User:Colin 68dots/PrefabSocial

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British post-war temporary prefab houses were the major part of the delivery plan envisaged by war-time Prime Minister Winston Churchill in March 1944, and legally outlined in the Housing (Temporary Accommodation) Act 1944, to address the United Kingdom's post–World War II housing shortage.

Taking the details of the public housing plan from the output of the Burt Committee formed in 1942, the Conservative Party's Churchill proposed to address the need for an anticipated 200,000 shortfall in post-war housing stock, by building 500,0000 prefabricated houses, with a planned life of up to 10 years within five years of the end of World War II. The eventual bill of state law, agreed under the post-war Labour Party government of Prime Minister Clement Attlee, agreed to deliver 300,000 units within 10 years, within a budget of £150m.

Through use of the wartime production facilities and creation of common standards developed by the Ministry of Works, the programme got off to a good start, but foundered through a combination of commercial rivalry, public concern, and pure cost. More expensive to build than conventional houses, the envisaged excess production capacity of materials was taken up at a quicker rate through Britain's post-war export drive to reduce her burgeoning war-debts.

In the end, of 1.2 million new houses built from 1945 to 1951 when the programme officially ended, only 156,623 prefab houses were constructed.[1][2] Today, a number survive, a testament to the durability of a series of housing designs and construction methods only envisaged to last 10 years. Social implications were not considered before embarking on this post-war housing, but both the prefab "estates" and their later demise had a profound social affect on family networks and their communities.


Context[edit]

The combined impact of war and a lack of commercial high street activity, creates many post-war shortages and resultant economic inflation, not the least of which is in housing stock. In post–World War II Britain, this was increased through the use by both sides of carpet bombing from great altitudes, which had a huge effect on both the number and quality of available housing stock. Estimates at the time suggest that the minimum shortage was some 200,000 houses nationally.[3] The result was the duplication of a strategy deployed by the post–World War I government of a country-wide investment programme in a national public house building scheme.

In envisaging the problem, Prime Minister Winston Churchill had set up the cross-party Burt Committee in 1942. They sent British engineers to the United States from late 1943, looking at how America - a world leader in prefab construction, thanks to its war focus - intended to address its needs for post-war housing.

The outcome of the Burt Committee was that it favoured prefabricated housing as a solution to the problems. In a radio broadcast in March 1944, as the War in Europe was concluding, Churchill announced a Temporary Housing Programme, known officially as the Emergency Factory Made or EFM housing programme. The vision was for a Ministry of Works (MoW) emergency project to build 500,000 ‘new technology’ prefabricated temporary houses directly at the end of the war:[3]

This vision and promise passed into law as the Housing (Temporary Accommodation) Act 1944, which planned to build 300,000 prefab houses in Britain over the next four years, with a structural lifetime of between 10 and 15 years. In fact just over 150,000 were built.[4]

However, rather than relying on private sector investment as in the United States, the new Labour Party government of Clement Attlee, having been part of a war government that deployed large and efficient production schemes to win the war, simply applied the same theory to this problem. The plan was also in part an economic solution, as it reduced the need for a post-war government laden with debt having to subsidise commercial operations, a problem avoided by simply encouraging them to work together to design and produce the paid-for solutions. The solution providers were hence already equipped for mass manufacture, and made capable of post-war transition through fulling a great economic need.

But the scale of the problem was highly under estimated. At the end of the war, it was found by survey that more than three million houses had been damaged by enemy bombing, almost a quarter of all homes in the country.[2] Most of the damaged stock was in London and the southeast, particularly in areas hit hard by Hitler's vengeance weapons. Although the building trade had taken a beating, with many of its skilled labourers killed whilst on duty as foot soldiers, the recovery in labour levels was boosted by high post-war unemployment. The envisaged shortages of basic building supplies did initially exist, but were quickly turned around: basic supplies of sand, gravel and clay to produce bricks and cement were natural resources within the geography of Great Britain, they just needed extracting.

By 1951, the EFM housing programme and its off-shots had added one million council houses, resulting in 15% of all the dwellings in Britain became publicly owned, more than the proportion in the communist Soviet Union at that time.[3]

Standards[edit]

The MoW created research institutes, standards and competition authorities that resulted in core building regulations. Although essential at the time to ensure quality, the way in which they were implemented from a regulatory view point defined and restricted the whole of the British construction industry, until the reforming non-centralist government of Margaret Thatcher some 35 years later.[3]

All approved prefab units had to have a minimum floor space size of 635 square feet (59.0 m2), and be a maximum of 7.5 feet (2.3 m) wide to allow for transportation by road.[2]

The most innovative creation of the MoW was what was termed the "service unit," something which the MoW initially specified all designs had to include. A service unit was a combined back-to-back prefabricated kitchen that backed onto a bathroom, pre-built in a factory to an agreed size. It meant that the unsightly water pipes, waste pipes and electrical distribution were all in the same place, and hence easy to install.

