In the aftermath of WWII, more than 156,000 prefabricated houses were built across the UK to rehouse soldiers coming back from the front. They were called ‘prefabs’ and nicknamed ‘palaces for the people’, as they were modern, comfortable, detached homes – a luxury for many at the time.
Thousands of prefabs were built right here in the heavily bombed capital, some by German and Italian prisoners of war. Although they were supposed to last just a decade, more than 100 still stand on the Excalibur Estate in Catford.
I’ve spent several years photographing and writing about these flat-roofed little bungalows, many of which are now being boarded up and pulled down as part of a regeneration project. Residents have been fighting to save them from demolition, but after more than 70 years, the days of London’s historic prefab estate could finally be numbered. Elisabeth Blanchet
‘Prefabs: A Social and Architectural History’ by Elisabeth Blanchet and Sonia Zhuravlyova is published by Historic England.