Tin House

From Historical Hastings

There were two phases/sites of pre-fabricated 'Tin Houses' in Hastings; One in the inter-war period which consisted of steel and were located on the site of Broomgrove House. The others were post-WW2 and intended to house those displaced by bombing etc during WW2.


Tin houses on Bristol Road in Hollington

Through 1929 into the 1930s there was a organisation in Hastings named the Y. M. C. A. Town Council which had elected councillors, Town Clerk,deputy Town Clerk, Transport Committee, Public Health Committee etc. who it seems debated and passed resolutions on all manner of public issues almost in parallel to what was going on in the Council itself. During a debate on the Housing Problem in 1929 it discussed a proposal to build 50 homes at Broomgrove, 50 at and 60 at and the resolution "authorised" (the quotation marks are from the Observer article) at a cost of £500 each with a rent set at 12/- a week that could be afforded by those of low incomes of £2-10s to £3 per week. Cllr Sadler stressed the need for direct labour to be used and bulk buying of materials to minimise costs "and quoted "a case in Manchester where from £250 to £290 had been saved per house". Cllr L A J Glyde "pointed out that there would be 5s rates in addition to the rent that would be prohibtive for the type of people they wished to live in the houses" Cllr Sadler said "If you admit that people cannot afford to live in these houses then conditions must be bad". "Perhaps Cllr Glyde has overlooked the fact that the cost of living in Hastings is lower than it is in other towns". Cllr Miss Major outlined a scheme of community living for women in London where "each person has their own room communal wash house, dining room and kitchen" Cllr Sadler urged the Council to consider the overcrowding that existed saying "the sordid surroundings which has been erected by man can be abolished by man". The scheme was approved nem com.


During the inter-war period, with many local jobs available, the forerunner of the Broomgrove council estates was built. But these were extraordinary houses: they were made of steel. ‘Tin Town’ as it was widely known was the new Fellows Road and Clement Hill Road, plus the west side of the existing Upper Broomgrove Road. The old house of Broomgrove, from which the area drew its name, was demolished to make way for them. The steel houses were very cold in the winter, with frost and damp on the inside as well as outside, and were exceptionally hot - like an oven, it was said - in the summer months. They were replaced in the early 1960s by the more conventional houses that stand there today.[1]


View of prefabricated houses in Hollington 1970s

After the war, Hastings was allocated 80 of the post-WWII prefabricated houses. By the end of October 1947 the aluminium “prefabs” were being erected in Bristol Road & Coventry Road at the rate of one per hour.

These temporary bungalows, incorporating such luxuries as fridges and solid fuel stoves, had a predicted lifespan of 5 to 10 years but only stood on the site for fifteen, by which time the cast iron sewage pipes had rotted away and water was running through holes in the ground.

Work throughout the summer of 1947 on the general building of houses in Hastings had been delayed by union disputes. At that time there were 1,864 families on the Hastings and St Leonards housing waiting list. As a stop-gap many local families shared accommodation with other homeless in requisitioned buildings, living in the faded splendour of once-gracious Victorian villas. [2]

There were also temporary 'Portacabin' style homes on the waste ground behind the Bathing Pool.

References & Notes

  1. https://hastingschronicle.net/features/poor-valley/
  2. Hastings Bygones published by Hastings Local History Group, Social Housing in Hastings by Mary Roberts.