The service unit also contained a number of innovations for occupants. The house retained a coal-fire, but it contained a back boiler to create both central heating as well as a constant supply of hot water.[1] For a country used to the pleasures of the outside lavatory and tin bath, the bathroom included a flushing toilet and man-sized bath with hot running water. In the kitchen were housed such modern luxuries as a built-in oven, refrigerator and baxi water heater: items we now take for granted.

All prefabs under the housing act came pre-decorated in magnolia, with gloss-green on all additional wood, including the door trimmings and skirting boards.

Often very American is appearance and style, to speed construction many were developed on the side of municipal parks and green belts, giving their residents who had most often come from cramped shared rooms in inner cities, the feeling of living in the rural countryside.[5]

House types[edit]

When the Ministry of Works opened up the design competition, some 1400 designs were submitted. Reviewed the Building Research Station, many were rejected from the conceptual stage, such as the British Powerboat Company's proposal for the Jicwood all laminated plywood design;[6] while others were only dismissed after the prototype stage, such as the steel framed Riley.[7]

However, only a few were approved after testing for construction:

Prototype - Portal[edit]

The first prototype to be unveiled was the motor industry contribution, a steel panelled experimental temporary bungalow called the Portal after the minister of works, Lord Portal. With a floor area of 616 square feet (57.2 m2), and an estimated cost of £600 constructed, and £675 fully furnished.[8] It included a prefabricated slot-in kitchen and bathroom capsule, that included a pre-installed refrigerator. The proposed rent was 10 shillings a week for a life of ten years.

Airey[edit]

Developed by Leeds based construction magnate Sir Edwin Airey, it was easily recognisable by its precast concrete columns and walls of precast ship-lap concrete panels.[9] Due to its variation of design, available with a flat or pitched roof, and with variations for rural or urban sites; it became one of the most prolific of the permanent designs.[10]

Arcon[edit]

Developed and hence constructed by Taylor Woodrow, the Arcon was an asbestos-clad variant of the Portal, with the same prefabricated kitchen and bathroom capsule. It had a longer life, but also came with a higher cost of construction.[3] The later rolled top roofed Arcon Mk5 was developed by Edric Neel.[11] 38,859 were constructed through the programme.[12]

AIROH[edit]

The AIROH house (Aircraft Industries Research Organisation on Housing) was a 675 square feet (62.7 m2), ten tonne all-aluminium bungalow assembled from four sections, each to be delivered to the site on a lorry, fully furnished right down to the curtains. The proposed rate of production of complete houses was to be an incredible one every twelve minutes. This was possible because the completely equipped and furnished AIROH could be assembled from only 2,000 components, while the aircraft it would replace on the production line required 20,000. The parents of future Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock were allocated at AIROH, on which he commented:[3]

Although impressive, the AIROH by 1947 was costing £1,610 each to produce, plus costs of the land and installation. However, as the design was so easy to produce, 54,500 AIROHs were constructed.[13]

BISF[edit]

Original (right) and reconstructed (left) BISF type houses at Moss Road and Bardrainney Avenue, Port Gasgow

The British Iron and Steel Federation, an association of steel producers, was formed in 1934 in order to provide central planning for the industry. It was prominent in coordinating output through the War.

Post-war, BISF became key in the new housing programme. It sponsored a solution for a permanent steel framed housing to a design by architect Sir Frederick Gibberd, who also designed the Howard House.[14]

The BISF is of a conventional design, with simple architectural devices of projecting window surrounds encasing Crittall Hope windows,[4] and differing cladding to the upper and lower stories deal with the junction between components in an understated fashion. Traditional materials could be incorporated or simulated, for example a brick cladding to the lower storey, or steel sheet profiled to match timber weatherboarding to the upper. The BISF house also uses tried and tested methods, with a simple over-site slab ground floor and render on metal lath cladding.[14]

Produced by the British Steel Homes company, the BISF was a successful design in numerical terms, thanks to the backing of its trade sponsors, who could ensure a supply of steel. The BISF also benefited from a guaranteed order of 30,000 units given directly by the Government in 1941.[14]

Mortgages for BISF houses are available from a limited number of Lenders who now view such properties to have a similar lifespan to that of a traditional brick constructed house.

