Rebuilding After the War

In the 1950s, the Country was faced with the daunting tasks of replacing the bomb damaged houses, continuing the pre-war Slum Clearance Programme and restoring all the dilapidated properties which had been neglected during the war. Vast amounts of work were needed. Governments of both parties tackled the problem with vigour, sometimes successfully, sometimes not. Political parties vied with each other for numbers of new houses built.

1960s Marylands Road Flats

'Houses at all Costs' was the slogan. There was a blind faith that modern methods would solve everything and in this atmosphere, building experience which had been built up over centuries was jettisoned. Untested factory methods were introduced. Some parts were successful: some were disastrous failures. Slowly, over the years we learnt the perils of asbestos; of condensation within houses; flat roofs; saving money by getting rid of caretakers to blocks of flats and paying for it in vandalism; the fear in huge blocks where nobody had a personal space; shoddy workmanship by cowboys; inadequate supervision and downright greed. There was no end to the criticisms, but the houses and fiats were built and many people were very pleased.

Small areas of bomb damage were filled with low-rise blocks like those in Marylands Road. Their small scale and clean, simple lines fitted in well with the surrounding houses.

The Broadley Street 'Scissors' Flats, 1960s

The area to be rebuilt in Broadley Street was much larger than the small Marylands Road site. A complete block between Broadley Street and Church Street was replaced with a new estate that looked rather like the Marylands Road ones. The ground floor flats along Broadley Street have private gardens and small back additions to give some privacy. However, the flats are much more unusual than that. The ends of the blocks show that one side is taller than the other, but by only half a storey. These are Scissors Flats, built as X shaped cross-overs. This is an ingenious form of construction which we refer to in the books on Muswell Hill, Packington Square in Islington and elsewhere in London.


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Updated July 5, 2011