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Identity Statement

Reference code(s): LCC/WE/RC
Held at: London Metropolitan Archives
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Date(s): 1939-1957
Level of description: Collection
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Extent: 13.33 linear metres
Name of creator(s): LCC | London County Council x London County Council


Administrative/Biographical history:

In 1948 the poor law, after an existence of almost 350 years, was abolished. Those among the poor whose financial needs were not met by national insurance were given material help by the National Assistance Board. Local authorities were delegated some responsibilities by the Board, for example the provision of reception centres for the temporary accommodation of vagrants and persons without a settled way of life. In addition the National Assistance Act, 1948, required local authorities to make residential provision for the blind, disabled, elderly and infirm. However, under the Act these services were not to be provided free as a kind of official charity. Persons receiving help were to pay according to their means, even if their means were no more than a retirement pension. The Council's responsibilities in all this related therefore to the provision of establishments of various kinds. At the end of the Second World War there were public assistance institutions (formerly the old workhouses), casual wards (where tramps were put up for the night), three lodging houses, and, left over from wartime activities, the rest centres and rest homes. The Welfare Department was responsible for the organisation and management of the various residential homes, temporary homes and institutions for the assistance of the poor.

Rest centres were established during the Second World War to accommodate people made homeless by enemy bombing action until permanent accommodation could be found for them. After the war many families were in desperate need of shelter but accommodation was scarce. By March 1947 twelve rest centres were in operation to shelter families, including converted furniture stores, offices and staff quarters. By 1949 demand was such that it became necessary to restrict entry to mothers with children under sixteen; fathers, older children and childless couples were left to fend for themselves. In 1952 a night receiving unit was opened for families arriving in London at night from out of county who had made no arrangements for accommodation. In the morning they were urged to make other arrangements. In August 1953 the rest centres were discontinued. During their eight years of postwar operation they had taken in 5,700 families comprising 26,000 persons. The centres were replaced by half-way houses or short stay accommodation.


Scope and content/abstract:

Records of the London County Council Welfare Department relating to rest centres, 1939-1957.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

LCC/WE/RC/1: General files.

Conditions governing access:

These records are available for public inspection, although records containing personal information are subject to access restrictions under the UK Data Protection Act, 1998.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright: City of London.

Finding aids:

Please see online catalogues at:

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Acquired with the records of its parent body, the London County Council. Additional accession of case files received in 1955 (AC/55/078, AC/55/095).

Allied Materials

Related material:

Publication note:

For further information on the history of the LCC please see Achievement: A Short History of the London County Council by W Eric Jackson (1965), LMA Library reference 18.0 1965, The London County Council 1938, LMA Library reference 18.7 SER 4, and The Youngest County: A description of London as a county and its public services, 1951, LMA Library reference 18.0 1951.

Description Notes

Archivist's note:

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
April to June 2009

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