Take A Tour Of Catford's Prefab Estate

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By M@ Last edited 53 months ago
Take A Tour Of Catford's Prefab Estate

prefab

The Excalibur Estate in Catford is one of the last remaining prefab housing estates in London. These small bungalows were built cheaply and quickly —often by prisoners of war — to house those who'd lost their homes in the bombing of the Second World War.

Prefab estates were never intended as permanent housing, but many lasted decades longer than planned and are still cherished by some residents. Catford is home to the largest surviving estate, with 186 homes. All but six will soon be demolished by Lewisham Council as part of a redevelopment project, despite some local opposition. A petition against the move is available for signature.

Elisabeth Blanchet has spent several years photographing the estate and getting to know those who live there. On 21 September (2pm), she'll be leading a tour, pointing out the architecture and speaking to a few residents. Email elisabethblanchet@hotmail.com to book your place, free of charge. More details on Facebook.

Image copyright Elisabeth Blanchet.

Last Updated 16 September 2013

Tim Mars

They were not cheap but they were quick. It was hoped that prefabrication and mass-production would make them cheaper than conventional bricks-and-mortar homes, but it didn’t. They were quick but they weren’t cheap.

On the other hand, bricks and bricklayers were in short supply after the war, so conventional brick-and-mortar homes were not an option in the short term.

And, if they turned out not to be cheap to build, there was nothing cheap about the specification: fitted kitchens, hot and cold running water, built-in storage, electric lighting and sockets, a detached home of some 600 square feet with gardens—this was good quality accommodation with mod cons that ‘ordinary people’ could only dream of.

‘We opened the door and my wife said, “What a lovely big hall! We can get the pram in here”. There was a toilet and a bathroom. I’d been used to a toilet in the garden. The kitchen had an Electrolux refrigerator, a New World gas stove, plenty of cupboards. There was a nice garden. It was like coming into a fortune. My wife said, “Start measuring for the lino.” ‘

Eddie O’Mahony, Uni-Seco prefab, Excalibur Estate, Catford.