Once upon a time, in the UK there was a housing shortfall, believe it or not! A mighty, siege on our nations resolve and resources meant that a wise and strong, pipe smoking Prime Minister called Winston Churchill made a public speech, declaring that:
“Factories have been assigned, the necessary set-up is being made ready, materials are being ear-marked as far as possible, the most convenient sites will be chosen, the whole business is to be treated as a military evolution handled by the government with private industry harnessed to its service.”
He said this in response to around 1 million homes being destroyed or damaged because of the Second World War. The factories that Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill referred to were factories to produce pre-fabricated emergency housing. These factories were deployed with the efficiency and vigour of a government with a wartime mentality. Economies of scale, mass production, a great machine to deliver an emergency housing shortfall.
Despite building 156,622 emergency housing, later referred to as “post-war pre-fab”, the UK still faced a huge housing shortfall. A new form of construction called Pre-cast Reinforced Concrete (PRC) was introduced from around 1945 to 1955 to meet the shortage of permanent housing and bring the cost of housing down. During this time 1.5 million homes were completed. Different builders around the time marketed different model houses such as the Airey, the Cornish, the Wates, the Unity, the Reema, the Woolaway and the Next Step. All the buildings of this permanent pre-fab era had a 60-year life expectancy and form the landscape and vernacular of many of the council estates around the suburbs of the UK.