Friday, 27 March 2009

The first 'Prefab' in the country

I was talking to one of our neighbours the other day, and she mentioned in passing that we live next to the site of the first Prefabricated House in the country. At first I didn't know whether to believe her... But I've been doing some digging (not literally, this isn't Time Team) and it appears that this is indeed the case! Here's a photo of it before it was demolished.
It was an AIROH house, made of aluminium salvaged from crashed aircraft and melted down, and built by B.A.C. at their Weston-super-Mare factory.
According to our local history website: 'The very first prefab to be erected and occupied in the whole of Britain was No 125 Nibley Road, Shirehampton, which was officially opened on 18 July 1945 (only ten weeks after V.E.Day) by the Lord Mayor of Bristol (Councillor W. F. Cottrell). General Sir Frederick Pile (Minister of Works) came down from London to witness this important event, and Mr W. R. Verdon Smith (Director of B.A.C.) handed the key to the Lord Mayor. Mr Churchill had visited Filton in April 1945 to see the Airoh houses being built. They were most modern in every way, with central heating, up to date kitchens, built-in cupboards, and airing cupboard, and they even had a fridge, something unheard of in those far off days. The rent was fixed for 14/- or 15/- (70p or 75p) per week. The Airoh Houses were given a ten year tenure, but they formed the foundations of many happy homes.'

1 comment:

Catriona said...

As a child I recall several sets of pre-fabs in the village (just outside Northampton) where I lived. Whilst most were demolished, a whole area of them were effectively bricked over to make them into rather smart detached bungalows in the 1980s because those who lived in them loved them so much.

Interestingly something similar happened around the turn of the century with Northampton's two tower blocks. The council wanted to demolish them and move all the people to houses. The residents were up in arms as they loved their community so much. Amazingly, the towers were refurbished inside and out continue to be home to these people.

Just sometimes new and shiny is not the answer, and just sometimes councils get it right in mysterious ways!