History KS3 / GCSE: Poverty and overcrowding in London’s East End

Over archive footage, we hear how in the 1960s much of the bomb damage from the Second World War in the East End still hadn’t been cleared.

Teenager Nicole talks to her grandfather Steve, who took photos of poverty and overcrowding as part of a social change campaign for the Ilford Recorder local newspaper.

The photos show families living in overcrowded housing, people still living in temporary Nissen huts 25 years after the war ended, and children playing on bombsites.

Sophie meets Ann and Debbie, a mother and daughter featured in Steve’s photos.

They remember a strong sense of community, and we see images of the estate children playing together, and hear how neighbours pulled together to help each other.

Sophie meets a former local newspaper editor, who talks about the poor living conditions and the tough working conditions for dockers, who were on zero hours contracts with no compensation if they were injured and poor health and safety.

He recalls trade union activity at the time to try and improve the workers conditions.

Teacher Notes

This could be used to show the different types of historical source material: eyewitness testimony, newspaper articles, photographs and interviews.

This could also be used to set up a discussion on poverty in the UK._

Curriculum Notes

This short film is relevant for teaching history at Key Stage 3 and Key Stage 4 / GCSE in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and National 3, 4 and 5 in Scotland.

Some of the social issues highlighted could also be relevant for teacher Citizenship, PSHE or Modern Studies.