Today its difficult to imagine a time when architects, intellectuals and even politicians could be passionate about social housing.
In the words of Russian émigré architect, Berthold Lubetkin - 'nothing is too good for ordinary people'. Lubetkin was the main champion of modernism in mid 20th century Britain, but another less well known modernist architect who also embraced the use of new technology, materials and engineering, was Joseph Boshier.
I first came across Boshier in the late seventies when I was an art student. An article in an obscure architectural journal revealed Boshier as not only an intriguing character, but an inventive architect. I loved the clean cut look of his buildings. Later I was to find he had been a member of the British Union of Fascists - the feeling of disappointment was tangible.
Caught up in the heady politics of the thirties, Boshier joined forces with his aristocratic wife's friend Oswald Mosley. When they met, Mosley was in the Labour government and both men advocated Keynsian economics as a way out of depression and poverty - both supported a united Ireland. After the horrors of the war, Boshier wrote of his friendship with Mosley and his charisma with a venom.The failure of Chesney Court was to tip Joseph over the edge. Already suffering from guilt and depression he hid himself away and the architectural world thought him dead.
Boshier's life spans a period when there was a belief in social housing – that there should be an end to slums and draconian landlords and good affordable housing for all. It's interesting that Boshier died at the time of the Falklands campaign, an event that would strengthen a government dedicated to the demise of social housing.