How to research postwar house history and street history: #StoryOfOurStreet blog


17 June 2020
Even if you live in a brand new house you can still take part in the #StoryOfOurStreet local history project. Read on for top tips on researching newer streets and properties.

Helen Tovey, editor of Family Tree magazine, has shared her top tips on how to find out more about your street and house if they were built from World War II onwards.

Modern street history top tips

Here are Helen's top tips:

If you live in a new build area, there’s still so much you can do to research the history of the area.

  • Investigate what use the land was put to in the decades and centuries before your home and street were built. Whether formerly a field or a bombsite, the land will have a story to tell.
  • Think about the street names and house names. Sometimes you may assume that they are just attractive names. But by studying old maps and directories you may find that that a road name ties into that of an old field marked on a tithe map, or that there was a house on that site, with the same name, many years before.
  • When searching electoral registers, to learn about the inhabitants of your home or street, be mindful of their privacy when searching in recent decades – for instance removing personal names if publishing your findings.
  • Read the reports and commissions that have been written about your area; these will often detail what is deemed of special and historic interest about your local area and they may mention the purpose and intention of new developments too. These are all interesting current information to store – and will in time become part of the history of the area.
  • Have a think about the precise era your home was built in – is it post-war building boom (as part of the plan to replace the 2 million homes destroyed in Britain in WW2); or perhaps part of the large-scale social housing built through the 1950s and 60s?
  • Track down old photos and magazines. Seeing photos of your street in past decades will help you see how it’s evolved over time: how few cars were parked on the road; the change in tastes of gates, fences and flower beds. And magazines, from the post-war consumer boon of the 50s and 60s, say, will give you ideas about the furniture, fittings, appliances and décor that your home would have had, when it was first built.
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