By Artemis Photiadou
The East End was dirty, overcrowded, and rife with crime during the industrial revolution. By 1880, ‘slum housing’ was at breaking point. Intervention, however, came not from the state, but from philanthropic enterprises. The ‘Dwellings Companies’ built new homes for the East End poor and in doing so pioneered what we would now call social housing. Before establishing Toynbee Hall, Samuel Barnett formed one such company; the East End Dwellings Company. In place of slums, it built functional homes to elevate the poor – often quite literally – out of squalor.