Cornish Unit[edit]

Designed by A E Beresford and R Tonkin for the Central Cornwall Concrete & Artificial Stone Co., they are also known as Cornish Type and Selleck Nicholls & Williams houses. The houses came in type1 and type2 designs, incorporating variations of a bungalow, two storey semi-detached and terraced layout with a medium pitched Mansard hipped roof.

The first floor is PRC clad over a single-storey concrete frame, while the type1 house has the Mansard roof over timber trusses. Internal walls are made of PC wall block or brick. So successful was the design, 30,000 Cornish Unit houses were eventually constructed.

However the roofs and wall insulation incorporated asbestos, while the wooden frame-based construction means that as the concrete decays the two parts tend to separate, resulting in large amounts of internal cracking. The major defects are:[15]

  • Horizontal and vertical cracking of PRC columns
  • High rates of carbonation and significant levels of chloride in PRC columns
  • Cracking of first floor ring beams

Hawksley[edit]

A W Hawksley Ltd of Hucclecote, were formed in 1940 by the Gloster Aircraft Company to build the Albermarle aircraft designed by Armstrong Whitworth. Post-WW2, the companies parent Hawker Siddeley kept it open to supply prefab houses and bungalows to the MoW. After their MoW work finished, they continued for a period exporting their buildings to Australia, New Zealand and Uruguay into the 1960s.[16] Their designs included:[17]

  • BL8 - an aluminium-clad timber-framed bungalow.[9]
  • C2/C3 - either a 3 bedroom bungalow, or convertible to a government building such as a Post Office or Doctors surgery
  • Hawksley House - a semi-detached or terraced house with 2-4 bedrooms based on the principles of the Swiss architect G Schindler
  • Hawkesley Single Storey building - a general purpose building suitable for schools, offices, hospitals and village halls

The company later developed an aluminium house for the Margaret MacMillan Memorial Fund, for use in tropical overseas relief missions.

Howard[edit]

Another designed by Sir Frederick Gibberd, the steel framed designed was privately promoted by John Howard & Company. A more industrial aesthetic design, and more adventurous in its use of innovative technologies. Asbestos cement cladding panels are clearly expressed with metal flashings over a base course of foamed slag concrete panels, with windows and doors fitting within the module set up by the cladding. Unlike the BISF this house proudly displays its lightweight prefab nature, but there are also technical advances that set the Howard House apart, for example the pre-cast concrete perimeter plinth that supports a suspended steel ground floor. Only 1,500 Howard Houses were built.[14]

Laing Easi-Form[edit]

Designed by Laing and Co., as they are poured in-situ into moulds type designs developed from 1919 onwards, they do not suffer the problems of many steel framed buildings. The rare Mk1 version had 8 inches (20 cm) thick solid no-fines clinker concrete walls, built in the period 1919 to 1928. The more common Mk2 version from 1925 to 1945 had cast in situ cavity walls, 3 inches (7.6 cm) thick inner and outer Ieaves with 2 inches (5.1 cm) cavity, usually finished externally with stone dashed render coat. Post 1945, The Mk3 version which make-up the majority of houses, was modified to specification, and hence had cast in situ concrete walls, inner and outer leaves of 3 inches (7.6 cm) thickness separated by a 2 inches (5.1 cm) cavity, and reinforcement in both skins located in four horizontal bands above and below window openings.[18]

Mowlem[edit]

Like the Laing Easi-Form, a cast in situ concrete form of construction, first used in 1952 but mainly in the period 1962 to 1981. With a solid cavity wall, the poured concrete substitutes for the inner blockwork walls of traditional housing. Solid wall types 225 millimetres (8.9 in) thick cast in lightweight concrete, rendered externally. Cavity wall types have an inner leaf of at least 100-125mm thick concrete.[18]

Orlit[edit]

Designed by Czech architect Erwin Katona, who left Czechoslovakia in 1938 to relocate to the UK, the design is a two-storey precast reinforced concrete design.[19] The design was produced in Scotland by the Orlit Co, resulting in most houses being located in Scotland.

