Prefab Housing built by PoW's after the Blitz

Discussion in 'United Kingdom' started by Drew5233, Nov 9, 2008.

  1. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    This estate is just around the corner from where I grew up in London and was a rabbit warren of alleys that made it a great estate to play on as a child.

    It was built by German and Italian prisoners of war in 1946.

    And residents moving into the quickly-built timber-panel homes in the Excalibur Estate were warned that their new homes would probably stand for little more than a decade.
    But 62 years on and the prefab estate is set to be given a Grade II listing by the Culture Minister, Margaret Hodge.


    [​IMG]
    Grade II: 62 years on and the Catford prefab estate is set to be heritage listed

    The official announcement is expected in the next few weeks.

    The department claims that the case for listing the estate in Catford, an area of south-east London that was hit hard by Blitz bombing, is 'compelling'.
    If the government goes ahead with the move it will mean that Excalibur will join a small list of prefabs which have received such status.
    Each of the 187 prefabricated homes - and its rare, tin-roofed church - were built in a bid to fix the crippling post war housing shortages.
    One resident, Eddie O'Mahony is still living there after moving in during the summer of 1946.

    [​IMG]
    National treasure: A timber-panelled, tin-roofed home in the Excalibur Estate
    [​IMG]
    Historic: How the estate looked in the 1960s - long after it was expected to last

    'I wouldn't swap it for Buckingham palace. Even if they included the Queen,' he told the Guardian.
    After the Second World War, 150,000 'palaces for the people' as prefabs were called became synonymous not only with comfort and luxury but also with freedom.
    Prefabs were popular after the war because they were relatively cheap to make and were easy to build as well as being much-needed following the wholesale bombing of parts of the country during World War Two.
    They proved popular as they were the first buildings that many had lived in with an inside toilet.

    [​IMG]
    Threat: Council chiefs want to demolish the houses in Catford, south-east London



    [​IMG]
    Style: This house has been designed to look like a Tudor era home

    The government at the time was so proud of the idea it staged an exhibition of the first prototype at the Tate Gallery in London in 1944 before commissioning private firms to produce their own models.
    Over the years, Lewisham Council has tried to develop the site many times and a recent review found that none of the dwellings met Decent Homes Standard.
    The estimated cost for refurbishment was a staggering £8.4 million, required over the next 30 years to deal with catch up repairs, future programme renewals, improvements, contingent major repairs, related assets and the removal of asbestos.
    Their non-traditional construction meant they would require extensive structural work to over-clad the properties to improve thermal insulation and extend the life of the properties.
    Even as Hodge ponders the listing, Lewisham Council, which owns 80 per cent of the Catford prefabs, will go ahead balloting residents over a demolition proposal.
    Not all tenants have such a romantic view of their unorthodox homes and will vote to flatten the estate so they can be moved into modern housing.

    [​IMG]
    Cosy: One resident said he wouldn't swap his prefab for Buckingham Palace
    Thanks to the Daily Mail for the story
     
    Buteman likes this.
  2. Buteman

    Buteman 336/102 LAA Regiment (7 Lincolns), RA

    Drew

    That's another great set of memories you've given me today. One of my best friends at school lived in one of these prefabs in Lordship Lane in Dulwich. I always remembered that they were very cosy.

    Cheers - Robert.
     
  3. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    This Thread was a blast from the past.

    I seem to remember that Prefabs were built also to house many people, not necessarily due to people whose houses were damaged or destroyed by bombing.

    As I remember the so called short term Prefab houses lasted for many years with lots of local authorities.

    My old school had Prefab classrooms and canteen and I remember that they were not warm in winter!

    Regards

    Tom
     
  4. airborne medic

    airborne medic Very Senior Member

    As well as Catford I remember a lot of prefabs in Nunhead in the 1970's we used to pass them went sent 'around the block' as part of a PE lesson.......probably wouldn't be allowed today in case someone got abducted.....anyway at my school it was a bit strange....at assembly most mornings the headmaster would annouce.....PUNISHMENTS....the following boys will come and beat me in my study after school.....no surprise then after I'd left when he appeared on 'Crimewatch'.......for all the wrong reasons.....been found murdered in his flat......
     
  5. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    This estate is just around the corner from where I grew up in London and was a rabbit warren of alleys that made it a great estate to play on as a child.

    It was built by German and Italian prisoners of war in 1946.

    And residents moving into the quickly-built timber-panel homes in the Excalibur Estate were warned that their new homes would probably stand for little more than a decade.
    But 62 years on and the prefab estate is set to be given a Grade II listing by the Culture Minister, Margaret Hodge.


    [​IMG]
    Grade II: 62 years on and the Catford prefab estate is set to be heritage listed

    The official announcement is expected in the next few weeks.

    The department claims that the case for listing the estate in Catford, an area of south-east London that was hit hard by Blitz bombing, is 'compelling'.
    If the government goes ahead with the move it will mean that Excalibur will join a small list of prefabs which have received such status.
    Each of the 187 prefabricated homes - and its rare, tin-roofed church - were built in a bid to fix the crippling post war housing shortages.
    One resident, Eddie O'Mahony is still living there after moving in during the summer of 1946.

