1945 and All That: Bevan, Building and the Prefabs

Following on an excellent talk from Ramit Saksena on Brutalism, T Dan Smith and Newcastle today, I have decided to repost four blog posts on housing in post-war Britain (over 4 days in a wholly spurious exercise in building up some suspense). The first, chronologically speaking, was the last to be written, so it’s not long been up, but what the hell?

RGS History

The front cover of Peter Hennessy’s brilliant Never Again, a study of Britain under the Attlee governments (from which much of what follows is drawn), gives a photograph of Gunner Hector Morgan returning home, having been a POW in Singapore, to his wife and son and their new prefab, in south London’s Tulse Hill, in 1945. Between 1945 and 1949, over 150,000 prefabricated housing units were built. These prefabs were a short term solution to a problem that was in part a product of war, but in truth a problem of far longer standing: a shortage of housing, the terrible state of much of the housing there was, and the expectation that it was a problem that the government had to take the lead in solving.

That the state could, even should, intervene to deal with bad housing and related issues was a long-established principle by 1945. The first…

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