Gateway Housing ready for 90th birthday bash with memories of 1926 General Strike

Gateway's maintenance team

Gateway's maintenance team - Credit: Gateway Housing Assoc

A social housing organisation which pioneered training programmes to get the unemployed off the dole queue in London’s East End during the Great Depression is getting ready for its 90th anniversary in the New Year.

Gateway Housing, which first opened in the year of the 1926 General Strike which brought industry and the London Docks to a standstill, was among the first to take on the role of helping its tenants—and others later—find employment.

It set a ‘social tone’ in caring for its tenants through the Depression of the 1930s and the Second World War that followed.

Today it runs Step into Employment workshops teaching “employability” skills with practical help in how to market yourself and produce a CV.

It also employs its own maintenance team rather than use outside contractors for dealing with tenants’ day-to-day repairs and servicing.

But Gateway started life modestly as the Bethnal Green Housing Association.

“It’s a history we are very proud of and can’t wait to celebrate,” the organisation’s Eve McMahon said. “We’ll be running events in the New Year to discover more of the history of the East End and the social housing of the area.”

Most Read

Gateway opened with just one block of tenements, Queen Margaret Flats in St Jude’s Road, off Old Bethnal Green Road, which it still owns and manages today.

“It may have been the year of the General Strike,” Eve added. “But Bethnal Green Housing gained the attention of the Minister of Health at the time, Neville Chamberlain, later becoming Prime Minister, who opened the scheme.”

Gateway, 90 years on, rents out 2,800 homes across east London in the three local authority areas of Tower Hamlets and neighbouring Hackney and Newham.

Its investment in the community includes a Winter Warmer scheme where its housing officers visit elderly tenants to make sure there is enough heating and insulation in their homes to keep safe during the winter months.

Meanwhile, its Step into Employment project held at Mile End’s ‘Zone’ centre, ironically, has a success rate reflecting the organisation’s age—90 per cent signing up for the workshops have managed to get full-time or part-time jobs through it.