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Twentieth Century


The ending of the First World War brought a new optimism and idealism to Dartford. Efforts were made to improve the quality of life in the town. An ambitious scheme to develop the centre of Dartford resulted (in 1926) in the creation of tree-lined Market Street with its fine view of Central Park and the new War Memorial. By 1922, the town bridge had been widened, and work began on the construction of the road that would later become the A2. A programme of house building commenced with the construction of the Lowfield Estate (later known as the Tree Estate).

Local industries attempted to settle back into the routine of normal production.
Large numbers of soldiers returned from the war looking for work. Many of these heroes found that their jobs had not been kept open for them. Local industries had changed significantly during 1914-18 and the old traditional skills were not always appropriate to new methods of production or new products. A long cycle of depression started in 1920, culminating in the General Strike of 1926, the great economic crash of 1929-31, and the depression of the 1930s.

Life in Dartford in the 1920s was nowhere near as bad as it was in the industrial north of England. There was a considerable amount of unemployment locally, but there were also signs of prosperity as new roads were constructed and private housing estates developed. The town's new private housing developments attracted lower middle-class families, as well as white collar workers who commuted to London daily to work. As the town grew, so did the town's infrastructure of shops, houses, roads and transport. By the late 1920s the car was beginning to become a possibility for middle-class families, but was still a total improbability for almost all Dartford's working-class families. The 1920s saw the development of mass culture. People of all classes could enjoy reading periodicals and newspapers; cinemas; dance-halls; and the wireless. Dartford's shops were at last able to sell fashionable clothes influenced by Hollywood films.

Next topic: Dartford in the 1930s


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