On site construction was based on a foundation which supported pre-cast concrete columns at fixed intervals, supporting concrete beams fixed to the columns, resulting in a virtually a monolithic frame. Faced externally with large storey-high concrete slabs, and internally with interlocking foamslag blocks. Internal partitions are constructed of breeze blocks finished in plaster, as is the foamslag internal cladding. The floors are constructed of pre-cast concrete flooring units, with timber flooring on timber runners.[20]

Due to both the speed of construction and the quality of production, over time the PRC deteriorates, particularly at construction joints and junctions between components, with a gradual reduction in structural effectiveness. This resulted in the Orlit designated as defective under the Housing Defects Act 1984, and hence a majority of mortgage lenders will not give any form of mortgage on them.

Phoenix[edit]

GradeII listed Phoenix prefabs in Wake Green Road, Birmingham

The Phoenix, designed by Laing and built by themselves as well as partners McAlpine and Henry Boot,[2] it looked much like an AIROH with a central front door, but far less aesthetically pleasing. A 2bedroom in-situ preform design with steel frame, asbestos clad walls, and an innovative roof of tubular steel poles with steel panels attached. Like all designs, it came pre-painted in magnolia, with green highlights on frames and skirting.[21] Phoenix prefabs cost £1,200 each constructed onsite, while the specially insulated version designed for use on the Isle of Lewis in the Hebrides cost £2,000.[2]

Reema[edit]

Reema houses are built from large-scale (nominally single storey height) precast reinforced concrete panels, themselves made in factories, before construction is enabled onsite. Reema houses come in two forms:

  • Reema Conclad
  • Reema Hollow Panel

Due to structural degradation and the use of asbestos in the wall and roof insulation,[22] both are difficult to obtain a mortgage on today. The Reema Hollow Panel is listed universally as defective after a Government sponsored investigation and the subsequent Housing Defects Act 1984, while the Reema Conclad is often mis-recognised as a Hollow Panel.[23]

Swedish[edit]

Between September 1945 and March 1946, Sweden exported 5,000 prefabricated houses to England and 2,100 to France. The design was adapted by the MoW from a standard Swedish kit, with the all-timber houses arriving in flat sections, and then stored at the docks for allocation, often to rural areas in support of farm workers. The first of these houses were built at Abbots Langley, Hertfordshire, in January 1946.[24] The Swedish Government gifted 100 timber-framed houses to Scotland, which were erected in two locations in Edinburgh.[4]

Tarran[edit]

The Tarran was designed by building firm of Robert Greenwood Tarran of Hull. A wooden frame designed bungalow,[4] over clad with precast concrete panels. 19,014 Tarrans were erected under the Temporary Housing act, but one- and two-storey variants were built in some numbers afterwards.[25]

Uni-Seco[edit]

Produced by the London based Selection Engineering Company Ltd, the three versions of the Uni-Seco were largely erected in London and the southeast. A 2bedroom flat-roofed bungalow, it had a resin-bonded plywood timber-frame with asbestos wall sections,[26] it was based on a military wartime office design. With dimensions of 23 feet 6 inches (7.16 m) by 19 feet 7 inches (5.97 m),[27] the first two versions included the MoW standard kitchen/bathroom service unit, plus a lounge; Mk3's had a central entrance over the original side door.[28] Uni-Seco had appointed in 1943 the Czehzolvakian emigre George Fejer as an industrial designer, who on a part-time basis helped out with their kitchen design. Fejer later worked with Arthur Webb and George Nunn at Hygena to create the UK style of fitted kitchen, based on the principles of the Frankfurt kitchen.[29] Approximately 29,000 Uni-Seco units were constructed. The Excalibur estate in Catford, London Borough of Lewisham is the UK's largest residual estate of prefabs, presently consisting of 187 Uni-Seco bungalows.[30]

Unity structures[edit]

Unity Structures prefab, preserved at the Chiltern Open Air Museum

Unity Structures were a construction company based in Rickmansworth. Using a common storey-level precast reinforced concrete panels, they produced various updated versions of their bungalow and twin-storey house variations. Using metal bracing within the cavity and metal joists connected at column joints, the PRC columns act as mullions. Copper straps tie the inner panel to outer PRC panel on earlier variant, while later the copper strap fixed to column holding just outer PRC cladding panels.

Although the design incorporates significant steelwork resulting in fair current structural condition, the concrete used in casting is decaying, and resultantly leaks chlorides. This results in internal staining through panel joints, and corrosion of the metal reinforcing and straps.

