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Council Housing - Southfields - Prefabs
Courtesy of the late Colin Bryant's Collection
by kind permission of Rushden Museum
Southfields

Ready for the inspection of the first completed prefabricated house at Rushden.
Inside a prefab Opening the prefab "show home"
The kitchen equipment has been perhaps the chief
interest of the women who have inspected the “show” bungalow—a prefab—at the Rushden Southfields estate during the last few days.
The chairman of the Urban Council (Coun. H. Waring) opens the door, and others in the picture are (left to right) Coun. J. T. Richardson,
Coun. T. W. Cox, Coun. A. F. Weale, Mr. B. W. Williams (acting clerk), Coun. J. E. Dicks,
Coun. J. E. George, and Coun. Mrs. Muxlow.
On the extreme right is Coun. F. Green.

Rushden Echo & Argus, 1st March 1946, transcribed by Kay Collins

Bungalow On View

THE first of the temporary bungalows being erected at Rushden was officially opened for public inspection on Saturday morning by the Chairman of the Rushden Urban District Council (Mr. H. Waring).

A few members of the public were present in extremely bad weather, and the ladies were greatly interested in the up-to-date equipment inside, particularly in the kitchen, where there is the cooker and washer, with space left for the refrigerator that is to come, and ample storage room.

Mr. Waring referred to the bungalow as the housewife's "paradise." Amongst other things he called attention to the heating of the bungalow ducts to each of the rooms from the one fire. With care on the part of the tenant, he said, the dwellings should be in as good condition as they were now in several years' time. Mr. Waring added that he hoped they would make their gardens as pleasant as possible.

Also present at the opening were the vice-chairman of the Council, Councillor J. George, with the chairman of the Housing Committee, Councillor J. F. Dilks, Councillor Mrs O. A. H. Muxlow and Councillors A. P. Weale, T. W. Cox, J. T. Richardson, P. Green and J. H. J. Paragreen.


The prefabs
This aerial photograph shows the extent of the prefabs, stretching away from Park Road towards the Cemetery.

The large building near the bottom left corner, is the School and Assembly room of the Old Baptist Church. This has now been converted to flats.


The Rushden Echo, 1st June 1962, transcribed by Jim Hollis

Bright Scheme for Rushden Prefabs - Colourful Bungalows

The drab grey prefabricated bungalows at Southfields, Park Road, Rushden, are being painted this week,pink, yellow and blue. There are more shocks in store for the residents, too; maroon and bright grey. A housewife smiled: “They’re making this into a holiday camp.”

The painting is the first to be done since the bungalows were built over ten years ago. The residents expected reasonably bright colours – but when the council painters arrived some were quite surprised.

Said Mrs. Kate Cudbertson, who lives at 71 Park Road: “We shall probably call this the ‘Blue Room’ in future, the colours are a bit too bright – but they are certainly better than the faded grey we are used to.”

Mrs. Cudbertson’s house (she has lived there for ten years) was one of the first to be painted. The houses next door are yellow and pink – and she suggested it would have been better to have them all the same colour.

Clashed

Another complaint: She found the colour scheme clashed with the recently installed drainpipes and spouts, which are green. “And our door will be a different colour as well,” she added.

Mrs. M. Mallard, of 3 Southfields, whose house will be painted shortly (the job is expected to be finished in eight weeks) commented: “I suppose we’ll get used to the colours, but they do seem rather bright.” She agreed that one colour for all the bungalows would have been an improvement.

Said another housewife: “I suppose we can’t complain, really – this is the first time these houses have been painted. I think anything is better than the grey we had before.”

Too Gay

“Those colours certainly would not have been my choice,” remarked a man whose house is next on the list. “But I don’t suppose there is anything we can do about it now.”

He added: “Most of us here are elderly, the colours are a bit too gay. I wouldn’t mind if the council spend a bit more time decorating the insides.”

Most of those interviewed felt that the colours were a definite improvement on the existing grey but it would perhaps take them a little time to get used to living in a pink, blue, yellow or maroon house.

The bright pastel shades were the idea of Urban Council surveyor Mr. W. J. Anker, who told us: “The scheme was approved by the housing committee. The houses at the moment are dull asbestos, so I chose these colours to overcome the drabness. They will probably weather down a bit.”

The residents are feeling blue just now – but it seems that fairly soon, when they become accustomed to the new colours, they may be in the pink.

An Appeal

Mrs. E. Irene Brereton, of 45 Southfields, has written to us with an appeal to other council house tenants: “Please help us. You, too, are in danger if the fever spreads. Do you want to live in a ‘Walt Disney fantasy’?”

She asks: “Could it be that the housing committee needs re-educating in the blending of colours? Whatever the reason for painting the houses like this, we hope they spare us the necessity of wearing sun glasses throughout the year.”

Mrs. Brereton thinks there might be an influx of visitors to Southfields – looking for the pot of gold at the rainbow’s end!

She adds: “The soft green or yellow colours we can endure, for they will not outshine the beauty of the trees and flowering shrubs with which we are surrounded.”

A woman in the first house to be painted pink told a reporter: “I rather like it. Perhapswe are a little too conservative at times, and would have preferred them all the same colour – but it is nice to have the estate brightened up a bit.”

The Rushden Echo, 8th June 1973, transcribed by Jim Hollis

‘The Council Have Let Us All Down’

the prefab
Mr Dick Darnell & wife Grace outside their home
“The council have let us down. They have let us all down.” Those are the words of Mr. Arthur Darnell, of 49 Southfields, Rushden. [caption says Mr Dick Darnell]

And he’s angry because he and his wife Grace will soon have to leave the prefab that has been their home for 28 years.

They and other residents of the Southfields prefabs have been given their marching orders by Rushden Urban Council, now that the council flats near the Hayden Road football ground are nearing completion.

The prefabs were built during the Second World War as temporary accommodation for a number of families nationwide.

The residents were told the dwellings were temporary and were only expected to be used for ten years at the most,

Well-Kept

The Darnells don’t want to leave the well-kept bungalow, with its garden, full of fruit trees and vegetables.

In addition, Arthur had a heart attack three years ago and is unable the climb stairs. This makes moving into a block of flats almost impossible.

If they had to move, Arthur and Grace would like to go to the bungalows for old people at Cherry Orchard, about a hundred yards down the road.

The council says that some of the prefabs are unfit, but according to Arthur that is the council’s fault.

“They weren’t built for old folks, but for Soldiers with young families coming back from the war. Old people find it hard enough to look after themselves, let alone a bungalow and garden as well.

“When the ownership of the prefabs changed from government to council 18 years ago, we and several others applied to buy them and brick them up. This idea was turned down. They have done this at Raunds,” Arthur said.

New Flats

“We’ve spent our life savings making the bungalow and garden decent and nice, and now we’re being thrown out. Why can’t the council select a few of the good prefabs and brick them up?”

The housing manager for Rushden Urban Council, Mr. Terry Horsfield said: “The new block of flats will have fifty dwellings and should be ready in about six months’ time. We like to fix them up where they want to go.

Nine times out of ten, they are housed where they want to be. During the six months, there will be some vacancies cropping up.”

Mr. Horsfield explained that no prefabs will be bricked up because they have outlived their useful life,” and added. “We shall go round and see them all.”


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