Item Details

New light on an old problem: Child-related archaeological finds and the impact of the ‘Radburn’ council estate plan.

Issue: Vol 6 No. 2 (2019)

Journal: Journal of Contemporary Archaeology

Subject Areas: Archaeology

DOI: 10.1558/jca.39686


This paper uses new data from archaeological excavations to explore the effectiveness of the “Radburn” layout used in many post-war social housing estates in the UK, the name referring to a design modelled on Radburn in New Jersey in the United States. Their design aimed to provide healthy living environments for less-affluent families by fronting homes onto communal pedestrianized “greens”, enabling people to circulate and children to “play out” safely near their homes. However, many Radburn estates are now socially deprived and explanations for this have included suggestions that the Radburn plan was inappropriate to the wants and needs of resident families. Analysis of 20 small archaeological excavations carried out in 2016 by residents of a Radburn-type council estate in Lincolnshire recovered lost aspects of its heritage, including a large number of child-related items from sites on the communal greens. This suggests that the greens were indeed used as intended for children’s play, undermining suggestions that inappropriate design was a significant factor in the decline of estates such as this.

Open Access Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives: CC BY-NC-ND

Author: Carenza Lewis, Ian Waites

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