A Unity structures bungalow originally located in Amersham is preserved at the Chiltern Open Air Museum.[31]

Wimpey no-fines[edit]

George Wimpey & Co. being a house builder, focused on both design but also speed and ease of construction. Their method used "no-fines" concrete, the composition of which used no fine aggregates. Using huge reuseable moulds, they were held in place as the concrete for the entire outer structure was poured in one operation. The ground floor was also concrete, while the first floor was made of wooden floorboards. Interior walls were a mixture of conventional brick and blockwork construction. Wimpey's design was particularly successful, resulting in many thousands built, and still occupied today.[18][32]

Other types[edit]

There are Hamish prefabs (types 1 and 2), the Duplex Sheath prefab, the Bricket Wood Special prefab, the Blackburn Orlit prefab, and even a pre-fabricated gem known as the Foamed Slag.

Programme[edit]

The MoW built a small estate off Edward Road, Northolt, in 1944 to demonstrate to the construction industry, parliament and the media that the principles of their standards, and show that houses and flats could be built of concrete as well as brick. The highlight of the show was the live construction over 2 days of a Sir Frederick Gibberd designed BISF, under the watchful 24-hour eyes of the media.[12]

The MoW then held a public exhibition of five types of prefab at the Tate Gallery in London, in 1944:[1]

  • Two timber framed designs, the Tarran and the Uni-Seco
  • One steel-framed with asbestos panels, the Arcon
  • One aluminium prefab, made from surplus aircraft materials, the AIROH

This proved so popular, that the Tate held two follow up exhibitions in 1945. In April 1945, in a public relations exercise, an Arcon was completed and handed over to its new occupants by 22 men in under eight hours, and in May an AIROH was erected on a bombed site in London’s Oxford Street in just four hours.[3]

While the cost of the prefabs was met directly by the MoW, the sites and utility infrastructure costs were the responsibility of the local authority. The 1944 Act had envisaged problems in obtaining access to sites quickly and hence slowing the programme, and so gave councils the authority to claim sites where two or more prefabs could be constructed. Councils were also given power over the site once identified, even before purchase was completed.[27] The programme delivered quick housing, with properties going up at the rate in some authorities at the rate of 1.75 units per site per day,[27] and the 100,000th house completed in January 1947 in Clapham, South London.[33]

However, the cost of the programme at £150m met with opposition at many levels, both politically and economically. In August 1945 the Portal was abandoned for lack of steel, while the Uni-Seco was effectively stopped from production from the middle of 1946 through lack of supply of wood.[27] It was stated that both the Arcon and AIROH were above budget: the British prefabs in both manufacture and construction costs combined turned out to be more costly than traditionally built brick houses,[34] while the American sourced units were cheaper. The population allocated prefabs were also concerned that prefabs were a permanent over a temporary solution, with the postwar radio comedy Stand Easy! with Charlie Chester's creating popular skit-chants on the subject, including:[4]

As the economy began to recover, the cost of the unwanted post-ware excess production reduced and hence costs of manufacture rose sharply. When the Chancellor allowed the pound to freely float against the dollar from 1947 onwards, a programme costing 60% of government income was severely cut back.[3]

Total production[edit]

Production of the major types for local authorities continued until 1947, but only 170,000 of the 500,000 units promised were completed by 1951, when Churchill's new Conservative government made a promise of 300,000 new houses in partnership with the private sector:[3]

