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The Lambeth Housing Film

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The Lambeth Housing Film

An appeal for funds to improve the lot of slum-dwellers in the south London borough of Lambeth

Documentary 1937 17 mins

Overview

Lambeth in the 1930s: home of palaces and slums. Starting with the former we see Lambeth Palace and the (less palatial, but still impressive) W.H. Smith factory abutting the River Thames. But the real focus of this film is the Lambeth slums, the need for improvement, and an appeal for funds. Exquisitely-lit shots of hovel interiors do little to mask the extreme poverty and unsanitary conditions.

Perhaps as an incentive to donate, the film shows a glamorous ceremony in which Lilian Baylis, manager of the Old Vic and Sadler’s Wells theatres, is seen laying the foundation stone of a new housing development. Despite the film’s hopeful tone, it's hard not to watch it and think of the Blitz looming over the new buildings.