Residents Share Stories, Photos And Enduring Love For Their Prefab Homes

prefab housing uk 1940s

 

My passion or rather obsession for prefabs happened by accident very soon after I arrived in London in 2001. As a photographer, I have always been interested in photographing communities and people in different sorts of habitats. I had started a long term project on Gypsies and was spending a lot of time on Travellers’ sites. A friend of mine told me there were some kind of mobile homes near where she lived in Peckham. “You should go and have a look”, she said. And that’s what I did. I immediately recognised the little bungalow was a post-war prefab – we also had loads in Normandy where I come from. I was surprised it was still up, lived in and looked after. I knocked on the door. An old man opened it. With the thickest French accent, I told him I was interested in his house. Could he give me a bit of a background? He spotted the accent and asked where I was coming from in France. I replied, he smiled. He was a D-Day veteran. I was invited in and bombarded with prefab information, tea and biscuits.

That’s how I discovered the Temporary Housing Programme and how the war government had decided as early as 1942 to use prefabs as a solution to house servicemen and people who had been bombed out after the war. More than 156,000 were erected all over the UK in 1946. Supposed to last 10 to 15 years, a few thousand are still up and very much loved by their residents seventy years later.

 

Peckham, South London, is where my prefabs journey starts. Well, my London one. I read an article about home parks in the Big Issue and wanted to go and photograph one. 'Why do people live in mobile homes, caravans, prefabs?' is a question I have always asked myself. I was talking to a colleague at the French school where I used to work about this idea of doing a piece about a park home outside London. 'You don't need to go that far' she says, 'there are some sorts of mobile homes where I live down in Peckham. Come round and I'll show you'. Which I did... I found myself in front of a row of prefabs. What were they still doing here? Still standing and very much lived-in? I knocked on a door. An old man opened and asked me what the purpose of my visit was. I said I was a French photographer interested in his little house. Could he tell me more about it? He invited me in for a cup of tea and started to tell me what he knew about the history of Britain post-war prefabs. He became particularly talkative when he found out I was from Normandy, where he had landed in June 1944. He proudly showed me his prefab. Although he didn't wish to be photographed, the time I spent with him was a wonderful introduction to the world of post-war prefabs. Stanley and Ted, father and son outside their prefab on Kimberley Avenue. I haven't got any picture of their interior for a good reason: they freaked me out... When I knocked on their door back in 2002, Ted invited me in, showed me his living-room and shut the door behind me. I panicked for a few seconds. I was in the filthiest place I had ever seen. The floor and the furniture were all covered with newspaper, there was dog poo about everywhere and behind the kitchen door, I could here the dog barking. I felt trapped. How to escape? Lucky me, Ted didn't want me any harm. I can't remember exactly what happened but I must have found an excuse and he let me go. It was one of the only times I said no to a cup of tea in a prefab.

Peckham, South London, is where my prefabs journey starts.

Joyce Cramp in 2012 in Killarmarsh, Post-war prefabs in Derbyshire, September 2012

Joyce Cramp in 2012 in Killarmarsh, Post-war prefabs in Derbyshire, September 2012

 

After my first prefab visit, I quickly understood I had discovered a national treasure, nobody seemed to really care about. The last prefabs were being demolished and nothing was done to record the residents’ memories and photograph the buildings. So as no-one was doing it, I went on a systematic mission of photographing all the ones I could find.

When residents were happy to let me in, I would photograph them inside their homes and record their memories. That’s how I became a prefab anorak. I really loved the buildings – their design, the fact they were detached and surrounded by large gardens, their modernism (they were all mod cons, with constant hot water, fitted and equipped kitchen, inside toilets), and the sense of community they helped create. My love for prefabs has never stopped since and from amateur enthusiast, I became an expert.

 

Ipswich prefab estate, 2016

Ipswich prefab estate, 2016

Ray Jones showing the prefab he grew up in in Wales, Catford, May 2016

Ray Jones showing the prefab he grew up in in Catford, May 2016

Post-war prefabricated houses in Plasterfield, Stornoway, Isle of Lewis, Scotland. About 50 of them were built in 1947 as a response to the post-war housing shortage on Lewis. They were called the "Isle of Lewis type".

