The Artizans, Laborourers and
General Dwellings Company

Artizans, Labourers and General Dwellings Company

In 1867, a group of modest clerks and working men formed a joint stock company called The Artizans, Labourers and General Dwellings Company to build small houses for working people. The founder was William Austin, born 1804, who began life on a farm scaring birds at a penny a day, and never learnt to read or write. He moved to London, working as a navvy and becoming a contractor in a small way, laying drains. At the age of forty seven in 1851, he renounced drink and this was to have an effect on the estates the Company he was to build later on, where there are no pubs.

The formation of the Artizans, Labourers and General Dwellings Company, later called The Artizans, must be seen against the background of squalid working class housing, dank courts full of cottages without proper light or air, lack of sanitation, cholera, putrid drinking water, and other evils of the time. There had been much agitation and Acts of Parliament as this list shows:-

  • 1841 - Metropolitan Association for Improving the Dwellings of the Industrious Classes formed by Southwood Smith
  • 1842 - 'Sanitary Conditions of the Labouring Classes', published a report on Public Health, by Chadwick, the great scourge of politicians.
  • 1844 - The Society for the Improvement of the Conditions of the Labouring Classes was formed’

References to Southwood Smith in this website



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