Memories from a childhood in Cheadle Hulme

Mr and Mrs Gwilt :Proud tenants of a new home
Back garden
The front 'porch'

I was really pleased to discover the Prefab Museum. The photographs and articles have stirred up childhood memories of life on one of the many prefab estates that sprang up after the war.

When my father returned from Germany in 1945 and demobbed, he lived, for a short time, with my mother and older sister with his parents in Heald Green, Cheshire. They were thrilled to be able to move into their own home in 1947, one of 44 prefabs built on the outskirts of the village of Cheadle Hulme, Cheshire. ( Cheadle SK8, https://www.old-maps.co.uk/#/Map/386919/386617/13/101329)

I was born at 36 Turves Road, and lived there for 12 years. I can remember the metal fitted cupboards and drawers, and caught my head on some of the sharp corners. They were good for hiding in.   The kitchen was also fitted with cupboards, surfaces, a fridge, and boiler for washing, with a swing- out mangle. It was all very modern and compact. The houses were cold though, and at times, ice formed inside on the thin walls.

My childhood was happy. We had a strong sense of community. Children played freely in the surrounding fields, and large back gardens.  Each house had, what seemed to be, a recycled Anderson shelter. We used ours to store coal for the little coal fire we had in the living room, but you could easily get on top of it and pretend it was a waggon train.

In 1961, I started to attend the area’s Grammar school, and visited the homes of friends who lived in rather more substantial brick houses. As teenagers, my sister and I became somewhat conscious of the rather cramped conditions we lived in, and were delighted, in !963, to move into a ‘proper’ brick- built council house on a small council estate in Heald Green.

Some of the prefabs were subsequently bricked up and may still exist, but those on the main road were demolished, and replaced by private houses.

I have lived in Scotland for 35 years and never revisited my old estate or what’s left of it. However, some years ago I went to the People’s Palace Museum on Glasgow Green, and they had a model of a prefab, exactly like the one I had lived in. You could look down on it and imagine yourself in each of the rooms. I have also discovered that three friends had spent some of their early years in prefabs in Scotland. We are thinking of forming a support group called the Prefab Sprouts (with apologies to the Durham-based band).

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