Sudbury’s Slums in 1933

A letter to the Suffolk Free Press in August 1933 expressed concern that whilst the Corporation had built new houses on the Wents Estate, nothing was being done to clear away the slums in Sudbury or, at the very least, compel the landlords to repair the houses, provide water, clean conditions and sanitary and lavatory accommodation.

The author of the letter, A. Prior, was told by a member of the Council that there ‘are no slums in Sudbury’ and that ‘we cannot compel the landlords to do it; it would cost them too much’.

Mr. Prior then related to him his experiences of the previous week when he had looked in at a ‘square’ off Gregory Street called Overalls Yard.

The opening is fairly wide, sufficiently wide for a workman’s truck to negotiate easily. At the end of this opening, which corresponds with the depth of the houses on either side, one sees a dusty yard. There are houses on two sides of this square space with, I assume, accomodation for some 40 people. On the right, between two cottages, is a partially demolished one, and there are signs that others are suffering from an acute condition of senile decay.

At the entrance to the yard there is a stand pipe fitted with a tap. It was leaking when I saw it. The house farthest from the tap is some twenty yards, and those unfortunate people have to traverse the whole of that distance to get some water for tea or store it in cans. The lavatory accommodation would disgrace the worst slum in London. I have been through areas outside big towns which have bewildered me; but for a provincial town of the character of Sudbury, with plenty of air and water, to possess such horrors is almost beyond belief.