    [​IMG]
    National treasure: A timber-panelled, tin-roofed home in the Excalibur Estate
    [​IMG]
    Historic: How the estate looked in the 1960s - long after it was expected to last

    'I wouldn't swap it for Buckingham palace. Even if they included the Queen,' he told the Guardian.
    After the Second World War, 150,000 'palaces for the people' as prefabs were called became synonymous not only with comfort and luxury but also with freedom.
    Prefabs were popular after the war because they were relatively cheap to make and were easy to build as well as being much-needed following the wholesale bombing of parts of the country during World War Two.
    They proved popular as they were the first buildings that many had lived in with an inside toilet.

    [​IMG]
    Threat: Council chiefs want to demolish the houses in Catford, south-east London



    [​IMG]
    Style: This house has been designed to look like a Tudor era home

    The government at the time was so proud of the idea it staged an exhibition of the first prototype at the Tate Gallery in London in 1944 before commissioning private firms to produce their own models.
    Over the years, Lewisham Council has tried to develop the site many times and a recent review found that none of the dwellings met Decent Homes Standard.
    The estimated cost for refurbishment was a staggering £8.4 million, required over the next 30 years to deal with catch up repairs, future programme renewals, improvements, contingent major repairs, related assets and the removal of asbestos.
    Their non-traditional construction meant they would require extensive structural work to over-clad the properties to improve thermal insulation and extend the life of the properties.
    Even as Hodge ponders the listing, Lewisham Council, which owns 80 per cent of the Catford prefabs, will go ahead balloting residents over a demolition proposal.
    Not all tenants have such a romantic view of their unorthodox homes and will vote to flatten the estate so they can be moved into modern housing.

    [​IMG]
    Cosy: One resident said he wouldn't swap his prefab for Buckingham Palace
    Thanks to the Daily Mail for the story

    Looks like I'm a bit ahead of the One Show on current affairs :lol:

    An excellent article on the Prefabs in Lewisham tonight on the one show. It was all about Lewisham Council tring to re house the tennants and their fight to stop their homes from being demolished. My heart really went out to the WW2 Vet who moved into it when he came home from the war.

    If you missed it I'm sure the article will be online at the BBC.
     
  6. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

    Andy saw that

    you have to see it for the WW2 vet
    The photo on the sideboard said it all
     
  7. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Andy saw that

    you have to see it for the WW2 vet
    The photo on the sideboard said it all

    Indeed
     
  8. patwilson4

    patwilson4 Junior Member

    I was born in 1946 and lived in a prefab in High Cross Road Tottenham until 1957 when we were relocated to a "proper" house in Potters Bar. Our prefab had two bedrooms, a living room, kitchen and a bathroom, something that none of my friends were lucky enough to have , the kitchen had a fridge and cooker with a table that folded into the wall to give extra space when it wasn't in use. With a garden wrapped right around the prefab there was lots of room to play with my brother and sisters.

    The prefab is long gone now and a road, Monument Way, passes over the spot where it once stood,

    Great memories brought back by these wonderful photographs.
     
  9. Bradlad

    Bradlad Senior Member

    It's a crying shame that the Excalibur estate has been demolished, I was lucky enough to visit early last year so saw it whilst residents were still living there.

    Seeing the odd prefab relocated to a museum just isn't going to be the same.
     
  10. patwilson4

    patwilson4 Junior Member

    [​IMG]
     
    dbf likes this.
  11. At Home Dad (Returning)

    At Home Dad (Returning) Well-Known Member

  12. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

    The research organisation known as Arcon developed designs for prefabricated housing, which was much in demand after World War II. The Arcon Mark V became the standard Ministry of Works house type. Its steel frame was designed by Ove Arup, with other engineers contributing to other aspects.
    Towards the end of World War II, in response to a severe shortage of housing in the UK's war-torn towns and cities, the Ministry of Works sought designs for factory-produced prefabricated housing that could be delivered and erected quickly in any location. By the summer of 1944, bombing had rendered homeless half a million citizens in London alone.


    Engineering Timelines - Arcon prefabricated housing, exhibition site of

    Engineering Timelines
     
  13. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

  14. Robert-w

    Robert-w Banned

    The prefab concept existed well before WW2 The oldest prefab building still standing is probably the Tenbury Wells Pump and Reading room of 1862. It was still used to bath evacuee children in WW2. Now refurbished it acts as a local meeting room. It is
    grade II listed.
    Tenbury Wells, Worcestershire | Discover Britain’s Towns
    The greatest prefab of them all was of course The Crystal Palace.
    Germany tried to introduce prefabs to rehouse people bombed out in the German cities and a factory was established in the Lodz Ghetto to manufacture components but the German rail network was already too degraded for effective distribution.
    There was a lot of snobbery about the prefabs post war but I remember visiting one in the 50s and.although small, the kitchen for example was far better equipped than ours in a 1930s house in a middle class suburb.
     

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