Name Sponsor Designer Frame Walls Roof Bedrooms Units Cost of Construction[35] Notes
Airey Sponsor Designer Concrete (PP&P) Walls Roof Bedrooms 25,567 £???
AIROH Sponsor Designer Aluminium Aluminium or clad Aluminium or Asbestos 3 54,000 £1,610
Arcon Sponsor Designer Frame Walls Roof Bedrooms 46,000 £1,209
BISF BISF Sir Frederick Gibberd Steel Steel/Concrete Steel 3+ 31,516 £???
Cornish Unit Sponsor Designer Concrete (PP&P) Walls Roof Bedrooms 23,173 £???
Howard Sponsor Designer Frame Walls Roof 2+ 1,404 £???
Laing "Easiform" Laing Laing Concrete (LS) Concrete (LS) Clay Tile 2+ £???
Mowlem Mowlem Mowlem Concrete (LS) Concrete (LS) Clay Tile 2+ £???
Newland & Kingston Tarran Industries Designer Concrete (LS) Walls Roof 2+ 2,681 £1,022
Orlit Sponsor Designer Concrete (PP&P) Walls Roof Bedrooms 8,449 £???
Phoenix Laing Laing Frame Walls Steel plate over rolled steel poles 2 43,206 £1,200
Rema Sponsor Designer Concrete (LS) Walls Roof Bedrooms 7,067 £???
Scotswood Sponsor Designer Wood Walls Roof Bedrooms 1,067 £???
Smiths Building Systems Sponsor Designer Concrete (LS) Walls Roof Bedrooms 3,877 £???
Spooner Sponsor Designer Wood Walls Roof Bedrooms 3,507 £???
Stent Sponsor Designer Concrete (LS) Walls Roof Bedrooms 1,287 £???
Uni-Seco Sponsor Designer Frame Walls Roof Bedrooms 30,000 £1,131
Unity Structures Sponsor Designer Steel Walls Roof Bedrooms 13,701 £???
Wates Sponsor Designer Concrete (LS) Walls Roof Bedrooms 18,776 £???
Woolaway Sponsor Designer Concrete (PP&P) Walls Roof Bedrooms 4,845 £???
Wimpy "no fines" Wimpy Wimpy Concrete (LS) Concrete (LS) Clay tile 2+ 53,371 £???
All other steel frames Sponsor Designer Steel Walls Roof Bedrooms 4,890 £???
All other in-situ Sponsor Designer Steel Walls Roof Bedrooms 3,783 £???

NOTES:

  • LS - Precast Concrete, Large Slab
  • PP&P - Precast Concrete, Pier & Post

Residual housing stock today[edit]

The strength of the post-ware temporary prefab house - fast construction over an aluminium, steel or wooden frame - is today its weakness. The properties were only designed to last 10 years, and so some of the quality standards were not as high as they would have been should a longer life have been envisaged. Secondly, the quality of metal production then was not as good as it was now, but it should be remembered that in only the previous few years British manufacturing plants had become adapt at producing a consistently high quality product for the war effort, and so standards were consistent.

The quality of a steel framed prefab house, which can be suffering from rust, or a wooden house from rot, can be found in the footings of the structure where it meets the foundation slab. With checks undertaken by a qualified and certified housing surveyor, the structural integrity of the house can be quickly ascertained through exposure of the footings: if they are not rusty or rotted, the house is normally structurally sound.[36]

The second problem with non-refurbished houses is the use of asbestos in the original construction, particularly in the roof structure. Again, a qualified surveyor should be able to ascertain if asbestos is present, what type, and how to address its removal. There are a number of central and local government grants available for domestic asbestos removal which should cover most of the cost.

The third problem with the survival or prefabs in the 21st century is that of style. Never seen as aesthetically pleasing, the tight building regulations meant they also came with reasonable sized rooms and gardens. Modern house construction can create around 35 living spaces per acre, while often the prefabs will be sat on site layouts of less than 20. This, together with the age of the properties, makes redevelopment of mass prefab sites a distinct advantage to councils and housing associations. Hence, every year since 2000, the number of prefabs remaining has approximately halved.

Preservation[edit]

AIROH prefab preserved at the Museum of Welsh Life

Bristol has one of the largest remaining populations of prefab housing stock, and it also remains one of the most diverse. As a war time production centre for both aircraft, engines and explosives, it was easy to reach for Luftwaffe bombing, and hence had a large post-war need for new housing stock. There remain around 700 examples of Uni-Seco, Phoenix, Tarron and roll-topped Arcon MkV's. The stock diversity has resulted in English Heritage selecting 16 prefabs for Grade II listed building status.[11]

The Excalibur estate in Catford, London Borough of Lewisham is the UK's largest remaining estate of post-second world war prefab houses, with 187 Uni-Seco wooden frame bungalows plus a flat-roofed prefab church. While residents fought to save the entire 187-unit estate, English Heritage wanted to save 21 examples, and the council which still owns 80% of the properties wanted the ability to demolish the whole estate. In September 2009, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport agreed to GradeII list six of the least altered properties.[30] Similar debates have resulted in the listing of 16 Phoenix prefabs in Wake Green Road, Hall Green in Birmingham;[5] and two in Doncaster.[30]

Approximately six prefabs have been extracted from site for preservation, including one AIROH at the Museum of Welsh Life at St Fagans.[1] An Arcon Mark V from Yardley in Birmingham is now preserved at the Avoncroft Museum of Buildings.[5]

Post War Social Changes[edit]

Prefabs were the first embodiment of “housing estates” which created new communities of people who for the most part did not know one another before but who started new people networks that in recent times have been reconnected via the internet site “Friends Reunited”.

