The Woolaway Bungalows

Two survivors in Orwell of the Government's answer to the post-war housing shortage

By Sue Miller

When the Second World War ended Britain faced an acute housing shortage. Almost a quarter of the nation's homes had been damaged or destroyed by bombing (See London Blitz map, for example) and many people, especially in rural areas, were living in what was considered to be sub-standard accommodation.  Acting on a plan envisaged by Sir Winston Churchill the Government committed £150 million to the construction of at least 300,000 new homes, many of which were to be prefabricated.

A North Devon building firm, Woolaway & Sons, was one of the many companies that undertook to make the kits for these new houses. While most of them were intended to have only a very short life, the 'Woolaways' were designed to be occupied for at least sixty years and the two that survive in Orwell have almost achieved that now.

Photo:Woolaway bungalow at 31 Town Green Road

Woolaway bungalow at 31 Town Green Road

The Miller family, of Grove and Manor Farms, built four Woolaway bungalows here in the 1950s and found them very quick to erect in just six weeks. The first, in Leaden Hill, was to house family members, as was 31 Town Green Road. The others, at Fisher's Lane and Grove Farm, were accommodation for farm employees. Only 31 Town Green Road and Fisher's Lane survive and are still providing comfortable homes for their owners, despite recent government criticism of their construction. A fifth Woolaway was built on Hillside; please can anyone can give us more information on its ownership and survival ?

This page was added by Sue Miller on 28/05/2013.
Comments about this page

my father had a woolaway bungalow built in the early 1960s it is now for sale due to both parents passing on. iam not a builder and after having a good look into the construction of this woolaway I can not find anything to be worried about. everything you read about this type of building seems to me to be based on the fact it is a prefab, if only people would take a few minutes to do some research they would find woolaway bungalows even though they are a pre fab to look at are not rated by quite a lot of mortgage companies and you can get a very good rate on one. I put a key safe on my fathers place for his carers to get in, I managed to straighten a black and decker new masonry drill bit I have showed this drill to others and nobody has ever seen anything like it, this was only the second hole the bit had been used on the first was the other hole  drilled, I was only using a b and d 14.4volt hammer drill. I do not know why there is such a fuss regarding woolaway bungalows. they had oil fired heating and we  found out they used no more oil than a brick built bungalow a few doors away. dad used to check his oil usage against this bungalow and they were never far away from each other they used to buy oil at the same time along with a couple more to get a cheaper price on the oil. they all used about 1000 litres give or take a few dads was not the worst user even though mum and dad were in there 80s and felt the cold as do most pensioners in there 80s. they had an extension built and dad being dad went around at night when the builders went home with a  set square spirit level checking that nothing had moved he was very pleased with all of his findings.

By stephen gutteridge
On 31/03/2020

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