A History of Enfield Volume 4: A Time of Change


1939 to 1969 by Monica Smith


This was, possibly, the time of greatest social change since the Industrial Revolution. World War II did not result in the massive slaughter of troops of the Great War but bombs from enemy aircraft, and later the V1 and V2 rockets, brought the war to the Home Front with the destruction of homes and industry and loss of life. Edmonton was the worst affected part of our area. All citizens were united by a determination to win the war and put up with many changes to their lives such as food rationing, the evacuation of children and overcrowded housing. Conscription of both men and women, too, proved to be a social leveler. The unemployment and poverty of the 1930s was replaced by increased demand for workers, especially in the arms factories of the Lea Valley where women took over many jobs. This encouraged many women to continue to work after the war.

Victory over Germany and Japan in 1945 was joyfully celebrated but the following few years were tough ones with continuing housing, food and fuel shortages. However, the coming of the Welfare State brought benefits to many and the establishment of the National Health Service offered free medical care to all. Secondary education was extended to all children and some working-class ones had the opportunity to study at universities and then to join the professional classes.

Major changes were the reorganisation of local government with the amalgamation of the boroughs of Edmonton, Enfield and Southgate into the London Borough of Enfield in 1965 and the coming of comprehensive education. By 1969 most people had a standard of living far higher than that of the 1930s. Houses were modernised and equipped whit domestic appliances, medical care and education were free to all and wages sufficient to allow spending on holidays, leisure, good food and clothing. However local industry was already beginning to suffer from competition from Asia and the out look for the coming decade was not so rosy. Hard back with dust jacket.

A history of Enfield Volume 4 – 1939 to 1969: A time of change by Monica Smith. Enfield : The Enfield Society, 2015; 24cm; ISBN 978 0 907318 23 1

Cover picture: Tower blocks on the Barbot Estate