Made to measure ... MERSEYSIDE TALES.
Byline: Stephen Guy
FOR centuries, buildings were constructed using traditional materials such as wood, stone and brick often sourced nearby, giving towns and villages local identities.
The Industrial Revolution and the arrival of railways transformed manufacturing and transport, bringing big visual changes to many areas.
Materials could now be shifted to different locations, so that almost identical buildings were constructed in various locations.
Relatively cheap accommodation was provided in similar terraced houses around industrial and commercial areas. Factories and warehouses followed comparable designs using mass-produced materials. Steel and iron works produced huge numbers of girders and other features, some offthe-peg and others made to measure. The result was often very well constructed buildings and structures which became the hallmark of the Victorian age - many survive today.
Early prefabricated buildings were created for export to British colonies and other locations.
Segments were loaded on ships and assembled where local materials were not available. For example, several hundred buildings - many from Liverpool - were exported to Australia in 1853.
Two years later, a 1,000-patient prefabricated hospital was shipped from Britain to treat soldiers in the Crimean War.
Designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, it featured innovations in sanitation and ventilation, including a flushing toilet.
Liverpool led the world with the first prefabricated, pre-cast panelled apartment blocks, using a process invented by the visionary city engineer John Brodie.
London's Crystal Palace was a huge prefabricated building, leading to many others, including the Palm House, at Sefton Park.
Many seaside resorts used factory-made buildings on piers and promenades where large numbers of day-trippers and holidaymakers packed halls and arcades.
Southport's huge Winter Gardens, pictured on a tinted Edwardian postcard, incorporated many prefabricated features.
Built in 1874, the entertainment complex featured such attractions as a theatre, aquarium, zoo, promenades and halls sheltered under glass domes.
The Winter Gardens, one of the biggest buildings ever to grace an English seafront, was never a great commercial success. It was demolished in 1933. Victoria Gardens, in New Brighton, pictured on a 1914 card, boasted many ornate prefabricated structures.
Temporary housing to accommodate many people bombed out in the Second World War were known as prefabs.
Britain's largest prefab estate was at Belle Vale, south Liverpool, where 1,100 were put up - many survived until the 1960s.
My grandma, May Guy, and her younger daughter, Nell, lived in a prefab in Stonebridge Lane, Croxteth, in the early 1950s. Nell, right, above, is pictured with a friend on the back lawn.
The prefab featured many modern facilities such as a fridge, built-in ironing board and green bathroom suite.
| Stephen Guy chairs the historic Lowlands West Derby Community Centre. Details at www.lowlands.org.uk or 0151 226 5352.
May Guy's younger daughter, Nell, right, with a friend on the back lawn of her prefab home in Croxteth, in the 1950s
The Winter Gardens, in Southport; and, inset, Victoria Gardens, in New Brighton