This film is part of Free

Fair Rent

Power cuts, housing shortages and exorbitant rents – Aberdeen man Norrie Williamson goes head to head with his greedy landlady

Documentary 1947 11 mins


In the face of housing shortages and exorbitant rents, the post-WWII Labour government set up rent appeal tribunals across the country whose role was to impose fair rents for tenants. Shot in the Footdee and Castle Terrace districts of Aberdeen, the film revolves around the actual case of a dental mechanic, Norrie Williamson, who despairs when, out of the blue, his landlady hikes the rent. Norrie wants to appeal to the tribunal to reduce his rent but his wife fears it will result in their eviction.

Made with the co-operation of the Aberdeen Rent Tribunal, its Chairman Mr R. S. Aitkey plays himself in the film. Local involvement also came from another Aberdeen resident, Mr Norman Mitchell, who appears as a member of the tribunal, while Mr R. A. Livingstone, a former clerk to the tribunal, takes on that role. Director Mary Beale was a founding member of the Documentary and Technicians Alliance, Britain's first film co-operative, and the producer of this film. Beale made several fascinating films that vividly capture the post-war spirit, including Dover Spring (1947), also available on BFI Player. This government film is a public record, preserved and presented by the BFI National Archive on behalf of The National Archives, home to more than 1,000 years of British history.