The prefabs on Wanstead Flats were part of London but had free access to open green space with lakes and sandhills and cows that grazed on the “common land” that was the “flats”. See detail citation at http://www.wansteadwildlife.org.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=94&Itemid=63 After the war, both East Ham and West Ham councils tried to gain some of the flats for buildings, but these were strongly opposed, particularly by the residents of the Aldersbrook estate. However, with the acute shortage of housing in the area after the war, temporary estates of pre-fabricated homes (prefabs) were erected. People were moving into these in 1946, and a typical rent was 18/- (about 90p) a week. Because of the layout, the streets were called "banjos". The largest "village" of these consisted of some 350 homes; these lay south of Alexandra Lake (known then as "the Sandhills", as now) and were accessed from Capel Road. The names of the roads were those WW2 military generals. These continued to be used until the beginning of the 1960's and were usually appreciated and well kept by those who lived in them and admired by those who visited.

The new communities held regular block parties in the summer, which were held with or without a major event such as the coronation of Queen Elizabeth in 1952. The fellowship and sense of optimism after the war built many new networks of people within primary and secondary schools which have been resurrected in recent years with the advent of “Friends Reunited”.

When families were forced to move out of the prefabs (late 50s and into 60s) these new social networks were broken and only those connections that were through other networks such as Scouts, Guides or work remained. Families had to move to new housing estates outside of London and start again to build new communities and social networks. The social impacts of these moves out of London to new housing estates is covered as part of the Open University course DD201 – Sociology and Society. See OU detail website for course - http://www3.open.ac.uk/study/undergraduate/course/dd201.htm

The OU course reference book “Understanding Everyday Life” Chapter 6.2 “Community, Everyday and Space” references a study performed in 1957 by Young and Willmott. Detail citation at http://www.infed.org/thinkers/peter_willmott.htm This is also covered at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Family_and_Kinship_in_East_London

The focus of the book is clearly set out in the opening paragraphs of the introduction: This book is about the effect of the newest upon one of the oldest of our social institutions. The new is the housing estate, hundreds of which have been build since the war.... The old institution is the family. It has been official policy to move people out of the cities; and we felt it would help in the assessment of this policy if more were known about its effect on family life (Young and Willmott 1962: 11)

There are continuing studies on Social network changes driven by the need for people to find jobs in today’s labour market and their relationships to the European Union and citizenship but it is recognised that what happened in the first “Prefab housing estates” was the start of the break up of family life as was known before the Second World War.

Recent studies on Social Movements - Citations :- Joseph Rowntree federation - Anne E Green and Richard J White 29 October 2007 http://www.jrf.org.uk/publications/attachment-place-social-networks-mobility-and-prospects-young-people

Job Mobility in the European Union: Optimising its Social and Economic Benefits Policy and Business Analysis April 2008 Danish Technological Institute ec.europa.eu/social/BlobServlet?docId=514&langId=en

Open University The Centre for Citizenship, Identities and Governance (CCIG) http://www.open.ac.uk/ccig/programmes/securities/contesting-borderzones-mobility-security-citizenship



References[edit]

  • Nicholas Bullock (2002-11-28). Building the Post-war World. Routledge. ISBN 041522179X.
  • Colin Davis (19 May 2005). The Prefabricated Home. Reaktion Books. ISBN 1861892438.
  • Greg Stevenson (2003-05-29). Palaces for the People: Prefabs in Post-war Britain. Batsford Ltd. ISBN 0713488239.
  • Brenda Vale (31 Aug 1995). Prefabs - The history of the UK Temporary Housing Programme. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 0-203-44959-2.
  • Harry Harrison; et al. (2004-10-20). Non-traditional houses - Identifying non-traditional houses in the UK 1918-75. BRE Press. ISBN 1860816975. Unknown parameter |http://www.brebookshop.com/details.jsp?id= ignored (help); Explicit use of et al. in: |author= (help)
  • Michael Young and Peter Willmott (2007-04-25). Family and Kinship in East London. Routledge. Text "ISBN 978-0140205954" ignored (help)

