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Thursday, 1 February, 2001, 03:46 GMT
Pebble-dashing: A new front for politics

pebble-dashing, n, architectural; latest target for political strategists: • style of home decoration where the façade of a house is rendered with many thousands of tiny stones.

ORIGINS: A cheap alternative to stone and rock textured roughcast pioneered by the Arts and Crafts movement (1861-1930s), pebble dashing became popular in the 1920s. Common before 1990s as home "improvement", (although too common for conservationists, and too common by half for urban aesthetes.) Nearly impossible to remove, hence still widely seen.

"Ineffably suburban and ineffably untrendy," according to architecture writer Hugh Pearman.

RARELY USED BY: estate agents who, knowing authentic brick-frontages are more desirable, conveniently overlook any slight pebbling effect when describing properties.

CURRENT USAGE: pebbledash people are the latest social stereotype (related to: Mondeo man, Worcester woman, Florida family, Basildon man, Sierra man; US relative: soccer mom) to draw the attention of political strategists. Thought to be Tories' paradigm target voter, numbering 2.5 million in 178 target seats. Derives from "pebbledash subtopia", one of 52 postcode categories employed by market research specialists Experian. Average household income: £25,000; likely to read Daily Mail; not very neighbourly; keen on DIY.

NOT TO BE CONFUSED WITH: 1. stone cladding which is seen as an even greater violation of the urban vista.

NOT TO BE CONFUSED WITH: 2. pebble-dashing the big white telephone


Reader Chris McKenna adds: I grew up on a council estate in Scotland in the 1970s where every house was pebble-dashed. In fact it was impossible to find brick-faced houses in any part of Scotland. I don't know the reasons for it (In the Crow Road, Iain Banks suggests it was because Scottish bricks were of such poor quality). However, it was a ubiquitous feature of Scottish architecture and not some middle-class affectation


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