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Our history and heritage

Take a journey into Places for People’s past. Our history and heritage bring meaning to our mission to be a force for good and to change lives by creating and supporting thriving Communities. Knowing where we come from inspires our vision for the future. Because Community Matters.

Where we began

North British Housing (NBH) was formed in Preston, Lancashire, in 1965 and then NBH became Places for People. That’s not when our story began though and our mission ‘to be a force for good’ coined by NBH’s founder John Foulerton stretches back through previous centuries.

Over many, many years, the organisation that we are now - Places for People - has grown in England and Scotland, from Edinburgh to Portsmouth, from Bristol to Norwich, and all points in between, merging with other housing associations, bringing new organisations into our family, and entering new sectors, but always being true to our purpose to create and support thriving Communities, to become what we are today, the UK’s leading social enterprise.

A black and white aerial shot of the Smith's Dock area in North Shields

Our history brought to life

We can actually trace a part of our estate to 1536, when the forerunner to one of our leisure centres was built on land once owned by William the Conqueror.

Throughout the centuries that followed, vast swathes of our estate sprang up in response to the seismic social change brought about by major historic events, from the Industrial Revolution to two World Wars. The subsequent chapters of our story chart our formation into the UK’s leading social enterprise.   

Use the arrows to scroll through our timeline below.  

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Hundreds of years of heritage  

Although we formed in 1965, the history of our properties and Communities stretches back centuries. Our oldest property, Dymock’s Building in Falkirk, was built in the 1650s, while Court Garden Leisure Centre in Marlow stands on the site of a pleasure park owned by William the Conqueror! We are committed to preserving and celebrating this history so that our Customers and wider Community feel connected to it. We are not simply interested in bricks and mortar, but the human stories within them, honouring this legacy as we develop and progress. 

History is at the heart of Community, shaping local identity, culture and values. Only by understanding the history of our estate, entities and Communities can we fulfil our aim of creating and supporting thriving places to live. 

Reimagining the past for a brighter future 

Thanks to mergers with organisations that share our social purpose, such as Bristol Churches Housing Association and Castle Rock Edinvar, Places for People’s heritage is celebrated across the UK. At our Engine Yard development in Edinburgh, we have transformed the former tram yard into a Community of mixed-tenure homes, while marking its significance to Scotland’s industrial past. Meanwhile, in East London, our Eastwick and Sweetwater development celebrates the site’s history as a confectionery manufacturer, and its later role in the 2012 London Olympics.  

As we look to the future, we want to maintain the same commitment to Community and believe that understanding, honouring and celebrating our history is essential to fulfilling that mission.  

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Insights from our CEOs past and present 

Reflecting on our past is an opportunity to shine a light on the People who have helped fulfil our mission of ‘being a force for good’. Like former CEO Eric Armitage, who shares the same passion for creating and supporting thriving Communities as our current Group CEO Greg Reed. 

Our Because Community Matters Awards event was the perfect time for the two to finally meet. Watch the video to hear their insights into what makes Places for People – and our purpose – so unique. 

Read our full history and heritage

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Tell us your story

The personal testimonies of our Customers, People and partners all help to tell our collective story. We’d love to hear your own recollections of Places for People, whether you’ve lived in one of our properties, worked alongside our teams or simply have a special memory you’d like to share.