The Prefab Files navigation Setting the scene The prefabs go up in Bath Twilight falls on the prefabs The end of an era A salute to the prefabs Historical archive A panoramic view of the Twerton prefabs Contact

A Salute To The Prefabs

Taking the residents out of the prefabs was a straightforward affair. Demolishing the prefabs posed few logistical problems. However, taking the prefabs out of the residents turned out to be a shade trickier. A yearning to return had been buried deep in the psyche. One day it will explode into the daylight as a forest of glorious sunflowers.

Even today the elusive presence of the prefabs can sometimes be felt. It peers over shoulders, brushes against coat sleeves, queries acts of bad faith, tugs at ex-prefab dwellers' thoughts and leaves a scent of consolation for those who find ourselves adrift in more evasive times.

Not a single prefab has been preserved in the city of Bath. Visitors travel from across the globe to see its Roman remains and the Georgian Crescents. Yet for one brief and forgotten moment this was also a city of prefabs. No hint of this fragment of history appears in any of the city's museums and art galleries. No curator has ever mounted an exhibition of prefab photographs. No novelist ever explored prefab estate life. No film or television cameras were turned towards this unfashionable terrain. Here was a Brideshead unvisited.

On March 13th, 1944, Arthur Evelyn St John Waugh wrote these words to Lady Dorothy Lygon:

"I am writing a very beautiful book to bring tears, about very rich people, beautiful high born people who live in palaces and have no troubles except what they make themselves and these are mainly the demons of sex and drink, which after all are easy to bear as troubles go nowadays."

No book about prefabs ever brought tears to anyone's eyes. These people were rich in a different way from those in Mr Waugh's book. Here - on a crumbling ledge in a margin of memory - we salute them!