Mystery prefabs - can you help us locate them from this list?

Can you help solve these prefab mysteries?

The map has been re-launched, and there are still some mystery prefabs left! In the three years since the map was started, over 125,000 post-war prefabs of the 156,623 erected under the Temporary Housing Programme (Emergency Factory Made Homes) have been identified and verified.

There are several reasons why these particular locations cannot be verified, and in some cases there is just not enough information, so local knowledge would be useful!

  • Maps for the relevant period are either too large scale or not available (or part of the map is missing/indistinct) for that period and the prefabs may have been demolished or dismantled in between map series.
  • Where prefab bungalows (or other prefab types) appear on 1:10,560 or above scale maps it is not possible to count them as they appear as solid blocks. The prefab bungalows and Swedish houses are distinctive and recognisable on the 1:1,250 and 1:2,500 scale maps.
  • Permanent prefabs like BISF, Orlit, Airey houses and Cornish Units, and the semi-detached Hawksley BL8 bungalows, cannot be easily distinguished from other semi-detached houses or terraces on any maps. Recent information has revealed that many thousands are still occupied, across the UK.

When I started the map I put in some curiosities like the interwar Nissen-Petren houses near Yeovil, and the Balnakiel Craft Village which is housed in prefabs. However they don’t really fit with the post-war prefab bungalows erected under the Temporary Housing Programme which the Prefab Museum was set up to celebrate and commemorate. I have also removed general information about an area, for example the total number of prefabs, or incorporated it into other markers.

I will keep a separate list of the curiosities and permanent prefabs that the Prefab Museum has been told and know about, and include this information on a section of the website. Permanent prefabs for example BISF houses have their own website with information and lists of streets where they still exist.

If you have information, please leave a comment on this post or email

Silver Hill, Winchester St Clements surgery was a group of prefabs just below the law courts. Comment on
Underhill, Barnet Source visitor to museum
Fleurs Place, Elgin 45 prefabs demolished mid-1960s. Source
Sullington Copse, Sullington Indeterminate number of prefabs due to map scale

Harbour Crescent, Harwich Norwegian prefab homes sent as a gift after the 1953 floods.
Shellbeach Road, Canvey Island
Earliest map 1958 Many prefabs were destroyed in the 1953 floods
Godley, Hyde The smallest site was at the bottom end of Water Street, where the Manchester Evening News once had a small distribution centre, with only four Prefabs.  Source
Barking Park, Barking reference to Nissen huts on Barking Park
Jardine Crescent, Coventry Source
 Knowsley Village prefabs, Knowsley Comprising Homer Rd, Penrhyn Rd, Wheat Rd, Croft Rd, Alt Rd and Roach Avenue, the area is now an industrial estate. Demolished in the 1960s. Source:
Mamhilad, Pontypool Mamhilad, Pontypool Source



Comments about this page

  • Mistley prefabs were centred in two groups. Stour View Close and Stour View Avenue. As the name suggests they overlooked the River Stour in the area known as New Mistley. My home was number 15 Stour View Close. 1948. I was still a bay when the pow’s from the war completed the concrete roads. Outside my house, etched into the road was: POW 1948.

    By Raymond Hall (22/01/2024)
  • Looking at all the blogs, no one seems to mention the large prefab estate at Pollards Hill, Mitcham, Surrey, where I lived in Recreation Close, has anybody lived there, our family moved there in 1946

    By Kenneth Alfred Harman (01/08/2023)
  • We lived in a prefab in the late 1950’s-early 1960’s, in Houghton-le-Spring, C o.Durham. It was known as the Arcon estate, our address was 57 Arcon Estate. We were moved therefrom a house with no electricity (gas lights) and an outside toilet. To my parents it was their first bit of luxury. Was the asbestos/cement not classed as dangerous at that time?

    By Alison McGuire (24/07/2023)
  • My family lived in a prefab in Holroyd Close Claygate circa 1961 I can’t find any pictures or any mention of them are there any archived photographs I wanted to show my eldest grandaughter the places I’ve lived

    By Susie Cox (06/11/2020)
  • There is a large estate in Crewe, Cheshire. of Hawksley BL8 prefabs.
    They have wrongly, in my opinion been cladded over, about 10 years ago or so, which I have always thought was ‘ illegal ‘ for as far as I was aware, these buildings were protected as being of historical interest.

    By tommy harris (15/07/2020)
  • hi there you dont seem to have any mention of prefabs from scotland sorry if you do but i cant see them. My father still owns one in Moredun edinburgh in where he is in process of selling it, there is one as well over the road from me in craigour and also two doors along there is another two prefabs i think they are AIRHO is it or OH ones not sure of construction but by looks of pictures def those models

    By debbie (08/03/2020)
  • Dear Patricia, thank you for your memories of your prefab in Maple Way. The location was not on the map but is now, with a credit to you. To answer your question about the prefab, the AIROH type had a toilet in the bathroom, the Arcon had a separate toilet. If you are willing to share your photos with the Prefab Museum archive, please email or post on the Facebook page best wishes, Jane

    By Jane Hearn (11/10/2018)
  • Hello from Australia,
    When I was about six months old, my parents and I moved into a prefab at Maple Way, Colchester, in early 1947. We loved living there, it had everything we needed and more, except it was freezing cold in winter!
    A separate indoor lavatory, a nice bathroom, a well-equipped kitchen, and a comfy living room… it was excellent.

