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Brickfields Homes through time
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Roman homes Medieval homes Tudor homes Georgian homes Victorian homes Pre WW2  homes Post WW2 homes

Post WWII Homes

World War II created a new housing problem because many homes were bombed. There was also another population boom in the 1940’s and another two million houses were needed by the end of the decade.

Some people were housed in what were known as ’prefab’ houses, short for prefabricated, which means they were built in sections in a factory and put together on site. This took as little as three hours! These houses were made from metal and wood. Some were even built using old aircraft wings.

The homes were very popular as they had running water, inside bathrooms and electric cookers. They also had large gardens to grow vegetables as rationing went on well into the 1950’s. Despite being built to last only ten years there are still people living in some of them today in Bristol, Newport and Birmingham.

Three quarters of a million traditional brick homes were built by councils between 1945 and 1953. To make way for these homes the demolition of bomb damaged homes and slums continued. In some cases though good homes were knocked down to make way for big estates, not because they were inadequate accommodation.

Concern about the number of houses being knocked down led to the introduction, in 1947, of listing buildings. This is a system to protect important buildings that have interesting architecture or history. For example, most buildings built before 1840 are listed. It is illegal to demolish a listed building or to change it so most people that buy them restore them.

During the 1950’s high rise flats became more common as land became even scarcer. The first lifts appeared too. The trend for high-rise living continued in the 1960’s and the big tower blocks that were built became known as ‘streets in the sky’. Their popularity dropped dramatically though in 1968 when part of a block, Ronan Point, collapsed. However many do still exist and can be seen all over London.

Housing today is very varied. If you look around London you will see old and new, big and small, high rise and low rise houses. One interesting type of home that has been built recently is Murray Grove in Shoreditch. What makes it special is that it was prefabricated, but unlike the prefab homes built after the war Murray grove is built to last. It has been built by the Peabody Trust, who built homes for the poor in Victorian times. These homes are quick and cheap to build on a large scale and are of high quality. They could well be the homes of the future.

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Bomb damage, Bayston Road, Hackney 1940.
Bomb damage, Bayston Road, Hackney 1940. © Hackney Archives.

A pre-fab home being delivered for public display outside the Tate Gallery, 1945.
A pre-fab home being delivered for public display outside the Tate Gallery, 1945. © Crown copyright, NMR.

High rise blocks on The Beckers estate, a 1950's development in Hackney.
High rise blocks on The Beckers estate, a 1950's development in Hackney.
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