A History of Preston in Hertfordshire
Swedish Houses, Chequers Lane
Swedish timber-framed houses: Nos. 15 and 16 Chequers Lane, Preston
Swedish timber-framed houses: Nos. 19 - 24 Chequers Lane, Preston
After World War Two, Britain embarked on an emergency programme to quickly replace homes that had been destroyed during the war - ‘Churchill’s Temporary Housing Programme’. It was the age of the ‘pre-fabs’ - temporary homes, many of which are still inhabited today, more than sixty years later. Included in this construction plan were less than 3,000 timber-built homes which were imported during 1945/46 from Sweden as ‘flat-packs’, to be erected on site. Ten of these were erected as council houses on the west side of Chequers Lane, Preston.
Timber-framed ‘flat-pack’ houses stored on the quayside and in warehouses.
Six Swedish houses, in various stages of assembly.
These ‘factory homes’ were the gift of the Swedish government because of Britain’s support during the war. They were supplied in sections using ultra-tough Baltic pine. In Spartan post-war Britain, they were a sensation - fireplaces in every room; fitted wardrobes in every bedroom. Many sprang up in rural settings - as an inducement to village dwellers to stay put, rather than be seduced by life in towns. They had a minimum life-span of over 150 years, but out of 2,444 built, only about half remain. They are snug and warm - being insulated by a buttercup-yellow natural felt made from sheep’s wool. Trust the Swedes to provide efficient means of combating the cold! Most DIY jobs can be completed using a hammer and nails. Their unique place in twentieth century architectural and social history is such that English Heritage is seeking to list some, as forerunners of modern ecological housing. The sense of light and spaciousness, warmth and sturdiness has encouraged many to choose to continue living in them - as can be seen from the small turnover of residents in the following list. In 1995, a Swedish house at Chequers Lane sold for £65K and ten years later, in 2005, another sold for £285K.
Occupants of the Swedish Houses: 15 - 24 Chequers Lane, Preston
15 - 1951 Jack and Margaret P Meadows; 1965 with Ruth Meadows; 1981 Margaret Meadows only; 1991 Kevin J and Ann C Cadd 16 - 1951 Annie G Harper; 1956 John H and Enid J Yallop; 1971 with Martin D Yallop; 1981 and 1991 Leonard C and Regina A Grosvenor-Brown 17 - 1951 Ernest and Violet Jenkins; 1991 John and Marion P Gallacher 18 - 1951 Arthur, William and Dorothy Marlow; 1961 Arthur Marlow only; 1965 Arthur E and Lilian M Marlow; Malcolm D and Margaret A Newell; 1981 Valerie Rivenell. 19 - 1951 Reginald (machine setter) and Violet Kimber; 1971 with David J, Gloria J, Regina A Kimber; 1981 Reginald T, David J Thomas S and Violet M Kimber; 1991 David J, Reginald and Violet Kimber 20 - 1951 William A and Harriet Chalkley; 1971 William Chalkley only; 1991 John W and Linda ER Woodhams 21 - 1951 Douglas (dairy worker) and Winifred A Salisbury; with Robert J and Susan K Salisbury; Douglas M Jacqueline R, Robert R and Winifred A Salisbury; 1991 Douglas M, Winifred A and Robert Salisbury. 22 - 1951 William Frederick (agricultural worker/refuse collector) and Monica Walker; 1981 with Leslie F Walker 23 - 1951 William (quality control engineer) and Patricia Reid; 1971 with Peter W and Philip Reid; Donald A, Patricia E and William Reid; 1991 Raymond K Williams and Janet M Regan 24 - 1951 Paul E and Alison M Murray; 1961 Paul E Murray; 1971 Alec R and Joy B Bond
Jack and Margaret Meadows
Jack Meadows moved to Preston as a young lad. He married Margaret P Fox in the summer of 1942 and the couple moved to Preston shortly afterwards. They had two children, Ruth and Peter. Jack was a familiar face locally as he drove the school bus between Hitchin and Breachwood Green in the 1960s. He also served on Preston Parish Council. Margaret was a verger at St Martins and Chairman of the Preston Village Society
John and Marion Gallacher
Writes Marion Gallacher: John Gallacher and I were holding managers at the Red Lion from August 1980 until December 1982. The villagers were in discussions as to what to do with the pub at this time. Sadly, Whitbreads in their infinite wisdom, moved us out in the December to run the Adam & Eve in Hitchin and would not permit us to stay over the Christmas and New Year with our friends in the Red Lion. While John and I were running the Red Lion we got married and had our son Stewart - an original Prestonite born April 1982. It was a sad day when John and I left the Red Lion, we visited frequently and returned to the village in March 1987; frequenting the Red Lion yet again.
The Swedish Houses in the 1980s