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Archaeology of domestic life in early 20th century Britain

The aim of this blog is to publish data on early 20th century buildings, whilst this is still accessible. Much material of interest to the historian is being destroyed through 'home improvements' and DIY, and objects are increasingly being divorced from their context through dispersal after the death of their owners. By creating an easily accessible contextual record of material culture, it is hoped that those interested in this period of history may have a resource through which the details of domestic life might be studied.

If you have any artefacts of interest, or make discoveries during the process of your own investigations that you would like to share, please contact me!

BUILDING B (Lymehurst): outline

This building is a small detached property in western Derby, completed during the early 1930s. DIY projects are providing the opportunity to investigate the development of this building in close detail; original plans have also been retained, forming an invaluable resource (see plans, to right of page). This building also forms a useful study, being occupied by few families since its construction, and rental ensuring little alteration to the fabric, or decorative order. There also intentions to renovate this property in period style.

It was built by a local builder, and subsequently inhabited by a close relative. This suggests that provision  of particular features may have gone beyond those of speculative construction, although there are a number of features that suggest generational variation. The archaeological traces of behaviour are particularly well preserved, providing a useful case study for this building genre. Investigation of this building is ongoing, and it is anticipated will take place over several years - so watch this space!

Brief description:
The property is entered through a door in an open porch, into a small hall, with strairs leading to the first floor, and doors leading to the lounge and kitchen. The Lounge is a large room, with leaded windows to the front and side of the property. The kitchen is a small room, with understair store cupboard off, and has a door to what was the scullery and pantry.

The stairs lead to a half-landing, from which the bathroom is accessed, with further stairs to the first floor; the landing has doors to a bedroom over the Kitchen and scullery; and 2 bedrooms - one large and one small - over the lounge.

The road on which it lies contained a small number of large Victorian and Edwardian properties prior to its construction (however, the road runs across a cross-roads, and is renamed. This street contains a row of small terraced houses, mostly constructed for factory workers). The building firm that bought this land also constructed other properties within close proximity at around the same time, although a search of the trade directories and census data indicates this property was inhabited by the brother of the builder.

This may explain why the property seemingly took sometime to construct: land was purchased in 1923, and oral testimony (second-hand from occupant as a boy in the 1930s, via owner) indicates that the building was not occupied until 1930. However, trade directories indicate no evidence for its construction before 1933. This may correspond with the birth of the first son of the married couple who came to occupy the building until (current evidence suggests) the mid 1990s.

Side views (east and west), with 1990s extension visible on right side of right hand picture