Built in an emergency programme by the Ministry of Works, more than 200,000 were flung up in haste after WWII to house blitzed-out families and returning servicemen and women.
They were supposed to last no more than ten years but many established a hold over families, especially the snug bungalow versions whose hot water, bathrooms and separate kitchenettes were novel luxuries for their tenants.

Smiths Villas, Wardley 1949

Prefabs, Bottom of The Drive, Felling

Four 'Airey houses' from Coltspool at Kibblesworth in Gateshead are to be reconstructed at Beamish. Much less appealing superficially than the bungalow version, these were mostly two-storey semis with a metal skeleton made from the recycled frames of military vehicles clad in slats of greyish-brown concrete.


It’s more than a year since the four prefabricated Airey Houses in Kibblesworth escaped the wreaking ball days after being vacated by tenants in Coltspool where they’d stood the test of time as family homes for more than 50 years. After being painstakingly deconstructed, packed up and transported a few miles down the road to County Durham the vacant homes will once again be filled with people when they form the basis for the new 1950s era at Beamish. Revealing its plans for the next two years bosses at the museum hope to start on their latest ‘brought to life’ era by 2015. The houses, which will be open to the public like those already seen in the museum’s Edwardian pit village, will star in a 1950s town along with a cinema, aged miners’ houses, community centre, garage and football pitch. A spokesman for Beamish said: “The houses were loaded on to pallets and transported to Beamish. Here they have been carefully stored until work begins on a new 1950s area, when they will be rebuilt as part of a typical north eastern post-war urban development. “These four dwellings had been recently vacated and were due for demolition, when The Gateshead Housing Company offered the whole block to Beamish. The museum was delighted to accept and appointed Compass Developments (NE) Limited to dismantle the houses and transport them to Beamish. “We got all of the houses safely to Beamish and they’re now waiting, in storage, to be rebuilt in the 1950s area which is part of our long-term development and engagement plan.” Constructed in large numbers at the end of the Second World War, an Airey house is a prefabricated building often used as a temporary replacement for housing destroyed by bombs. Designed by Sir Edwin Airey they featured a frame of prefabricated reinforced concrete columns covered with a series of concrete panels. Although only meant to be a temporary measure many Airey houses were lived in for decades and a small number remain in use more than 70 years later.

One bedroomed prefab bungalow in Chopwell

The modern prefab... BoKlok from IKEA
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     The Felling Heritage Group