Octavia Hill

Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the Victorian social reformer Octavia Hill.From the 1850s until her death in 1912, Octavia Hill was an energetic campaigner who did much to improve the lot of impoverished city dwellers. She was a pioneer of social housing who believed that there were better and more humane ways of arranging accommodation for the poor than through the state. Aided at first by her friend John Ruskin, the essayist and art critic, she bought houses and let them to the urban dispossessed. Octavia Hill provided an early model of social work, did much to preserve urban open spaces, and was the first to use the term ‘green belt’ to describe the rural areas around London. She was also one of the founders of the National Trust. Yet her vision of social reform, involving volunteers and private enterprise rather than central government, was often at odds with that of her contemporaries.

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  • Dinah Birch 13 episodes
    Professor of English Literature and Pro-Vice Chancellor for Research at Liverpool University
  • Lawrence Goldman 10 episodes
    Fellow in Modern History at St Peter's College, Oxford
  • Gillian Darley 2 episodes
    Historian and biographer of Octavia Hill

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Programme ID: b0100jpz

Episode page: bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0100jpz

Auto-category: 360 (Social problems and social services)

Hello (First sentence from this episode) Hello, in an alleyway just off Marleybone High Street in central London, there's a handsome townhouse with a blue plaque.