The Excalibur Prefab Estate, Catford, London
The Excalibur Prefab Estate, Catford, London, SE6.

After the Second World War, 150,000 prefabricated houses (prefabs) were built across Britain. Created to host homeless families with young children, these “palaces for the people” as they were called at the time were synonymous not only to comfort and luxury but also to freedom. The Excalibur Estate in Catford south east London is still one of the largest estates of prefabs.

The 187 prefabs on this estate were erected in 1946-47, by German and Italian prisoners of war. They were interim house, a solution to the housing stock shortage after the end of the 2nd World War.

The prefabs were expected to last between 10 and 15 years. They are still standing after 60 years.

There have been many attempts over the years by Lewisham Council to redevelop the site.

Again the prefabs are under threat of being demolished. I have been back to the estate and been should around by Jim Blackender, to see how the residents are fighting on.

Jim writes;

My name is Jim Blackender I am a tenant on the Excalibur Prefab Estate Catford SE6 1RP, a very unique Historic Estate,
As tenants we are trying to highlight the difficulties we are having trying to save our historic estate
from the bulldozers
The Decent Homes Standard has given councils the golden opportunity to write off vast amounts of housing stock as non decent and transfer their stocks to housing associations who build in its place high density housing estates.

The Excalibur Prefab Estate is the largest of its kind now left in Europe.
Europe values its war time history, we on the estate think it’s time we did too.

Stock Transfer. Whether stock transfer will go ahead on the Excalibur prefab estate will depend on a ballot of the tenants of this estate.

The Ballot is due in April 2008. But we have been told by Lewisham council (in writing) if we vote yes, the stock will be transferred to London & Quadrant, and the estate will be demolished, and if we vote no to stock transfer, the estate will be put forward for a regeneration scheme, Lewisham council will select a housing association of its choice, and the estate will be demolished, so not really a choice at all is it?
Just a greedy grab for land, what happened to democracy?

A grab for land and a multi- million pound deal will be done -at the expense of our history.

English Heritage has submitted an application to the Department of culture media and sports recommending a grade two listing of the Excalibur estate.
But things seem to take so long, I worry this estate will be demolished before the DCMS makes it decision.
Also there is no guarantee that the DCMS will list the estate, could be a conflict of interests; after all they are part of the same government that introduced this so called opportunity, we will have to see how independent they really are.
If the London borough of Lewisham has it way this Historic estate will no longer exist, and in its place will be another inner city housing estate, and another piece of history gone forever.

See Excalibur Prefab Estate site here

Also see Nothing To See Here feature.
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