Monday, 21 April 2008

Ingatestone: Prefabs

This photo was taken during the school summer holiday in August 1979 off of the path that links Norton Road to The Meads. After the Second World War there was a shortage of housing so pre-fabricated buildings were erected. The last group of these were demolished at the time when this photo was taken. The site was unbuilt to the north of Norton Road. Pemberton Avenue, as it became known, was only a few houses off of the Fryerning Lane. I remember an elderly lady telling me that at that time one could stand at the top of Norton Road and have a clear view across the countryside to Fryerning Church. I recall that this was one of the last prefabs inhabited. I never went inside one of them but understand that they were quite spacious. At the time I took very few photographs because the cost of processing was relatively expensive but thought that it was important to record the changes taking place in what was my home ‘village’. It was to be almost three years until the land, and a Civic Amenity Site the other side of the road, was redeveloped: ‘The Meads Estate’ was 63 council houses built by Brentwood District Council. It was the last large-scale development in Ingatestone and virtually the last Council Houses to be newly constructed in the area.


sean bone said...

Andrew, this is so amazing seeing these pictures. I live in Meads Close and trying to pin point the exact location of the prefab picture you took, i am assuming it is where the garages are now in Meads Close car park, facinating, always wanted to see what they looked like!

Andrew Smith said...

Thanks Sean for your comment and question. The new (1982) Council Houses on the Meads estate were built on the site occupied by prefabricated homes and a Civic Amenity Site, which bordered the west side of the existing houses in the cul-de-sac opposite 17 (or thereabouts) The Meads. The prefabs were situated on either side of the road to the east side of Meads Close (i.e. opposite side to Christy Hall). The photograph from 1979 was probably the last one occupied. It was taken from the doorway of the empty prefab opposite looking down and unkempt garden and across a footpath (street light on left) to view the place opposite. The footpath bisected the area west to east from the existing public footpath between Norton Road and Meads Close, to Meads Close. So these were not on the existing garage site. To my memory there was only one footpath running through the prefab site with little bungalows either side of the footpath. The back gardens, as such, bordered The Meads. This was the same arrangement on the other side of the road. When I was very young - probably walking by them on the way from the Junior School to the Church for an assembly with Canon Hudson - I was puzzled by the vegetables grown in the gardens by the road and thought that these might be allotments with large potting sheds! The area is an interesting lesson on Council House building. The run of houses along Meads Close south of the Christy Hall (built I think in 1937)were pre War, as were those at the other far end (the concrete clad ones) in The Meads. The gap between, which was certainly open fields through to Fryerning Church according to a 1932 Ordnance Survey map, must have been filled with prefabs immediately after the Second World War. The earliest Council Houses were built (c. 1920) in Fryerning Lane to the south of Disney Close, and I believe Disney Close itself was pre-War. Pemberton Avenue was built in three stages. Those nearest to Fryerning Lane are 1930s. 10 Pemberton Avenue had, I think, the same tenant until the 1990s. I used to work for Brentwood Council and was told that the rooms had the original picture rails. I quipped that perhaps English Heritage should take on the property. I am sure there is much more to write but hopefully all this is of use and interest.