Housing - The Building of Labourers' Cottages

Another very important function of the boards of guardians was their role as a housing authority.

Labourers Cottage, Model Plan D Under a series of acts from 1883 to 1936, specifically designed to improve the living conditions of agricultural labourers, local authorities were involved in locating and compulsorily purchasing sites, building cottages and housing people.

The first local authority given the responsibility of building cottages for farm labourers was the board of guardians. The board of guardians acted as the rural sanitary authorities under the Labourers' Acts, however, their work was painfully slow. In Donegal, only 17 cottages were built under the original 1883 Act by the boards. Numbers considerably increased as other local authorities took over responsibility for public housing. The rural district councils in Donegal were responsible for the building of 1,458 cottages. The board of health and public assistance, formed in 1924, built 475 houses between 1925 and 1942. Since then Donegal County Council has taken over responsibility for all its public housing needs.

These two images are taken from Model Plans for labourers' cottages and would have been used on a national basis. Image 1 (above) is an extract from Model Plan D showing a cross section and end elevation, while Image 2 (left) is an extract from Model Plan G and this shows the front elevation of a two-storey dwelling and the ground floor plan. (CC/labs/38, CC/labs 61).


Labourers Cottage, Model Plan D - Copyright of Donegal County Archives Service. No reproduction without permission�

Labourers Cottage, Model Plan G - Copyright of Donegal County Archives Service. No reproduction without permission. �

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