Photo by Jason Orton | Gallery

Built Not to Last

Prefab Estate, Catford, South East London, July 1999. Copyright Jason Orton

The UK's largest surviving estate of postwar prefab houses, described by conservationists as a unique slice of 20th-century social history, is set to be bulldozed and replaced by modern housing.

Only six of the 187 compact bungalows, erected from factory-built panels by German and Italian prisoners of war in 1945 and 1946, will be saved, after they received Grade-II listing last year. The remainder of the Excalibur estate in Catford, south-east London, will be demolished, along with its tin-roofed prefab church, St Mark's, believed to be one of a kind.

Campaigners say the planned redevelopment, formally approved by Lewisham council in September, will destroy a key piece of history from the aftermath of the second world war. The estate is the biggest surviving remnant of an ambitious project which saw 160,000 prefabs hurriedly erected during an acute housing shortage. Keeping just six, surrounded by hundreds of brand new houses and flats, would be pointless, they argue....

From Peter Walker, “Largest Postwar Prefab Estate to be Demolished,” Guardian.co.uk, September 2, 2011

Posted in: Architecture, Photography, Social Good

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