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Wednesday, 28 November, 2001, 15:31 GMT
Prefab preservation 'madness'
Prefabs in Bristol English Heritage are hoping to preserve
The two types of prefabs in Bristol to be preserved
Attempts by English Heritage to preserve a set of post-war "prefabs" has been described as madness by housing officials.

The conservation group wants 19 prefabs in Bristol to be given Grade II listed status.

Housing officers at the city council said the homes posed a danger, because they were made of asbestos, and were too expensive to maintain.

English Heritage claims the houses are of great historical importance because they form one of only two sets remaining in the country.

Demolition plans

The conservation body wants to preserve two types of prefab by using the listed status orders.

One is the arcon variety, which was the first prefab built on a commercial scale with 38,000 made, and the later phoenix model of which 2,000 were constructed.

Both are six-room houses and were built between 1944-45.

Two of the homes, proposed for preservation, are due to be demolished as part of the city council's programme of up-dating its housing stock.

Exterior of one of the Bristol prefabs
The Bristol prefabs have their orignal fittings
Councillor Celia Lukins, executive member for housing, said: "These homes are no longer economic to repair and thermal insulation is poor.

"Many of the prefabs are made of asbestos cement which is deteriorating and needs removing.

"It is complete madness to force us to keep so many of them when this will pose a maintenance problem, a financial burden and ongoing difficulties for our tenants."

The two prefabs on the English Heritage list, in Blackswarth Road, St George, are part of 60 the authority plans to replace with bungalows this year.

Prefab centre

Elain Harwood, inspector of historical buildings for English Heritage, said a large number of prefabs were built in Bristol because of the many munitions workers employed in the city during the World War II.

"Bristol is the prefab centre of the country," she said.

"The homes in Bristol are of some of only a few left in the country with original fixtures and fittings and they are of a type not found elsewhere in the country.

"Prefabs are part of a great historical movement in Britain and are indicative of the times."

Preservation demand

"Three or four years ago we got more requests to look at preserving prefabs than any other 20th Century building," she said.

A set of prefabs has already been listed in Hall Green, Birmingham, at the request of the city council.

"We will work with Bristol City Council to find a solution, if we can't then the buildings will have to come down but our experience in Birmingham is that we can come up with a workable solution," she said.

There are 236 arcon prefabs in Bristol and 52 of the phoenix type.

A spokesman for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, which will consider the application, said: "We are in the middle of a process of public consultation about the proposals so we can't make any comment at the moment.

"The views of the council will no doubt be taken into account when a decision is made in the New Year."

Click here to go to Bristol
See also:

14 Sep 01 | Wales
Museum revives prefab spirit
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