Harry Rutherford's
Festival of Britain Mural

Monday, 18 June 2012

Newtons Prefabs.

The following photos were sent to us by Tony Downend.

I was particularly excited at these photos as they show the Newton "Prefabs" as they were known to us. Tony says they knew them as the "Steel Houses".
I am surprised that there aren't more photos of these houses around as they were very well known in the area.
The photos show the houses during the Coronation  of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953.
Elizabeth ascended the throne upon the death of her father, King George VI on 6 February 1952, and was proclaimed Queen by her various privy and executive councils shortly afterwards. The coronation was held more than a year after the accession, on 2 June 1953. This followed the tradition that a festival such as a coronation was inappropriate during the period of mourning that followed the death of the preceding sovereign.

Does anyone know the history around these houses? Were these particular ones built as emergency housing after the war? What year were they erected and when were they rebuilt into the houses as they are now?

The parents and their children on Busheyfield Close. June 1953

The children on Busheyfield Close. June 1953


Busheyfield Close June 2012

Tony has sent some more photos of the "prefabs" which I will post in the coming week.

Many Thanks, Tony ! :)


Tom said...

I've always known them as 'Tin Town'..

Dave said...

I was born and brought up in Denton where the houses in Rose Hill, off Windmill Lane, were always referred to as 'the prefabs'. They were identical to the ones in Busheyfield Close and my understanding is that they were erected after the war to house families who had been made homeless during the conflict. If I can quote from the Wikipedia article entitled 'Prefabricated Home':

'In the United Kingdom the word "prefab" is often associated with a specific type of prefabricated house built in large numbers after the Second World War, such as Airey houses, as a temporary replacement for housing that had been destroyed by bombs, particularly in London.
Despite the intention that these dwellings would be a strictly temporary measure, many remained inhabited for years and even decades after the end of the war. A small number are still in use in the 21st Century, but more and more are being demolished. In 2011 it was announced that Britain's largest remaining prefab estate of 187 homes in Lewisham, South-East London, is to be redeveloped except for six homes.'

Dave said...

As far as the Coronation of the Queen taking place after an appropriate period of mourning is concerned, I couldn't help but reflect during the recent Diamond Jubilee celebrations that we were effectively celebrating the premature death of the Queen's father at the relatively young age of 56 on 6 February 1952.

John Taylor said...

Nice pics Tony. Am I right in saying that most prefabs were made out of asbestos? Health & safety would have a fit nowadays :-)

Still after the bombing people had to stay somewhere. When I was a kid my dad used to sing a song "Down in the jungle living in a tent, better than a prefab....No rent"!! Ha ha ha ha.

Werneth Low said...

There were a good number of prefabs behind the Grapes on Lord Derby Road. They were of single storey, bungalow type, but we're very roomy and well equipped. They were demolished, I think, to make way for the Wych Fold estate.

I'm not sure about the use of asbestos in the building of these homes, but certainly they were of non-standard construction which would have made selling them on very difficult as they were unmortgageable. They certainly served the purpose of their time though. Good memories.

Hydonian said...

Were the "chalets" on Werneth Low prefabs or something different? I can't remember.
My friends family used to own one. They were great!

Werneth Low said...

Not absolutely sure but I seem to recall that the chalets on WL were wooden. Do any still exist?

Hydonian said...

Yes, a few still remain. I have some photos somewhere that were taken last year. I'll post them when I find them ! :)

9of99 said...

An amazing set of images Tony, they truly represent a lost era of community spirit.
The BISF House is not a prefab in the strict sense of the word. The correct term is a steel framed house which was built shortly after the second world war due to the dire shortage of housing destroyed by bombings.
These houses were built as long term permanent housing unlike the smaller prefabricated Bungalows of the time. They were often referred to as prefabs due to the use of sheet steel which was used to clad the upper level. These sheets were strikingly similar to the sheets used in the temporary buildings.
This is where the resemblance ends.
The temporary bungalows were built in factories as almost complete units but the BISF house was erected on site. The frame was constructed on top of a concrete pad and the house was then clad in a variety of wall coverings.
We often see corrugated asbestos sheets used to cover the roof but in some parts of the Country corrugated steel sheeting was also used amongst other materials.
Apart from the roof there was surprisingly little asbestos used in the construction of the BISF house.
Sadly due to the lack of internal wall insulation present many of the houses are considered poorly insulated by todays standards, however with new government initiatives and funding, many properties are being externally clad in modern insulation panels which also provide a modern new appearance and much warmer homes.

I run the only BISF House website which helps to provide owners with information and resources. I would really love to share these images with my readers if I may?

Thank you so much for sharing, these images really have made my day.
I would love to see more if any other readers have any BISF photographs as many are simply being lost in time or thrown away. Such images form part of our history and it would be such a shame to lose them.

Anonymous said...

No, not all prefabs contained asbestos. I part-own a Hawksley BL8 3-bedroom prefab in Hertfordshire which is asbestos-free. Built in 1950, it is still in a good condition

Leebro said...

I too lived on Rose Hill, No.31 to be exact. My Mum and Dad were homeless, renting various rooms around Denton where Dad worked as a hatter. They were eventually given No.31 and just in time for then I arrived! The house was wonderful, warm in winter and cool in summer. Only supposed to have been up for ten years but they were refurbished in about 1970ish and eventually Mum and Dad had to be re-housed when they were eventually condemned around 1982/3. I had a right shock when I got married and my new wife and I moved into 41 Lumn Road in Hyde. No bathroom, outside loo and a coal fire. I used to get dressed in bed in winter and then scrape the ice off the inside of the windows!
Lee Brown.

Anonymous said...

How lovely to see tin town as it was, we lived at no 21 busheyfield from around 1951 my family moved there I was only 1yr old so probably not one of the kids in the photos but a very nice walk down memory lane, thank you.