Hartcliffe Betrayed

The fading of a post-war dream

Publication Details
Number: 62
By: Paul Smith
Edition: 2024
ISBN: 978-1-911522-74-4
Number of pages: 150
Format: Bound Booklet
Page Details
Section: BRHG Publications
Subjects: Class, Modern History (Post World War II)
Tags: , , ,
Posted: Modified:

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How a garden city became a housing estate, 1943-1963.

A salutary lesson for current planners can be drawn from this detailed examination of the failure of an ambitious project in the immediate post-war environment to live up to its expectations. Houses were desperately needed: What principles should underpin a new ‘settlement’? Where should the houses go? Who were they for? And what provision should be made for the likely political and financial changes over the timescale of the project?

Changing governments, shifting priorities and inevitable cuts meant the dream was progressively trimmed and gradually became drowned in a sea of MUD.

In Hartcliffe Betrayed, quotes from official documents, contemporary newspapers and interviews with ‘pioneer’ residents show the downward slide from ‘ideal neighbourhood’ to dormitory estate.

Read the article on Hartcliffe Betrayed in the Bristol Post The lost ‘Garden City’ of Bristol – new book reveals how people on one of Britain’s biggest estates were ‘betrayed’

Download the pdf of the article on Hartcliffe Betrayed in the Bristol Times history section of the Bristol Post Solution to housing problem never happened.

Read the review article on the Bristol 24/7 website: Hartcliffe’s hidden history expolored in new book.

Front cover showing girls playing in front of a Hartcliffe council houseBack cover with back-blurb


Delighted to have a copy of Hartcliffe Betrayed, the much anticipated volume by Paul Smith. The book follows the planning process for this post war suburb and how visionary ideas slowly got watered down. With his long standing commitment to the development of housing in Bristol I can think of no better person than Paul Smith to have researched and written this treatise. Diligently researched and scrupulously referenced Hartcliffe Betrayed is not only a ‘must read’ for urban planners but also a compelling study for anyone interested in Bristol’s history. An instant classic.

Mike Manson (Bristol Civic Society)

[This] book is a valuable reminder that our aspirations for social housing must be matched by the quality of their implementation. Spending on housing and community is an investment that pays for itself many times over. Doing it ‘on the cheap’ is a betrayal of our values, interests and futures.

Paul Smith’s book is a powerful testament to just that and it is well worth a read.

John Boughton, Municipal Dreams

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  1. A very timely publication at the dawn of a more progressive council!
    The appalling consequences of poor planning, the creating of a ghetto and the human costs are immeasurable and devastating to generations … and it’s not just Hartcliffe.

    Broken promises and dreams have wrecked lives and families and immobilised their future opportunities.

    I look forward to this book but it will tell me what I already know. I sincerely hope that it will influence a new generation of planners and policy makers. We need this!!

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