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Thread: Prefabs, Park Lane, 1971

  1. #1
    Senior Member Colin Wilkinson's Avatar
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    Default Prefabs, Park Lane, 1971

    In my previous post, I illustrated how much the left hand side of Park Lane had changed since the early 1970s. I have no photographic record of what was on the other side of the road before enemy bombing destroyed much of it. However, the photograph above shows a housing initiative that has been largely forgotten – the prefabs. The style shown was widely adopted in the aftermath of bombing as a quick fix to provide short-term housing. Over 160,000 were built throughout Britain, with the largest estate in the country at Belle Vale in Liverpool. Over 1,100 were built and their destruction in the 1960s was against a background of opposition from tenants who were happily settled in their estate.
    These prefabs were not expected to provide a long-term housing solution. Quickly erected, they were aimed at families, and typically had an entrance hall, two bedrooms (parents and children), a bathroom, a separate toilet, a living room and an equipped kitchen. Construction materials included steel, aluminium, timber or asbestos, depending on the type of dwelling. The aluminium Type B2 prefab was produced as four pre-assembled sections which could be transported by lorry anywhere in the country.
    Liverpool had, in fact, pioneered an earlier form of prefab. The concrete panels invented by City Engineer for Eldon Street flats (see my earlier post) at the turn of the twentieth century, never took off because of union objections (although the idea was used across Europe). Some 50 years later, the basic principle of prefabricated panels (now called the Camus system) was imported from France for use in Liverpool’s high-rise flats.
    There has been a revival of interest in prefabs and kit houses, although it has not gained any real momentum. This is surprising in the face of the acknowledged housing problem. Surely quickly erected, low-cost houses which can last for 30+ years would be preferable to the ghastly and costly mistakes in public housing which have been made since the 1960s. After all, most of those initiatives have had a very short shelf-life too.



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    Came fourth...now what? Oudeis's Avatar
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    Dolly Town, was the name of the largest estate of Prefabs I knew in Rosyth, near the dockyard, but I did squat in one in London in the late seventies, we 'celebrated' the royal wedding/day off there.
    They were very cosy;glass-doored fire with back boiler and a bit of garden front and back.

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    Senior Member Waterways's Avatar
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    The prefabs shown are the early 1960s design -some were in London until the 1980s. None in Liverpool lasted after 1979. The original 1945 prefabs were built in Canada and brought over in sections. They contained insulation and partially fitted kitchens with an integrated gas fridge - unheard of in the UK. It was like space age to working class people.

    Many of Canadian designs still remain. Many have been transformed by running bricks up the outside and pitched tiled roofs added. They were originally designed to last 10 years but most lasted 20 because of demolition, and could have gone on to 100. I believe some had a high level of asbestos content.

    A 1945 design
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