Mrs Elizabeth Dewhurst, in November 1974. She had been ready for moving since June.
Sitting in her bedroom, surrounded by boxes full of pots and pans, towels and bed linen, is Mrs Elizabeth Dewhurst, in November 1974. She had been ready for moving since June.
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‘In Dickensian conditions.”

That’s how some people in Blackpool were described as living back in the 70s.

Mrs Sandra Carter, a civil servant, with Kristian, among her packed boxes of belongings

Mrs Sandra Carter, a civil servant, with Kristian, among her packed boxes of belongings

Ibbison Street was due to be knocked down.

And many of those living there, in 1974, had their belongings packed ready to move out – but were left waiting for at least 12 months.

They were all ready to be rehoused, but with no new homes on the horizon and a ban on grants to make their current homes hospitable, they ended up living in conditions The Gazette described as making “parts of Salford look like ideal home land”.

In the meantime, the residents were making do, fed up and dispirited with the conditions they had to raise their families in.

Trying to improve the look of the Ibbison Street houses

Trying to improve the look of the Ibbison Street houses

The Gazette featured their plight in November 1974, after a local councillor had said during a council debate on housing that “there are no slum houses – there are slum people.” The bitter reply from people living in the Foxhall Central Ward was “come and see how we live”.

Among those pictured was Mrs Maureen O’Hare, who lived with her three children – two-year-old Lisa, nine-year-old Keiron and 11-year-old Kathie.

She had no bathroom and one cold tap in the draughty, wet-walled kitchen.

Little Lisa had to bath by the fire, in a plastic tub, the other children had to go the public baths and Mr and Mrs O’Hare had to bath at a relative’s house.

Ibbison Street 'slums' in November 1974

Ibbison Street 'slums' in November 1974

Mrs Elizabeth Dewhurst was trying to brighten up her living room with a coat of paint for Christmas.

She had had her bags packed since June, waiting for a move that had never come.

“I have lost heart living here,” said Mrs Dewhurst, who had laid papers on the landing to catch the water coming in through the roof.

Mrs Sanda Carter, a 23-year-old civil servant was having to sleep in one room with the rest of her family of four – husband and two children, because of the damp through the house. Even then, she had to sweep fallen plaster and plastic off the bedroom at night.

Other neighbours had pneumonia and bronchitis.