The 'Small' Houses
From Cottages to Modern Homes
Until after the end of World War 2, the majority of Mulbarton families lived in small cottages with very basic facilities. Many of these were 'tied' cottages - rented to agricultural labourers for the duration of their time working on the farm. Tenancies were generally up to Michaelmas (29th September). After the harvest, 'ag. labs.' could find themselves not only out of a job, but out of a house, with the consequent upheaval for their family. And anyone who couldn't work because of illness or injury, and couldn't pay the rent, were equally likely to lose their home and find themselves 'on the Parish' or - worse still - in the Workhouse. For Mulbarton unfortunates, the Henstead Union Workhouse was at Swainsthorpe (now flats and houses on the left of the road from Mulbarton to Swainsthorpe).
Very few people owned their own homes - the Poor Rate Book lists owners and occupiers as well as area (in Acres, Rods & Perches), rateable value (in £ s d) and some indication of who is due to pay. Unfortuantely there is no address for the non-resident owners, many of whom did not live locally. A transcript of the 1876 book is here.
Here is a detailed description of Hall Cottages, Long Lane (featured in the gallery above) written by George Skipper who lived there:
The better cottages were built of brick, and might have had their own well or pump, but many were built of less expensive material - 'clay lump'. This was local clay, made into blocks in wooden moulds and dried, then either built up as a wall or filled in between a timber frame. Often the corners were rounded. The whole construction was then daubed with clay, tarred over to make it waterproof, and sometimes limewashed to smarten it up. These cottages could be very damp, and the walls could deteriorate rapidly if water got into them from blocked gutters or broken pipes.
Clay lump cottages were some of the first to be condemned by the local Council, and the residents were some of the first to be offered Council Houses.
From the 1930s an increasing number of well-built, brick Council Houses were built, especially in the 1950s and 1960s to meet the housing shortage. To begin with, local people were rehoused, but later 'outsiders' in need of housing were coming into the village.
From the mid-1960s came the ever-increasing expansion of private houses on increasingly large estates - virtually all 'owner-occupied'. These had every 'luxury' compared to the cottages of 50 years earlier! But most of these were occupied by 'outsiders' - including many from London and the Home Counties. Mulbarton had changed out of all recognition!