a quirky look at London Life

Prefab Museum pops up in Catford

See on Scoop.itHistorical London

Excalibur in the news:


Previous coverage:


Ursula O’Reilly Traynor‘s insight:

Elisabeth Blanchet is the curator of this prefab museum which opens in Catford in March. This is a unique opportunity to experience ‘prefab life’ in an actual prefab, as it would have been in the 1940s.

It will be both a celebration and a farewell as most of these Catford bungalows will be demolished later this year. That they continued to survive for so long is nothing short of a miracle. Built by German POWs in 1945/6, they were erected to provide post-war temporary housing for returning servicemen and their families. Intended to last a decade, those who lived in them for most of their lives lovingly considered them as palaces, because of the ‘mod cons’ they offered.
I have not yet visited the estate but by all accounts it is no longer the thriving community it once was. In the past few years, most of the residents have reluctantly left their dilapidating homes, in advance of the bulldozers. The homes might be lost but the memories will linger on, thanks to the determination of people like Elizabeth who,over the past decade has carefully documented the social history of the Excalibur estate through photograph and documentary film.

I have a special interest in prefabs. I lived in one in Northern Ireland, up to the age of 6. I have a few memories of that happy time spent in our cosy, lamplit, tin roofed home, with our own hens on a nearby strip of land; but it was a long time ago. I shall be going to the museum launch and hopefully to some of the other events. I am quite excited by the prospect of reliving some of the experience, and, more importantly, unlocking the door to many more details of a domestic life I once experienced and have forgotten. But most of all, I look forward to meeting fellow prefabbers and hearing their stories. Maybe I’m biased, because we have a connection, but I reckon they will turn out to be very spirited, special people.

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