Sunday, 16 January 2011

Pre Fab's not so Fab no more...

I know that we have to move on. I know that we need more housing. I know that they are out of date and that they are, well, shacks, by today's standard's.

But, to me, they have become a part of our cultural history. A testament that when you are beaten, bombed and bedraggled, you can make a home out of wood and install it with a heated towel rail and a gas oven, with hob, on which to make your tea.


I am aware that this type of house building has become popular again, but is a lot more "health and safety" passable. And warm I am sure. Relatives of mine have attested to the chilliness of such structures. Not in a whinging way. In a "you-needed-2-duvets-socks-and-a-jumper-and-a-hat" kind of way. But it was always said with affection.


Although they had been around for an age, long before they became a staple in the cities across the UK after Luftwaffe had done their best, mainly for the housing of military personnel. It was only after WW2 that they were marketed to families.


And, by all accounts, people were incredibly proud of their little patch. They made them as lovely as they could. Lest we forget, we are a nation who had a penchant for decorating our Andersen Shelters. Nothing a marigold in bloom can't brighten, eh?


But, now it would seem that it is time to relegate this stalwart of roof and walls, carpets and picture frames, gardens and bathtubs - home -  to the consignments of history. There are some that I am sure shall remain inhabited, not be bull dosed from memory and their residents moved on.

However, the majority are set to be flattened and the land re-used, if they have not already. Museum pieces - such as The Universal House at Chiltern Open Air Museum - shall still be around, so they shall not be completely lost.


Alas, for the Excalibur Estate in South East London, it seems sure to be the end of the "temporary" pre-fab solution. Such a shame, especially when you see the people who live there now and read how they feel about the place they call home.

So, a salute to the pre-fab's and the shelter they provided for those in need, whether that was for 65 days or 65 years.

14 comments:

  1. It is right that they retain some for historical purposes. It's a shame that the people that live there don't want the redevelopment. I am guessing they are expensive to maintain and a legal liability so it's cheaper for the council to get rid. I vaguely remember my mum pointing out some prefabs to me when I was a child. I will have to get his Lordship to take me over there to have a look before the bulldozers move in!

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  2. How sad, especially for folk who have lived there most of thier lives. There's one down the road from me, and what a garden it's got! Where are the council going to accomodate the residents? they surely can't just leave them homeless?

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  3. LC - yes.. I am guessing the same. They are no longer maintainable perhaps? But, then again, they have been standing for 65 years so far.

    Gem - who know's. Perhaps temporary housing and then a new pad back where they used to live?

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  4. A friend of a friend still lives in one...They should be saved where possible so many people have good memories in them.

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  5. To me this is awful! I want one myself, but I'm thinking it may not be big enough to house all my clutter! Oh, I would make it fit! Luckily there are a few in museums, Avoncroft, Eden Camp…. And I think (?) there’s an estate of them that’s been given a grade listing- well, I don’t think I’m making this up! I really do think it’s time for my ‘Prefabs of Great Britain’ Series! Tups x

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  6. My great grandparents lived in a prefab. The pre fab estate near to the one I lived on has only recently been modernised....bungalows have replaced them, but all the residents fought against it! I had lots of friends who grew up in them and loved them.x

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  7. I stayed in a pre-fab which is hired out as self catering in Newquay. It was woolly-socks-indoors (I satued in March) but it was comfy and compact. Re-use as holiday homes is such a good recycling idea, they are ideal!

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  8. That is a real shame, they should be protected.

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  9. Thanks for bringing this to my attention, so very interesting. I was amazed when I did a bit of digging to find we live only a few miles away. This really does not surprise me, Lewisham Council are absolutely the pits. I will go and take a look soon. I have just had a look at the website for the estate and 6 houses were successfully listed, even though they applied for 21 to be listed. This is such a shame, we will never get this important history back.
    Hen x

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  10. I love that museum and the prefab was my favourite bit x

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  11. My Mum lived in one with her parents and sister in South East London from 1947 till her wedding day in 1966. They LOVED it. There were strict rules about who qualified for one, such as you couldn't have more than 2 children. They got one as her sister had a leg amputated at the age of 9 months and so they needed a house with no stairs. No-one else they knew had an indoor toilet & bathroom at that time, let alone a fridge! My Grandad was proud of his garden too.

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  12. What lovely photos and what a great museum. In will definitely check that one out

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  13. I used to live near the pre-fabs in Lambeth (near St Thomas's Hospital) in the early 80's. they were always well maintained & and the gardens cheerful.... I suspect they are long gone now...Lizzie x
    Thank you for your visit to my blog.. love yours!!

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  14. Hey BL - thanks for stopping by!

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