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d "A permanent home for a temporary house - the prefab at St Fagans". museumwales.ac.uk. Retrieved 2010-01-02.
  2. ^ a b c d e Sturgis, Matthew (2003-10-11). "The century makers: 1945". London: The Telegraph. Retrieved 2010-01-02.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i "A dose of morphine". Frieze magazine. Retrieved 2010-01-02.
  4. ^ a b c d e "Prefab Housing - 1940s". edinphoto.org.uk. Retrieved 2010-01-02.
  5. ^ a b c "Prefabs updated". Acocks Green Historical Society. Retrieved 2010-01-02.
  6. ^ David C. Goodman, Colin Chant. European cities & technology: industrial to post-industrial city. Routledge. Retrieved 2010-01-02.
  7. ^ "PREFABS - Factory homes for post-War England". english-heritage.org.uk. Retrieved 2010-01-02.
  8. ^ "Pre-fabricated Houses (Cost)". Hansard. 1945-01-31. Retrieved 2010-01-02.
  9. ^ a b 6172 - Investigation of Non-Traditional Concrete and Timber-Framed Properties - Structural Survey Report, South Cambridgeshire District Council [1]
  10. ^ "PREFABS - Factory homes for post-War England". english-heritage.org.uk. Retrieved 2010-01-02.
  11. ^ a b Gillilan, Lesley (2002-03-22). "The prefab four". London: The Telegraph. Retrieved 2010-01-02.
  12. ^ a b "PREFABS - Factory homes for post-War England". english-heritage.org.uk. Retrieved 2010-01-02.
  13. ^ Colin Davis. The Prefabricated Home. Retrieved July 24, 2010.
  14. ^ a b c d "BISF House". foursteelwalls.co.uk. Retrieved 2010-01-02.
  15. ^ "Cornish Unit". MBE Consultants. Retrieved July 23, 2010.
  16. ^ "Prefabricated Houses in Aluminium". Design Review: Volume 1, Issue 6. April/May 1949. Retrieved 2010-01-02. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  17. ^ "Archives of Leslie Philip Walter Spry, b 1914, of Gloucester". nationalarchives.gov.uk. Retrieved 2010-01-02.
  18. ^ a b c "Non Traditional Buildings". HI Resources. Retrieved 2011-01-03.
  19. ^ John Madge (12 Nov 2006). Tomorrow's Houses. Read Books. ISBN 1406734705.
  20. ^ "Orlit House, Balornock". theglasgowstory.com. Retrieved July 23, 2010.
  21. ^ http://styvechale.net/local_history/images/phoenix.htm
  22. ^ "Major payout for carpenter's widow". Swindon Advertiser. February 25, 2004. Retrieved July 23, 2010.
  23. ^ Edward Davey, MP (March 10, 2005). "REEMA CONCLAD AND REEMA HOLLOW PANEL CONSTRUCTION METHODS". UK Parliament. Retrieved July 23, 2010.
  24. ^ "PREFABS - Factory homes for post-War England". english-heritage.org.uk. Retrieved 2010-01-02.
  25. ^ "PREFABS - Factory homes for post-War England". english-heritage.org.uk. Retrieved 2010-01-02.
  26. ^ "More than just four walls and a roof: Bishopsfield Estate, Harlow and Excalibur Estate prefabs". 20th Century Society. January 2009. Retrieved 2010-01-02.
  27. ^ a b c d Hermione Hobhouse (1994). "Survey of London - volumes 43 and 44". English Heritage. Retrieved 2010-01-02.
  28. ^ "Excalibur Prefab Estate Catford". Jim Blackender. Retrieved 2010-01-02.
  29. ^ Judith Freeman. The fitted kitchen: a piece of twentieth-century English cultural history. Berg. Retrieved 2010-01-02.
  30. ^ a b c Walker, Peter (2009-03-17). "Safe as prefabs – Grade II listing preserves second world war relics". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2010-01-02.
  31. ^ "Unity Structures Mk3 prefab". Chiltern Open Air Museum. Retrieved 2010-01-02.
  32. ^ No fines concrete defined at the Concrete Centre
  33. ^ "PREFABS - Factory homes for post-War England". english-heritage.org.uk. January 1947. Retrieved 2010-01-02.
  34. ^ "Wartime prefab makes a comeback as an icon of our cultural heritage". London: The Independent. 2002-08-24. Retrieved 2010-01-02.
  35. ^ Greg Stevenson (2003-05-29). Palaces for the People: Prefabs in Post-war Britain. Ministry of Works figures from Birmingham Council, December 1947. Batsford Ltd. ISBN 0713488239.
  36. ^ "History of the BISF House". fullerandsons.co.uk. Retrieved 2010-01-02.

External links[edit]

Audio/visual[edit]

Category:Public housing in the United Kingdom]] Category:House types in the United Kingdom]]