Friday, 29 August 2014

The temporary prefab museum needs your help!

The Prefab Museum has won a reprieve from closure. The Prefab Museum, Britain’s only museum to document post-war prefabricated housing, is curated by Elisabeth Blanchet, a French photographer. However the museum is not funded and is under threat of temporary closure due to lack of money while the outcome of funding applications is awaited.

To support the museum, its work and volunteers, please donate via our Kickstarter campaign:

For more information, please see

The wonder of these ‘prefabs’ is that they were meant to last just 10 years to alleviate a post-war housing shortage but people really fell in love with them and have been fighting tooth and nail to make sure that they remain living in them. With the help of the Arts Council, Elisabeth has been photographing both residents and their homes and collecting their stories for more than a decade. 

The biggest remaining prefab estate is Excalibur in Catford, South London, where Elisabeth has been lent an empty prefab to create a Prefab Museum about the history of the estate and prefabricated living. The museum features her photography and documentary film, as well as the work of other artists who are interested in prefabs. 

The museum has attracted more than 2,000 visitors to the area so far – and much like the prefabs themselves, popular opinion has ensured that the museum, which started as a temporary initiative, has now been approved by Lewisham Council and will remain in place until at least 2017. 

The same cannot be said for the prefab homes on Excalibur. Of 186, more than 30 have already been knocked down to make space for redevelopment. Despite campaigns by their residents, the prefabs are slowly losing their battle for survival so Elisabeth is determined to record this part of our social and architectural history for posterity. 

The Prefab Museum is the focal point around which we organise historical tours around the estate and it is always staffed by knowledgable volunteers and residents who have popped in for a cup of tea and a chat. The Prefab Museum is a unique experience where visitors stay longer than they have planned to, share ideas and stories, come out inspired and often come back! 

The Prefab Museum is part of Open House weekend (20/21 September) and we anticipate an influx of visitors!

Some comments from visitors: 

‘Thank you for taking the time to put on this exhibition. It has been a very emotional experience and brings many happy memories.’

 ‘A real piece of British post-war history. We are privileged to see this remainder (and reminder!).’

The Prefab Museum is open every Saturday from 11am to 5pm. 

17 Meliot Road, Catford, SE6 1RY, London

Here are our Autumn events:

Opening Times:

Saturdays 11:00 -17:00 till 01/11/2014
Every other Saturday 11:00-16:00 from 01/11/2014 till 28/02/2015

Groups welcome by appointment

Autumn Events:

Open House Weekend 20/09 and 21/09 10:00-17:00 

Excalibur Estate Tour 18/10 from 14:30
Launch of Elisabeth Blanchet’s book Prefab Homes 25/10 from 14:30 

Mystery Tour 31/10 from 18:00
Excalibur Estate Tour 15/11 from 14:30
Knick-Knack Tea Party 29/11 from 13:00
Christmas Party 13/12 from 13:00

New Whitefoot Community Gardens

In a lovely location on a hillside in Oldstead Road with views towards Crystal Palace and Forest Hill, a new community garden emerges.

Whitefoot & Downham Community Food + Project was awarded funding from Phoenix Community Chest in June 2014 to set up a community garden. The project will see local residents and users/volunteers of the Community Food Plus Project in Whitefoot building and cultivating a community garden on an existing allotment site at Oldstead Road. It will include volunteer days, healthy cooking sessions, social events, and skills training for young Phoenix residents.

Whitefoot & Downham Community Food + Project is a voluntary community based project to support people or families who are experiencing hardship and issues relating to poverty. More details about the project here.
Councillor Janet Daby, Chair of the Whitefoot & Downham Community Food + Project

On Friday 1st August Ruth Webber from Downham Nutrition Partnership and I attended the inaugural day of the community garden. The sun was shining and everyone, young and old, was busy filling and planting up the raised beds, putting together the greenhouse and generally having a lovely time.

Large raised beds being filled and planted by enthusiastic volunteers!
Alex raking the soil prior to planting
Janet, Margaret and Stuart having fun with the hose
Imogen offering a big pot of blackberries to Ruth
Imogen helping to plant

Are you a local person, group or organisation that would like to be involved in a new community garden in Whitefoot Ward, helping local people to learn about food growing and gardening?

Andrew and Jackie fill up the raised beds
Lucy shows the children a frog!
Sally Ann sorting out the hanging baskets in front of the 'homestead'
Group photo complete with wheelbarrows
If you would like to get involved please get in touch with the Project Co-ordinator Tony Rich on 07905 164 705 or email