Original prefabs (aka prefabricated houses) were built after WW2 for returning servicemen and women after a housing shortage. Known as ‘palaces for the people’, the standardised design was created to allow more space, as well as modern amenities including running water, washing machines and electricity. Today, only one prefab estate survives and it’s in Catford, south east London. Six of the historical buildings are preserved by English Heritage, but the rest are constantly threatened with demolition by Lewisham council, who want to turn the estate into 400 new homes. The council have even been accused of ‘gestapo’ tactics by the residents, who say that they have allowed crime and waste dumping to flourish in the area to make the demolition viable.
Photographer Elisabeth Blanchet is documenting the lives of prefab inhabitants, and discovering why the communities and estates are so very well-loved. She’s starting with the Excalibur estate in Catford before touring Britain and is hoping to document this part of Britain’s architectural past. Victoria Gray
Elisabeth needs support for her Prefabs project. Find out more at Elisabeth’s Prefabs page.
Jim, an Excalibur estate resident, in front of the prefab where he has lived for 20 years.
The Catford prefabs estate in South London, 2004.
The residents have decorated their prefabs to make them unique. This is a great mock Tudor.