prefab floorplan

Floor plan of a prefabricated bungalow.

portal plan

Floor plan of a pressed steel bungalow with side entrance – forerunner of the Uni-Seco Mk 3 floor plan

Prefabs were spacious and well designed with modern conveniences; a fitted kitchen with refrigerator, cooker and water boiler, fitted cupboards in every room, indoor toilet and bathroom with heated towel rail, running hot water, a back boiler and ducted warm air heating. Often sited on spacious plots of land these detached bungalows provided space to grow vegetables and flowers, and for children to play.

Please visit our History page to find out how the Burt Committee viewed prefabs and prefabrication as the solution to the housing crisis, and listen to an extract of Churchill’s famous speech read by Neil Titley, actor.

 

Floor plan of the Arcon MkV

Floor plan of the Arcon MkV (thanks to Susan Wright, daughter of the Arcon designer Jack Howe)

 

Prefabs were built round a central core, or service unit, supplying utilities to the kitchen, toilet and bathroom, designed by the Ministry of Works. For many people the modern conveniences and spacious design of the prefab was a huge leap in quality of life. Prefabs did not look like inter-war British houses, but more like American houses, so many thought they were American in design. Some American prefabs were imported, but most were British designed and built. The Burt Committee visited the Tennessee Valley Authority, and drew inspiration from the temporary towns set up to house workers and their families employed in the hydro-electric dam projects.

 

Thanks to Charles Horsey who pointed us towards a discussion forum where you can view GPO instructions for 11 types of prefabs! http://www.rmweb.co.uk/community/index.php?/topic/120128-council-houses/page-2

Was there a downside to prefab living? Prefabs were not well insulated, at least compared with modern standards. Former residents report that some were very cold in the winter and hot in summer, and metal window frames could cause condensation. However this was as true for some traditionally built houses as prefabs at the time.

Interiors

Living room, Universal prefab (Chiltern Open Air Museum)

Living room, Universal prefab (Chiltern Open Air Museum)

Living room, Universal prefab (Chiltern Open Air Museum)

Kitchen, Universal prefab (Chiltern Open Air Museum)

Prefab kitchen

Prefab kitchen

Prefab fitted kitchens were a marvel of modernity. They were a development of from the Frankfurt kitchen of 1926, designed by Margaret Schutte-Lihotsky.

 

 

 

 

Prefab bungalow types

AIROH all aluminium prefabricated bungalow (St Fagans Museum, Cardiff)

AIROH B2 aluminium alloy prefabricated bungalow (St Fagans Museum, Cardiff)

Arcon MkV steel framed prefabricated bungalow (Avoncroft Museum, Bromsgrove)

Arcon MkV steel framed prefabricated bungalow (Avoncroft Museum, Bromsgrove)

 Uni-Seco Mk2 timber framed prefabricated bungalow. (Excalibur Estate, Catford, London)

Uni-Seco Mk3 timber framed prefabricated bungalow. (Excalibur Estate, Catford, London)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tarran timber framed prefabricated bungalow, North Derbyshire 

Tarran timber framed prefabricated bungalow, North Derbyshire

 

There were four main types of temporary bungalows manufactured in great numbers in the UK after the war – the Arcon (steel frame), Uni-Seco, Tarran (both timber framed) and the aluminium alloy AIROH B2 which was manufactured from recycled aircraft. Other types like the Universal and Phoenix were produced in smaller numbers. You can read about Uni-Seco on our guest blog post. Some manufacturers involved in prefabs production: Turner and Newall (asbestos cement), Fisher and Ludlow (service units), Stewarts and Lloyds (tubular steel for Arcon roof), Crittall (windows), Williams and Williams (steel framework for the walls) Darlington & Simpson Rolling Mills (steel), Pressed Steel Company (Portal house), Briggs (steel tubes).

 

Universal prefab bungalow

Universal prefab bungalow (Chiltern Open Air Museum)

Phoenix Grade II listed prefabs, Wake Green Road, Birmingham

Phoenix Grade II listed prefabs, Wake Green Road, Birmingham

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Permanent prefabs – bungalows and two storey houses

Hawksley BL8 aluminium semi-detached bungalow, Cambridgeshire

Hawksley BL8 aluminium semi-detached bungalow, Cambridgeshire

Airey house, Cambridgeshire

Airey house, Cambridgeshire

Permanent prefabs were designed and constructed, including two storey houses like BISF (British Iron and Steel Federation), Orlit and Airey.

You can read about AW Hawksley, who produced the BL8 aluminium bungalows, on our guest blog post.  There is a website The BISF house, which is a mine of information!

 

 

 

Imported prefabs

American UK100 prefab

American UK100 prefab

Swedish timber dormer bungalow, semi-detached, Cambridgeshire

Swedish timber dormer bungalow, semi-detached, Cambridgeshire

Prefabs were imported from the USA and Sweden. We don’t know of any lived in examples of American prefabs in the UK, but there are some still inhabited in Normandy and Brittany in. There are many UK examples of Swedish houses still up and lived in – see our guest blog post. If you can help Neil with new locations he would be grateful!

 

 

 

 Photos Elisabeth Blanchet/Jane Hearn

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