The Excalibur Estate

The Excalibur Estate in Catford in South East London, is Britain’s largest and last surviving post-war prefab estate, situated approximately ten miles from Central London. It consists of 187 council and privately owned pre-fabricated homes built by Italian and German prisoners of war between 1945 and 1946 to house returning servicemen and their families. For many years, a long and bitter battle between the residents and the local Lewisham council has continued over the future of the estate. The council would like to develop the 12 acre site, replacing the prefabs with up to 400 new modern homes. The residents continue to fight against the move however, and with the help of English Heritage hope to give a Grade II listing to the war time single storey dwellings, preserving a way of life that has continued here for almost 70 years. To date the government has agreed to safe guard just six of them, with St Marks Church, also a prefab building, with it’s Anderson shelter-style roof also saved, as it lies on diocesan land. Apart from slight modifications, the estate today remains virtually unchanged. Some residents have added new doors and windows, painted walls, put in new windows. Some have even given their home mock-Tudor makeovers, or added fake beams to the outside. What remains though is the sense of community, a rare thing in today’s modern society, and something the residents of the Excalibur estate in this quiet corner of London are prepared to fight for.

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