Post-war prefabricated houses in Plasterfield, Stornoway, Isle of Lewis, Scotland. About 50 of them were built in 1947 as a response to the post-war housing shortage on Lewis. They were called the “Isle of Lewis type”.

Thousands of post-war prefabs are still being lived in and cherished by their tenants or owners all over the UK. I love prefabs. Some people will think living in a prefab is like living in a box. Yes, it might sound or even look a bit like that but what a lovely, sophisticated box! I am talking about post-war prefabs, erected in a hurry just after the war when Britain was suffering an unprecedented housing shortage. More than 150 000 of these prefabricated houses were erected all over the UK mainly ins small estates. They were luxury to most of the residents who mainly were service men coming back from the war and reuniting with their family. Their prefab became their little castle with all mod cons and even more than any working class could hope for at the time: hot water, toilets inside, a fitted kitchen with a gas fridge and a garden all around the house. Part of the temporary housing programme, they were not supposed to last over a decade. Yet, over 70 years later, a few Thousands are still standing and very much loved. Why do people love their prefab so much, why are they so attached to their "cardboard or tin boxes"? Is it the layout of the prefab, the design of the interior, the garden around? Is the sense of community they created? Or a combination of everything?That's what I have been trying to find out for the last 11 years, since I started taking pictures of prefabs in South London. I have travelled all over the UK, from Redditch to Newport, Chesterfield, Catford and even on the Isle of Lewis to try to draw some answers. I have met wonderful people and come back with their portraits and their moving stories. Here they are for you to discover through this project.

 

Thousands of post-war prefabs are still being lived in and cherished by their tenants or owners all over the UK. I love prefabs. Some people will think living in a prefab is like living in a box. Yes, it might sound or even look a bit like that but what a lovely, sophisticated box! I am talking about post-war prefabs, erected in a hurry just after the war when Britain was suffering an unprecedented housing shortage. More than 150 000 of these prefabricated houses were erected all over the UK mainly in small estates. They were luxury to most of the residents who mainly were service men coming back from the war and reuniting with their family. Their prefab became their castle with all mod cons and even more than any working class could hope for at the time: hot water, toilets inside, a fitted kitchen with a gas fridge and a garden all around the house. Part of the temporary housing programme, they were not supposed to last over a decade. Yet, over 70 years later, a few thousand are still standing and very much loved.

 

When I met both Jean and Ronald in Chesterfield, I was very touched by the love they still shared for each other after being married for almost 60 years. There was something very moving about them although Ronald looks a bit grumpy on this photo. He was a miner as most of the men from his generation who live in prefabs. He had a bad cough when I met him in 2005 but he was still smoking occasionally. His 60s ashtray always stood near his armchair. Seven years later, Jean is sitting in it, the ashtray has gone, so has Ronald. Jean has hung a black and white photo of 'her Ron' - as she calls him - when he was a kid and a recent one in colour just above his old armchair. Jean sounds sad when she talks about him but she can also be very smiley and she shows us where she now usually sits, by the window, 'so I can have the view on everything what's going on on the street!', she she admits, with a big cheeky smile.

When I met both Jean and Ronald in Chesterfield, I was very touched by the love they still shared for each other after being married for almost 60 years. There was something very moving about them – although Ronald looks a bit grumpy in this photo. He was a miner as were many of the men from his generation who lived in prefabs. He had a bad cough when I met him in 2005 but he was still smoking occasionally. His 1960s ashtray always stood near his armchair. Seven years later, Jean is sitting in it, the ashtray has gone, so has Ronald. Jean has hung a black and white photo of “my Ron” – as she calls him – when he was a kid and a recent one in colour just above his old armchair. Jean sounds sad when she talks about him but she can also be very smiley and she shows us where she now usually sits, by the window, “So I can have the view on everything what’s going on on the street!”, she she admits, with a big cheeky smile.

