In May 1964, Ian Waites’s family moved into a brand new, two-bedroomed council house on the just-completed Middlefield Lane estate in Gainsborough, Lincolnshire. The estate was a typical provincial example of a post-World War Two local authority housing scheme intended to provide new homes for working-class families. It was characterised by modernist ideas in architecture and planning: the houses had Formica kitchen ‘tops’, a TV aerial socket, and a ‘picture-window’, while the estate itself was almost wholly pedestrianised.
Ian Waites’s photographs document this world, and his recollective descriptions of the estate during his childhood in the 1960s and ’70s attempt to regain a sense of what it ‘felt like’ to live there back then. Today, these estates are commonly viewed as problematic and unattractive places but Middlefield: A postwar council estate in time presents a more nuanced perspective by demonstrating that they were carefully and thoughtfully planned, with rich and meaningful histories.
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