Moving Prefab Museum Archive - submissions and puzzles!

This photo was emailed to us by John via a friend on 6 July 2016. He wanted to know what sort of prefabs they are. They were in Martin Avenue, Mountsorrel, Leicestershire. This is what he said:

Attached a scan of an original negative showing a section of the old Martin Avenue, Mountsorrel. (The roads have been re-configured and although old names have been retained they do not always correspond.)  The picture clearly illustrates that each building comprised two “semis”. Unfortunately when I went to take the photograph my old home had already been demolished.  I have not seen this pattern of pre-fab anywhere else so should be pleased to learn something of the story. Electrical cables were strung from one chimney to the next along the length of the road. The roof was not quite flat but had very shallow rise to the centre line.  It was finished in some sort of black sheeting. Given the time context it is unlikely to have been rubber. Possibly a tarred fabric or tarpaulin?  Behind the bungalows and between the blocks were brick built sheds with coal/coke bunkers attached.

A bit of prefab research with help from Paul of the Airfield Research Group established them as Ministry of Works BCF (British Concrete Federation) huts. They were built in 1942 for Alvis factory workers. Alvis relocated to Mountsorrel from Coventry in 1940 after the Blitz, and returned in 1945, when the huts were vacated. On our Moving Prefab Museum exploration of South Cambridgeshire, we were shown a wartime nursery in Ware, Hertfordshire. When we shared the photo on Facebook, Sid identified it as a BCF hut. These nurseries were set up in 1940 for women mobilised to work in the factories, and after the war ended were managed by the Ministry of Education. Subsequently we heard from an ex-prefab resident of Belle Vale in Liverpool, who had trained as an NNEB at one of these nurseries and then worked in another, in Widnes. The one in Ware is now a health clinic. More information about wartime nurseries can be found on the Harpenden History site.

Anne-Marie, who exhibited at the Prefab Museum in Catford in 2014 and has remained a good friend and supporter, contacted her cousin Keith who used to live in a prefab in Wath Upon Dearne near Rotherham. Sadly his prefab has been demolished, but others are still standing and lived in. The local council has refurbished some of them and it’s tricky to see that they are prefabs – one Tarran remains relatively unaltered! Keith kindly sent photos of them.

British Concrete Federation huts, Mountsorrel, Leicestershire
John Green
John Green came to Avoncroft Museum with this photo of the BCF huts in Mountsorrel, Leicestershire
Prefab Museum
British Concrete Federation huts. Wartime nursery, now a health centre. Ware. Hertfordshire
Prefab Museum
Tarran prefabs, Wath Upon Dearne
Keith Ellis
Tarran prefabs, Wath Upon Dearne
Keith Ellis

Comments about this page

  • Many thanks for the article re Mountsorrel BCF prefabs. I note one still remains intact at the former RAF Dalton site in North Yorkshire. Another is to be found on the Knavesmire in York (by the side of the racecourse). Originally constructed as a canteen for wartime anti aircraft and searchlight service personnel. This building is now used as a changing room for those engaged in football.. Last year I drove by another at the entrance to a market garden in Goslipgate, Pickering, North Yorkshire, it appeared to be used as a storage shed. If you explore the website “Britain From Above” and search under RAF Wombleton, you aces a whole series of photos of this duration only airfield and several of the photos show the layout of one of the dispersed sites with 9 BCF prefabs. By signing in on this site you are able to magnify the photos which display a whole range of temporary wartime RAF structures. .

    By Kevin Sutherland (23/01/2018)

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