 

When I met both Jean and Ronald, I was very touched by the love they still shared for each other after being married for almost 60 years. There was something very moving about them although Ronald looks a bit grumpy on this photo. He was a miner as most of the men from his generation who live in prefabs. He had a bad cough when I met him in 2005 but he was still smoking occasionally. His 60s ashtray always stood near his armchair. Seven years later, Jean is sitting in it, the ashtray has gone, so has Ronald. Jean has hung a black and white photo of 'her Ron' - as she calls him - when he was a kid and a recent one in colour just above his old armchair. Jean sounds sad when she talks about him but she can also be very smiley and she shows us where she now usually sits, by the window, 'so I can have the view on everything what's going on on the street!', she she admits, with a big cheeky smile.

Ronald

 

Ted Carter in his prefab in Catford, in January 2013 I love prefabs. Some people will think living in a prefab is like living in a box. Yes, it might sound or even look a bit like that but what a lovely, sophisticated box! I am talking about post-war prefabs, erected in a hurry just after the war when Britain was suffering an unprecedented housing shortage. More than 150 000 of these prefabricated houses were erected all over the UK mainly ins small estates. They were luxury to most of the residents who mainly were service men coming back from the war and reuniting with their family. Their prefab became their little castle with all mod cons and even more than any working class could hope for at the time: hot water, toilets inside, a fitted kitchen with a gas fridge and a garden all around the house. Part of the temporary housing programme, they were not supposed to last over a decade. Yet, over 70 years later, a few Thousands are still standing and very much loved. Why do people love their prefab so much, why are they so attached to their "cardboard or tin boxes"? Is it the layout of the prefab, the design of the interior, the garden around? Is the sense of community they created? Or a combination of everything?That's what I have been trying to find out for the last 11 years, since I started taking pictures of prefabs in South London. I have travelled all over the UK, from Redditch to Newport, Chesterfield, Catford and even on the Isle of Lewis to try to draw some answers. I have met wonderful people and come back with their portraits and their moving stories. Here they are for you to discover through this project.

Ted Carter in his prefab in Catford, in January 2013

A prefab on the Excalibur estate at Christmas time in 2011. Post-war prefabricated house at the Excalibur Estate, in Catford, South London. The 186 uni-seco prefabs were built in 1946 by German and Italian prisoners of war.

A prefab on the Excalibur estate at Christmas time in 2011. Post-war prefabricated house at the Excalibur Estate, in Catford, South London. The 186 uni-seco prefabs were built in 1946 by German and Italian prisoners of war.

'The demolition is breaking my heart. Quite honestly, it will be finish of me if I have to move. I donít like to think of them being pulled down. It breaks my heart. I close my eyes when I pass the ones that are boarded up. Iíve loved this place from day one', Eddie O'Mahony from the Excalibur Estate comments.

“The demolition is breaking my heart. Quite honestly, it will be finish of me if I have to move. I don’t like to think of them being pulled down. It breaks my heart. I close my eyes when I pass the ones that are boarded up. I’ve loved this place from day one'” – Eddie O’Mahony from the Excalibur Estate.

In the kitchen of a North Wingfield prefab, 2005. Thousands of post-war prefabs are still being lived in and cherished by their tenants or owners all over the UK. I love prefabs. Some people will think living in a prefab is like living in a box. Yes, it might sound or even look a bit like that but what a lovely, sophisticated box! I am talking about post-war prefabs, erected in a hurry just after the war when Britain was suffering an unprecedented housing shortage. More than 150 000 of these prefabricated houses were erected all over the UK mainly ins small estates. They were luxury to most of the residents who mainly were service men coming back from the war and reuniting with their family. Their prefab became their little castle with all mod cons and even more than any working class could hope for at the time: hot water, toilets inside, a fitted kitchen with a gas fridge and a garden all around the house. Part of the temporary housing programme, they were not supposed to last over a decade. Yet, over 70 years later, a few Thousands are still standing and very much loved. Why do people love their prefab so much, why are they so attached to their "cardboard or tin boxes"? Is it the layout of the prefab, the design of the interior, the garden around? Is the sense of community they created? Or a combination of everything?That's what I have been trying to find out for the last 11 years, since I started taking pictures of prefabs in South London. I have travelled all over the UK, from Redditch to Newport, Chesterfield, Catford and even on the Isle of Lewis to try to draw some answers. I have met wonderful people and come back with their portraits and their moving stories. Here they are for you to discover through this project.

