A History of the Ministry of Information, 1939-46

73 69 74 70


With this part we come to the pivotal data of the entire enquiry. The last section of the questionnaire was devoted to information concerning willingness to move from Willesden and willingness to move to a new town. Thus the section fell into four subdivisions: (i) had informants already prepared plans to move elsewhere, and if not, whether in general terms they would like to move?; (ii) What were the factors which they thought might make them reluctant to move away from Willesden?: (iii) How far were informants willing to move to a new town, and in what circumstances?: (iv) If they were to move, what type of house would they want, and how much rent would they be prepared to pay?

The intention, therefore, was to ascertain, before the question of the new town was raised, to what extent informants had already completed real plans to move, and the extent to which, without the possible attraction of the new town idea, a desire to move already existed. Many interviewers reported that informants’ responses to these questions revealed a good deal of emotion - either of anger, impatience or of hopelessness. It was common for informants to say that they would move “anywhere” to escape their present discomfort. Others commented on the uselessness of past efforts to find fresh accommodation, and the “unfair” treatment which they said they had received from the Borough Housing Department. Consequently it was not surprising to find that very few people had definite plans (as distinct from a mere desire) to move from their present home in the next 2 or 3 years:

WILLESDEN: “Have you made any plans for moving from your present home in the next 2 or 3 years?” Men and women.

No. %
Yes 5
No 95
No answer -
ALL MEN & WOMEN 3076 100

The discrepancy between desire and fulfillment is made clear when the proportion who wished to move is compared with the proportion who had been able to make actual plans:

WILLESDEN: “Would you like to move from your present home in the next 2 or 3 years?” Men and women.

No. %
Yes 62
Doubtful 7
No 30
No answer 1
ALL MEN & WOMEN 3976 100

It has already been shown that 60% of the adult population were dissatisfied with their present housing, so that in combination with this widespread desire to move, the existing dissatisfaction with present living conditions in Willesden assumes remarkable proportions. But not all the dissatisfied wish to leave the Borough. About one-third of those who intended, or who wished, to move from their present home said that they would stay in Willesden. It is worth noting on the other hand, that more of those who had definite plans were staying in the Borough, than of those who only expressed their desire:

WILLESDEN: “Where would you like to go, when you move?” Men and women.

Destination No. % of those with definite plans No. % of those who wished to move
Another part of Willesden 39 28
(1) Inner London 3 6
Outer London 15 25
Outside London 40 36
Don't mind 1 4
No answer 2 1
TOTAL 138 100 1916 100

What is particularly noticeable here is the repetition of the pre-war centrifugal movement of London's population. Of the people who did not wish to remain in Willesden itself, very few intended to move into Inner London - the majority wished to move to outer suburbs or to places outside London entirely.

But while previous pages have made it abundantly clear why Willesden people were dissatisfied with their homes, other data collected as subsidiary to the present question gives some indication of the factors resulting in unwillingness to move. The informants who had no desire to move from their present homes were asked the reasons for this. It cannot be said, however, that their response provided really conclusive evidence: indeed, it is fairly clear that most people had not analysed their motives in great detail. The largest group, for example, (62%) were the people who merely said that they were “quite satisfied” and “had no desire to leave Willesden”, without any further analysis of their reasons for satisfaction. A small number of these added that the presence of friends and neighbours was important. A smaller group (8%) were people who owned their house and did not want to leave it. More interesting were the people who said that moving would be inadvisable because their present home was convenient for the place of work of the chief wage earner, or of some other member of the family (11%); and those who said that they, or some member of their family, were too old, or too ill, to move away (7%).

It was clearly of importance to find some way of breaking up the large group whose views on this matter. When reduced to essentials, were no more than the expression of a vague contentment. All informants were therefore given a list of seven factors to each of which they were asked to assign a position on a 3-point scale of importance: Important, Fairly important, Not important. Unfortunately, many people found this concept a difficult one to grasp, and, when understood, difficult to apply. The results must therefore be treated with reserve, although in general terms they are of interest.

None of the factors mentioned were considered important by a majority of informants, but there was no doubt that the job of the chief wage earner, or of the informant, was most commonly thought important - by 49% of housewives and 47% of other adults. “Liking your neighbours” was thought important by only 15% of housewives and 13% of other adults. This can be seen from the following table.

[124] “Inner London”: inside the L.C.C. area; “Outer London”: outside the L.C.C. area but within Greater London; “Outside London”: any place outside Greater London. See Appendix III. pp. 125, 126.

We use cookies to track usage and preferences.

Privacy & Cookie Policy Accept & Close