‘Just Like the Country’ records the experience of families moving from the tenement blocks and small streets of inner London to the outer London housing estates built between the two world wars by the London County Council. Often they would take up residence before the streets were finished and the shops in place and where there was almost no social infra-stucture. When they arrived to view their new homes, many said it was just like the country. Despite the settling in problems, the families had ample compensation by way of inside toilets, baths, hot water, gardens, new schools and far better air and general living conditions. It was a significant social experiment about which little has been recorded from the tenants’ perspective.
“My parents were happy to move out here because they’d got a home at last, their first actual home. They’d been married God knows how many years and they’d got five children at this time. They’d lived in rooms, sharing cookers and water, so it was absolutely fantastic that here at last was this beautiful house.” Vera Andrews, Downham Estate.
The play, written for the company by Joyce Holliday, was performed all over London and especially in tenants’ halls and social clubs on the estates in question. The performances were often the starting point for inter-generational discussions as children were interested in the stories behind the estates where they lived.