In the kitchen of a North Wingfield prefab, 2005.

In the bedroom of a North Wingfield prefab, 2005. Thousands of post-war prefabs are still being lived in and cherished by their tenants or owners all over the UK. I love prefabs. Some people will think living in a prefab is like living in a box. Yes, it might sound or even look a bit like that but what a lovely, sophisticated box! I am talking about post-war prefabs, erected in a hurry just after the war when Britain was suffering an unprecedented housing shortage. More than 150 000 of these prefabricated houses were erected all over the UK mainly ins small estates. They were luxury to most of the residents who mainly were service men coming back from the war and reuniting with their family. Their prefab became their little castle with all mod cons and even more than any working class could hope for at the time: hot water, toilets inside, a fitted kitchen with a gas fridge and a garden all around the house. Part of the temporary housing programme, they were not supposed to last over a decade. Yet, over 70 years later, a few Thousands are still standing and very much loved. Why do people love their prefab so much, why are they so attached to their "cardboard or tin boxes"? Is it the layout of the prefab, the design of the interior, the garden around? Is the sense of community they created? Or a combination of everything?That's what I have been trying to find out for the last 11 years, since I started taking pictures of prefabs in South London. I have travelled all over the UK, from Redditch to Newport, Chesterfield, Catford and even on the Isle of Lewis to try to draw some answers. I have met wonderful people and come back with their portraits and their moving stories. Here they are for you to discover through this project.

In the bedroom of a North Wingfield prefab, 2005.

Ted (Edward James Lawson) was a lovely man. I used to spend a lot of time in his prefab. He had a pretty one with timber cladded exterior walls. Each room was painted with bright colours: the kitchen was blue, the living room pink, the bathroom orange... I particularly loved the black and white portrait of her wife painted over with watercolours. He was offered a prefab in the late 80s as his disabled wife couldn't manage stairs anymore. They both loved the place straight away. When she passed away, he decided to stay. Ted died in 2006, one year after I last saw him. Howard, the TMO (Excalibur Tenants Management Office) manager told me he was very distress at the end, mainly because of what was going to happen to the prefabs.

Ted (Edward James Lawson) was a lovely man. I used to spend a lot of time in his prefab. He had a pretty one with timber cladded exterior walls. Each room was painted with bright colours: the kitchen was blue, the living room pink, the bathroom orange… I particularly loved the black and white portrait of her wife painted over with watercolours. He was offered a prefab in the late 1980s as his disabled wife couldn’t manage stairs anymore. They both loved the place straight away. When she passed away, he decided to stay. Ted died in 2006, one year after I last saw him. Howard, the TMO (Excalibur Tenants Management Office) manager told me he was very distress at the end, mainly because of what was going to happen to the prefabs.

A few months after my first prefabs' visit in Peckham, I discovered the Excalibur Estate in Catford, an estate of 186 post-war 'uni-secos' to be precise. Possibly the largest remaining one in the UK. There was a holiday feel to it: the uniformity of the bungalows, the little streets and alleys, the low rise skyline and the cute gardens surrounding each prefab. Surprise was my first reaction. How could there still be there, all of them, in a sort of unity? Then I felt moved, touched by the strong sense of community they had probably help create. I knew I was going to become an Excalibur Estate regular, which I am still, more than a decade later... Eddie O'Mahony when I first met him in 2002. Born in 1920, Eddie is the oldest resident in the estate. After being demobbed and returning from Singapore in 1946, he found a bombed-out home and nowhere for his young wife Ellen and their little son to live. At first he wasnít sure he wanted to live in a prefab but Ellen, who was used to outdoor toilets and no plumbing, immediately loved the prefabís mod cons: a refrigerator, gas stove and lovely garden. Eddie has cared lovingly for his home and even bought it in the early 90s. He has kept many of its original features and proudly says: 'I love my prefab. I wouldn't swap it for Buckingham Palace, even if it included the Queen'.

