The King Shows his Interest in Housing Conditions

Thursday 17th September 1936

Visitors to and exhibitors at the Building Exhibition at Olympia, which used the slogan "New Homes for Old" were in for a surprise, when the King, freshly back from his Mediterranean holiday, made an unheralded visit. It was in marked contrast to his antics with Mrs. Simpson on and off the yacht Nahlin which had so scandalised and delighted the readers of the non-British press around the world, who were fully informed on the topic whilst the British press maintained its discreet silence. The lack of advance notice meant that the King was able to move around the exhibition relatively freely to begin with at least and it might even have been intended to prevent him being mobbed by the usual adoring crowds.

The exhibition was a traditional object for Royal interest, but the King did take a genuine interest in the housing conditions of his subjects. Many of his tours to the provinces had  featured visits to poorer, if not downright slum, dwellings. He spent much of his time at Olympia looking at the stand of the Housing Centre, which combined the work of Mars (Modern Architectural Research Group) and the A.T.O. (Architects and Technicians Organization) striving to identify objectively the practical needs of housing. He was especially taken by the fact that the mock-up old person’s one-room flat had a photograph of his grandfather and namesake Edward VII.


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