GALLERY: Gritty Images From Poverty Stricken UK In The 60s

Nick Hedge’s depressing photos of poverty in The UK make sobering viewing. But have we come so far?

In 1968 Nick Hedges, a Bromsgrove born photographer, was commissioned by the homeless charity Shelter to take some images for an upcoming advert campaign.

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Hedges took his camera to some of the UK’s poorest regions and started snapping. He photographed slum housing in major cities including Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Bradford and London, documenting the distressing conditions faced by more than three million people.

The photos he took became part of a project called Make Life Worth Living. Many of the 1,000+ images contained children so they weren’t allowed to be shown in public until relatively recently. Below are a few shots from this collection.

The 60’s seems like a long time ago for those of us that weren’t born yet. But has so much changed? Hedges said:

Although these photographs have become historical documents, they serve to remind us that secure and adequate housing is the basis of a civilised urban society. The failure of successive governments to provide for it is a sad mark of society’s inaction. The photographs should allow us to celebrate progress, yet all they can do is haunt us with a sense of failure.

Click through the following slides:

Nick Hedges - Make Life Worth Living 1

Mr and Mrs M and their four children lived in a council house in Vincent Crescent, Balsall Heath. The house had no bathroom, no hot water, an outside toilet and inside walls running with damp. The children were sleeping on two soaking wet seat cushions covered by a couple of old coats; there was no heating, the snow lay thick outside and the windows were broken.

Birmingham, January 1969.


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