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The Cutteslowe Wall... keeping the poor out. Built in the 1930s

By Kat, Jan 31 2017 06:10PM

I also found this article written by Ann Spokes-Symonds

The Cutteslowe Walls were built in 1934, were over two metres high and topped with lethal spikes. They divided the City Council's Cutteslowe estate from private housing to the west which was developed by Clive Saxton of the Urban Housing Company.

He was afraid that his housing would not sell if so-called 'slum' dwellers were going to be neighbours, and the walls were built to separate them.

The council tenants soon raised a petition asking for the walls to be demolished and Abe Lazarus, a Communist politician, took up their cause. The residents doubted whether the interference of a left-wing politician would help their cause but In 1936 Lazarus and his supporters marched on the wall with pickaxes. The police barred their way and the attempt failed.

In June 1938 the City Council, against legal advice, took the law into their own hands and demolished the walls with a steam roller. But they were sued by the company and the city was forced to re-erect the walls.

There were various attempts during World War II to have the walls demolished for safety reasons but these also failed. A tank on a practice exercise did drive through one of the walls but the War Office had to pay for the rebuilding.

In 1953, councils were given powers of compulsory purchase and the council adopted these in 1955.

Finally, on 9th March 1959, after the city had purchased the strips of land on which the walls stood, the walls came down. Councillor Edmund Gibbs, son of an earlier campaigner for demolition, and Chairman of the City Estates Committee, took a ceremonial swipe with a pickaxe at the top of the first wall to come down.

"Later, when the official party had left I waited for the first of the walls to come down and then was able to walk through and thus be the first person to do so."

On 9th March 2006, Mrs Doris Hayle, one-time resident of Cutteslowe, unveiled a blue plaque on a former Council House in Aldrich Road next to where a wall once stood. This was to commemorate and celebrate the final demolition of these notorious and divisive walls, a monument to 20th century snobbery.

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