A few months after my first prefabs’ visit in Peckham, I discovered the Excalibur Estate in Catford, an estate of 186 post-war ‘uni-secos’ to be precise. Possibly the largest remaining one in the UK. There was a holiday feel to it: the uniformity of the bungalows, the little streets and alleys, the low rise skyline and the cute gardens surrounding each prefab. Surprise was my first reaction. How could there still be there, all of them, in a sort of unity? Then I felt moved, touched by the strong sense of community they had probably help create. I knew I was going to become an Excalibur Estate regular, which I am still, more than a decade later… Above is Eddie O’Mahony. I first met him in 2002. Born in 1920, Eddie is the oldest resident in the estate. After being demobbed and returning from Singapore in 1946, he found a bombed-out home and nowhere for his young wife Ellen and their little son to live. At first he wasn’t sure he wanted to live in a prefab but Ellen, who was used to outdoor toilets and no plumbing, immediately loved the prefab’s mod cons: a refrigerator, gas stove and lovely garden. Eddie has cared lovingly for his home and even bought it in the early 1990s. He has kept many of its original features and proudly says: ‘I love my prefab. I wouldn’t swap it for Buckingham Palace, even if it included the Queen’

The Catford prefabs estate in South London, 2004. Thousands of post-war prefabs are still being lived in and cherished by their tenants or owners all over the UK. I love prefabs. Some people will think living in a prefab is like living in a box. Yes, it might sound or even look a bit like that but what a lovely, sophisticated box! I am talking about post-war prefabs, erected in a hurry just after the war when Britain was suffering an unprecedented housing shortage. More than 150 000 of these prefabricated houses were erected all over the UK mainly ins small estates. They were luxury to most of the residents who mainly were service men coming back from the war and reuniting with their family. Their prefab became their little castle with all mod cons and even more than any working class could hope for at the time: hot water, toilets inside, a fitted kitchen with a gas fridge and a garden all around the house. Part of the temporary housing programme, they were not supposed to last over a decade. Yet, over 70 years later, a few Thousands are still standing and very much loved. Why do people love their prefab so much, why are they so attached to their "cardboard or tin boxes"? Is it the layout of the prefab, the design of the interior, the garden around? Is the sense of community they created? Or a combination of everything?That's what I have been trying to find out for the last 11 years, since I started taking pictures of prefabs in South London. I have travelled all over the UK, from Redditch to Newport, Chesterfield, Catford and even on the Isle of Lewis to try to draw some answers. I have met wonderful people and come back with their portraits and their moving stories. Here they are for you to discover through this project.

The Catford prefabs estate in South London, 2004.

In 2002, the local authorities in Redditch in the Midlands wanted to pull down the 32 Dolphin Road prefabs and redevelop the area. Alan Mason, one of the residents, had seen some of my work published on the internet and wondered if I could use my contacts to alert whoever could help them with their fight against the council. I said I would do what was in my limited power and travelled to Redditch on a stormy day of October 2002. Although it was only about 40 minutes by train from Birmingham, I had the feeling I was reaching an end of the world. Maybe because the tracks were stopping there, it was the end of the line. This photo shows Jack in his prefab in 2002, during the campaign to save the bungalows. Jack was the oldest resident on the estate.

In 2002, the local authorities in Redditch in the Midlands wanted to pull down the 32 Dolphin Road prefabs and redevelop the area. Alan Mason, one of the residents, had seen some of my work published on the internet and wondered if I could use my contacts to alert whoever could help them with their fight against the council. I said I would do what was in my limited power and travelled to Redditch on a stormy day of October 2002. Although it was only about 40 minutes by train from Birmingham, I had the feeling I was reaching an end of the world. Maybe because the tracks were stopping there, it was the end of the line. This photo shows Jack in his prefab in 2002, during the campaign to save the bungalows. Jack was the oldest resident on the estate.

