When the war ended in November 1918, preparations for building the Logie Housing Scheme were well underway. You can read more about the background to the scheme in last month’s blog post. After the scheme was approved by the Council in July 1918 and the Local Government Board in August 1918, the City Engineer’s office began work on the preparations for building 252 new homes.
First the roads were laid out. You can see this clearly in the picture above, which was taken on 1st July 1919. The main avenue was to be 30 feet wide, with the branch roads to be 25ft and the smaller road 15ft. At a time when the car was still a novelty, this was very wide. Then tenders were taken for the stone bottoming and for laying the water mains and installing hydrants. By 26th March 1919 131 were employed on building the sewers and roads.
In early 1919 there was some discussion with the Local Government Board over the designs and cost estimations for the project. The council proposed the 3 roomed properties to be 9s and 6d a week, with the smaller 2 roomed properties to be 7s a week. The council estimated that spending would total £10,929 11s 5d (very specific!). Rents would bring in £5603 with £5326 11s 5d on maintenance and other annual fees. This was based on prices being more than the pre-war prices. The Council also asked for a grant from the Local Government Board for the experimental central heating system. The plan was to have a central boiler house that would pump hot water into each home.
There was also a dispute over whether to light the houses with gas or electric lighting. The price of connecting small houses had gone up by about £8 since the start of the war, and many councillors thought that gas would be better, seeing as there was going to be gas supply to each home anyway. It was argued that the amount of electricity that would be used wouldn’t be worth the installation cost.
The first milestone for the project came on Friday 4th July 1919. Sir George MacCrae, the chairman of the Local Government Board for Scotland, broke ground at the Logie site, or turned the first sod as they called it at the time. The amount of umbrellas on show and the rather heavy overcoats suggest that it wasn’t a particularly nice July day. Sir George remarked that the shortage of housing in Scotland was a big issue and that conditions in the existing housing was equally appalling. He said “strenuous endeavours were necessary to meet the situation and make Scotland really a proper place to live in. We owed that to those who had fought to make these conditions possible.” He then raised the issue of the high infant mortality rate in Dundee, and how schemes such as the Logie one would help better the situation. Statistics reported in the Evening Telegraph on the same day pointed that the rate was 123 infant deaths per 1000 births in Dundee, this was compared to 113 in Glasgow and 93 in Edinburgh.
Sir George was presented with a ceremonial silver spade engraved with the date, his name and position and “turned the first sod on the site of the Logie scheme for houses for the working classes, this housing scheme being the first in Scotland, to be proceed with by a local authority in partnership with the State”. (Must have been a big spade or very small writing).
Work had begun.