Lybury Lane Prefabs
Winston Churchill declared that the government would produce 500,000 prefabs. In the event £150 million was allocated to the programme and 156, 623 ‘prefabs’ were designed, produced and erected between 1946-9, across the UK. Some were built on bombsites, others on parks and open spaces and some still survive beyond their intended lifespan of 10-15 years.
All approved prefab units had to have a minimum floor space size of 635 square feet (59.0m2), the parts a maximum of 7.5 feet (2.3m) wide to allow for transportation by road, and to house a ‘central service unit’. Exhibitions of prefab types were held at the Tate Gallery, also behind Selfridges, at the experimental/demonstration site in Northolt, Middlesex.
Initially costed at £650 each, prefabs turned out to be more expensive than traditionally built houses, mainly due to rising timber, steel, aluminium and other materials costs plus a shortage of labour which drove up wages.
The government owned the prefabs, and local authorities were given powers to purchase or acquire land (for example on parks and open spaces) and to install the infrastructure, roads and utilities. Local authorities applied for the number of prefabs they needed.
Prefabs were designed to include a fitted kitchen (with refrigerator, cooker and water heater), indoor bathroom with heated towel rail, toilet, fitted cupboards and a back boiler which provided constant hot water and a rudimentary vented hot air heating system. The bathroom and kitchen were ‘back to back’, connected by the central service unit. They were detached, and had gardens all round. Prefabs were prioritised for returning service personnel and their families.
According to the Prefab Museum there were 40 in Bettespool Meadows, but the Herts Memories site has a Webb photo of prefabs in Lybury Lane on the site of the house Roseacre. The picture was taken in 1954. Ian Whish says that these people are his grandparents George and Lillian Halsey with their dog Biddy at 2 The Square formally Lybury Cottages. His sister still lives in that house .