Abandonned prefabs in Newport, 2003. Thousands of post-war prefabs are still being lived in and cherished by their tenants or owners all over the UK. I love prefabs. Some people will think living in a prefab is like living in a box. Yes, it might sound or even look a bit like that but what a lovely, sophisticated box! I am talking about post-war prefabs, erected in a hurry just after the war when Britain was suffering an unprecedented housing shortage. More than 150 000 of these prefabricated houses were erected all over the UK mainly ins small estates. They were luxury to most of the residents who mainly were service men coming back from the war and reuniting with their family. Their prefab became their little castle with all mod cons and even more than any working class could hope for at the time: hot water, toilets inside, a fitted kitchen with a gas fridge and a garden all around the house. Part of the temporary housing programme, they were not supposed to last over a decade. Yet, over 70 years later, a few Thousands are still standing and very much loved. Why do people love their prefab so much, why are they so attached to their "cardboard or tin boxes"? Is it the layout of the prefab, the design of the interior, the garden around? Is the sense of community they created? Or a combination of everything?That's what I have been trying to find out for the last 11 years, since I started taking pictures of prefabs in South London. I have travelled all over the UK, from Redditch to Newport, Chesterfield, Catford and even on the Isle of Lewis to try to draw some answers. I have met wonderful people and come back with their portraits and their moving stories. Here they are for you to discover through this project.

Abandoned prefabs in Newport, 2003.

Boarded up prefab on the Excalibur Estate, Catford, 2013

Boarded up prefab on the Excalibur Estate, Catford, 2013.

Rose in her uni-seco prefab on the Excalibur Estate, 2004

Rose in her uni-seco prefab on the Excalibur Estate, 2004

The Excalibur estate in 2004

The Excalibur estate in 2004

The Excalibur Estate, post-war prefab estate in Catford, South London 2002-2004

The Excalibur Estate, post-war prefab estate in Catford, South London 2002-2004

Overview of the Excalibur Estate in Catford, South London, 2004.

Excalibur Estate

Jim Blackender in front of his prefab in 2009. Jim fought and lost. He raised an army of residents to save the prefabs from demolition but the battle ended up in a ballot which led by 54% to 46% to the 'regeneration' of the estate. By regeneration, the council means demolition of the post-war bungalows and replacement with double and triple storeys dwellings. The idea is to triple the density of the population but it's difficult to find out more as Lewisham is remaining very discreet about the future. The demolition process should have started in October 2012 but in June 2013, it still hadn't begun. On the estate, more and more prefabs are being boarded up. Residents were hoping they would be rehoused in new houses at the same location but it doesn't look like it will happen, so they are ending up accepting other housing options offered by the council as Jim and his wife Lauren did. In September 2012, they left their prefab for good for a 2 bedroom attached house in Rochester, Kent. I paid them a visit in Winter 2013. They both became very emotional when talking about their prefab. The scar hasn't healed yet. 'In a prefab, youíve got a two-bedroom detached property and unless you have lots of money, youíre never ever going to get that again. It was something we were fortunate to have as council tenants. Once the prefabs are gone, theyíre gone forever; youíre never going to get back to a place like that. I liked everything about the prefab ñ I couldn't put a finger on it. It was the people, the location. When we moved in 20-odd years ago, there was a really strong community, and there was no way anyone could have taken that place from the residents. But itís been left to rot, the Council should have been carrying out repairs, painting and redecorating, so people would want to live there, but hardly anything has been done to the estate. Itís depressing to watch it fall into disrepair'.

