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Growing up in working-class London between the wars

Giles, William Frederick (2002) Growing up in working-class London between the wars. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.94368) (KAR id:94368)

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This is a study of working-class childhood in the London of the inter-war period. Using a mixture of official records, oral testimony, and autobiography it seeks to explore the experiences of growing up in a working-class family between the wars; showing how this experience differed from that of their parents generation.

To achieve this aim the thesis looks at five areas of children’s lives to discover what, if any, changes had taken place after the Great War. Starting with home life the thesis asks whether children of the inter-war period lived in better housing conditions than their forbears. It seeks to discover how much impact technological advances like the development of broadcast radio and domestic electrification had on working-class children’s lives. It goes on to look at education asking what effect changes in the structure of the education system and in teaching methods had on working-class children’s school experiences and educational opportunities. The thesis then looks at the development of the Schools Medical, Meals and Welfare Services asking what impact these made. From here the thesis seeks to explore the world of children’s play, asking what sorts of games children play and how they were affected by the introduction of new media like radio and more importantly film. The attempts by those in authority be they parents, teachers, social reformers or representatives of government departments to control children’s play are also examined to discover their motivations and to assess their success. Finally the thesis looks briefly at the world of school children’s employment showing how due to a combination of complacency, lack of effort and ignorance government attempts to eliminate or even to adequately control child labour failed. Most importantly however, this thesis is about working-class children and their experiences while growing up in London between the wars.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: Cunningham, Hugh
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.94368
Additional information: This thesis has been digitised by EThOS, the British Library digitisation service, for purposes of preservation and dissemination. It was uploaded to KAR on 25 April 2022 in order to hold its content and record within University of Kent systems. It is available Open Access using a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-commercial, No Derivatives ( licence so that the thesis and its author, can benefit from opportunities for increased readership and citation. This was done in line with University of Kent policies ( If you feel that your rights are compromised by open access to this thesis, or if you would like more information about its availability, please contact us at and we will seriously consider your claim under the terms of our Take-Down Policy (
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of History
SWORD Depositor: SWORD Copy
Depositing User: SWORD Copy
Date Deposited: 13 Oct 2022 13:43 UTC
Last Modified: 13 Oct 2022 13:43 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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