    My mother always maintained it was made from metal, I can’t remember if she specified steel or aluminium, but she had visited a factory and seen the prefabs being constructed.

    We emigrated to New Zealand in late 1952, and had to begin all over again in abodes that were not nearly as nice. But at least it was a lot warmer there:-)

    What I’m wondering is, which design was our prefab and how might I find this out? After much perusal of various articles online and also in the July issue of ‘The Oldie’ magazine, which featured a photo of the design Arcon V, which looked similar, plus ‘Prefabs: A Social and Architectural History’ by Elisabeth Blanchett and Sonia Zhuravlyova, I am quite confused.

    Of course so many photos show prefabs in their later incarnations, with different windows and doors and often clad in other materials than the original. I’m presently hovering between the Arcon V and the Airoh, although a photo of the latter being assembled clearly shows the toilet in the bathroom, whereas ours was separate.

    I know the Colchester prefabs were still there in the sixties, but were long gone when I visited Maple Way in 2005. Does anyone else remember them? I have a couple of old photographs, one showing only a portion of the front exterior and another showing the back. Also one showing a neighbour’s living room, with nicely fitted cupboards and drawers. Nothing else to go on except my memory though, and that’s unreliable as I left aged six.

    By Patricia Harper (11/10/2018)
  • If Neil Midgley would like to contact me I can tell him all about 18 prefab Swedish houses in Cronton (was at the time in Lancashire now in Merseyside). My parents moved into one in 1946 and lived there all their married life, I lived there until I married in 1969. When my parents died I sold the house in 1991 (they had bought it on “the right to buy”) I still have the sale brochure with photo. Ours was a dormer and was also built with an AGA oven and fridge, bathroom and a huge garden. All the houses are still there in a road called Smithy Close and all lived in permanently.

    By Susan Knowles (05/02/2018)
  • I was born in 1954 and lived in wooden Nissan hut which was painted black in the middle of the room was a big black wood fire stove and was at the end of Thames Road Barking at the back of us was a farmers field full of cows.

    By Mr John turner (26/12/2017)
  • Hello Both. I have managed to find, what I believe to be some Aerial photographs of the Knowsley prefab site which is now an industrial estate.
    They are available on the Britain from above website
    Even better, if you register for free on the site you can actually zoom in to each image and actually make out the buildings.
    It’s great for exploring other areas too.
    I hope this helps and good luck with your continued search.

    By Marc Buck (06/10/2017)
  • Dear Malcolm

    Thank you very much for contacting us with information about prefabs in Faversham. We have located them on Arden and Millfield Roads, and have put them on our map with a credit to you. best wishes, Jane and Elisabeth

    By prefabmuseumsite (31/08/2017)
  • Hi there was prefabs in faversham Kent on mill field estate I was born there 1950 till we moved in 1968

    By Malcolm Jackson (30/08/2017)
  • By prefabmuseumsite (01/08/2017)
  • Dear Tina, thank you for contacting us. We do have the prefabs marked as being on Cuddington Way/North Walk but unfortunately there are no maps from the period that show them. We hope that the National Library of Scotland maps will cover that area soon. best wishes

    By prefabmuseumsite (01/08/2017)
  • Hi, I lived in a prefab as a child, we moved out in the early 60’s. These were by the Cheam Golf Club and some corn fields in Cheam Surrey. The address wrote and North Walk and Cuddington Way, cannot see them on your list though. Had a friend who in the early 70’s lived in 1 with her husband and children and that was in Tadworth in Surrey, always felt like coming home when I went to visit her. such great memories of an amazing childhood.

    By TINA LAKER (31/07/2017)
  • Hello Peter

    Thanks for contacting us with your very interesting question! Although we don’t know of any specific examples, it is entirely possible the dismantled prefabs were shipped abroad including to Africa. By the mid-sixties they were demolition-happy. We will be in Portsmouth on 6th May and will ask around! best wishes from Jane and Elisabeth

    By prefabmuseumsite (03/04/2017)
  • Dear Bloggers,

    I have a question about the american prefabs at Furze Lane Portsmouth. When we had to leave them in 1960 they weren’t demolished, they were ‘deconstructed’, carefully, with each piece marked by letters, A, B, C, etc., presumably so that they could be reconstructed in the right order. Each deconstructed prefab was stacked onto a low-loader for transportation, one to each low loader. As a ten year old I asked why, to be told that they were ‘going to Africa’. Responses to this story since have been disbelieving, and my searches in the local newspaper files of the time have proved fruitless. I wonder if any of them still exist – in a dry climate, eg South Africa, might they last longer? I was lucky enough to visit Cameroon last year, but I didn’t see my prefab. Does anyone else reading this blog have similar memories from those days?

    When we left our second prefab, a universal, in 1964, the asbestos panels were thrown together with no care taken at all. It would be fun to find out what happened. at Furze Lane.

    By Peter Gale (03/04/2017)

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