Jim Blackender in front of his prefab in 2009. Jim fought and lost. He raised an army of residents to save the prefabs from demolition but the battle ended up in a ballot which led by 54% to 46% to the ‘regeneration’ of the estate. By regeneration, the council means demolition of the post-war bungalows and replacement with double and triple storeys dwellings. The idea is to triple the density of the population but it’s difficult to find out more as Lewisham is remaining very discreet about the future. The demolition process should have started in October 2012 but in June 2013, it still hadn’t begun. On the estate, more and more prefabs are being boarded up. Residents were hoping they would be rehoused in new houses at the same location but it doesn’t look like it will happen, so they are ending up accepting other housing options offered by the council as Jim and his wife Lauren did. In September 2012, they left their prefab for good for a 2 bedroom attached house in Rochester, Kent. I paid them a visit in Winter 2013. They both became very emotional when talking about their prefab. The scar hasn’t healed yet.
“In a prefab, you’ve got a two-bedroom detached property and unless you have lots of money, you’re never ever going to get that again,” says Jim. “It was something we were fortunate to have as council tenants. Once the prefabs are gone, they’re gone forever; you’re never going to get back to a place like that. I liked everything about the prefab. I couldn’t put a finger on it. It was the people, the location. When we moved in 20-odd years ago, there was a really strong community, and there was no way anyone could have taken that place from the residents. But it’s been left to rot, the Council should have been carrying out repairs, painting and redecorating, so people would want to live there, but hardly anything has been done to the estate. It’s depressing to watch it fall into disrepair.”

Elisabeth Blanchet, Rosemary Roffey and Alan Brine outside the prefab they grew up in on the Excalibur Estate, May 2014

Elisabeth Blanchet, Rosemary Roffey and Alan Brine outside the prefab they grew up in on the Excalibur Estate, May 2014

Christine Gregory in front of her prefab in 2012: I have never been inside such a packed prefab. There is stuff about everywhere: walls covered with posters, photos, videos, dvds, armchairs, sofas, shelves and funny furniture for cats! Christine has got 13 of them! Not surprising she is nicknamed 'the cat lady of Catford'! Whatever happens, Christine is determined to stay in her prefab: 'They are all right. You just have to do them up a bit from time to time. They are lovely'.

Christine Gregory in front of her prefab in 2012: I have never been inside such a packed prefab. There is stuff about everywhere: walls covered with posters, photos, videos, DVDs, armchairs, sofas, shelves and funny furniture for cats! Christine has got 13 of them! Not surprising she is nicknamed ‘the cat lady of Catford’! Whatever happens, Christine is determined to stay in her prefab: “They are all right. You just have to do them up a bit from time to time. They are lovely.”

Alice outside her uni-seco Prefab in Nunhead, 2002. Post-war prefabs in Peckham, Nunhead, Dulwich, South London in 2002 and 2003

Alice outside her uni-seco Prefab in Nunhead, 2002. Post-war prefabs in Peckham, Nunhead, Dulwich, South London in 2002 and 2003

Mary Lowe inside her uni-seco prefab in Nunhead, 2002. Post-war prefabs in Peckham, Nunhead, Dulwich, South London in 2002 and 2003

Mary Lowe inside her uni-seco prefab in Nunhead, 2002. Post-war prefabs in Peckham, Nunhead, Dulwich, South London in 2002 and 2003

Richard outside his BL8 prefab, Redditch. Post-war prefabs in Redditch, UK 2003

Richard outside his BL8 prefab, Redditch. Post-war prefabs in Redditch, UK 2003

Graham Burton, outside his neighbour prefab, 2005. Post-war prefabs in Chesterfield and North Wingfield, Derbyshire, 2005

Graham Burton, outside his prefab, 2005, in Chesterfield 2005

Post-war prefabs at the Bishpool and Treberth Estates in Newport, Wales, 2003

Post-war prefabs at the Bishpool and Treberth Estates in Newport, Wales, 2003

In 2002, Minnie was outside in her garden when we were walking around the estate. So we stopped for a little chat and a cup of tea with her. She had been here since 1949. She told us her husband and her only paid £3 a week rent back in the 50s. 'I can't say anything bad about my prefab. We have been very happy here. We could get solid food out of the garden, there was a local shop and the milk- man still does his delivery. It has been 53years! There was a park for the children and I used to go dancing twice a week while my husband was going to the pub. Men went to the pub! ', Minnie remembers.

In 2002, Minnie was outside in her garden when we were walking around the estate. So we stopped for a little chat and a cup of tea with her. She had been here since 1949. She told us her husband and her only paid £3 a week rent back in the 50s. “I can’t say anything bad about my prefab. We have been very happy here,” Minnie recalls. “We could get solid food out of the garden, there was a local shop and the milk- man still does his delivery. It has been 53 years! There was a park for the children and I used to go dancing twice a week while my husband was going to the pub. Men went to the pub!”

A lady outside her AIROH prefab, 2012. Post-war prefabricated houses in Paisley, near Glasgow, Scotland

A lady outside her AIROH prefab, 2012. Post-war prefabricated houses in Paisley, near Glasgow, Scotland

There are post-war prefabs as far as Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis. Not that The Hebrides were bombed by the Germans but there was a serious housing shortage there in 1946. Homeless people had even started squatting the castle. I found out about the Isle of Lewis prefabs reading about the different types of post-war prefabs. I instantly thought I have to go and see them. A few years ago, I went on Lewis and Harris for the first time and fell in love with the place. I was stunned by its beauty, its dramatic landscapes and seascapes, the sea, the ocean, the space, the wind which I am sure can make you crazy... So, when I discovered the was an 'Isle of Lewis' prefab type, I had such a good excuse to jump on a flight to Glasgow then Stornoway.

There are post-war prefabs as far as Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis. Not that The Hebrides were bombed by the Germans but there was a serious housing shortage there in 1946. Homeless people had even started squatting the castle. I found out about the Isle of Lewis prefabs reading about the different types of post-war prefabs. I instantly thought I have to go and see them. A few years ago, I went on Lewis and Harris for the first time and fell in love with the place. I was stunned by its beauty, its dramatic landscapes and seascapes, the sea, the ocean, the space, the wind which I am sure can make you crazy… So, when I discovered the was an ‘Isle of Lewis’ prefab type, I had such a good excuse to jump on a flight to Glasgow then Stornoway.

Post-war prefabricated houses in Plasterfield, Stornoway, Isle of Lewis, Scotland. About 50 of them were built in 1947 as a response to the post-war housing shortage on Lewis. They were called the "Isle of Lewis type".

Post-war prefabricated houses in Plasterfield, Stornoway, Isle of Lewis, Scotland. About 50 of them were built in 1947 as a response to the post-war housing shortage on Lewis. They were called the “Isle of Lewis type”.

Post-war prefabs in Derbyshire, September 2012

Post-war prefabs in Derbyshire, September 2012

Bernard Dye showing his prefab album, Killarmarsh, North Derbyshire, 2012

Bernard Dye showing his prefab album, Killarmarsh, North Derbyshire, 2012

Bernard Dye in his prefab in Killarmarsh, January 2013

Bernard Dye in his prefab in Killarmarsh, January 2013

Woman in a prefab (uni-seco) garden with hen. A car is parked in the prefab garden. There is a row of uni-seco prefabs in the background.

Woman in a prefab (uni-seco) garden with hen. A car is parked in the prefab garden. There is a row of uni-seco prefabs in the background.

Inside St Mark's Church, Excalibur Estate, Catford, London

Inside St Mark’s Church, Excalibur Estate, Catford, London

Photo of the New St Mark's Church, nicknamed the "Prefab Church", Excalibur Estate, Catford, London

Photo of the New St Mark’s Church, nicknamed the “Prefab Church”, Excalibur Estate, Catford, London

A child being baptised at St Marks Church by a priest, a woman is watching

A child being baptised at St Mark’s Church by a priest, a woman is watching

Peter Ford outside his prefab in Abbots Gardens, Shrewsbury

Peter Ford outside his prefab in Abbots Gardens, Shrewsbury

John Chinery by his Dulwich prefab

John Chinery by his Dulwich prefab

After much coverage in the press and magazines, publication of my book Prefab Homes, and a solo show at Photofusion in 2013, I started to organise prefab tours in South London and created a museum dedicated to prefabs, The Prefab Museum, which aims to celebrate prefab life and build a unique national archive dedicated to prefabs.

For the last 15 years, I have been travelling all over the UK to document prefab life: I took pictures of prefabs’ residents in Wales, North Derbyshire, Suffolk, Scotland, Birmingham in the West Midlands and even in the Outer Hebrides! Each travel is a new prefab adventure full of rich encounters. The stories prefab residents tirelessly repeat the same love and attachment for their “little castle”.