Prior to the end of WWII, the British Iron & Steel Federation worked closely with Architect Frederick Gibberd & Engineer Donovan Lee, to develop several steel framed prototype houses and flats, which could be erected quickly and efficiently with limited use of skilled labour.
These prototype were duly named BISF which is a acronym of the originating sponsor, The British Iron & Steel Federation.
However, it was in fact the newly formed company, British Steel Houses Ltd, that went on to develop and manufacturer the BISF houses we see today.
Over 34,000 three-bedroom semi-detached houses and 1048 Terraced Houses were erected across England, Scotland and Wales.
The final production design incorporated rendered mesh ground floor walls and the now familiar, profiled steel sheeting panels affixed to the upper storey. The preferred roofing material was generally corrugated asbestos cement, or corrugated metal sheeting.
The frame of the prototype ‘B’ house was of the same general design as the type ‘A’ frame, but fabricated from flat light steel sections.
The roof trusses were also of light steel sections and the roof cladding was the same as that used in the type A house.
Both prototypes had been designed to accept a variety of external wall materials, including traditional brick masonry if desired.
The external steel cladding that was affixed to the upper storey of the original BISF house appears visually similar to the external cladding that was used during the production of the unrelated Hawksley BL8 temporary bungalow.
This visual similarity caused many people to wrongly assume that the BISF House was a semi-detached version of the temporary bungalow, despite the fact that the BISF House was built as a permanent dwelling.
The vast majority of BISF houses were built as two-storey semi-detached pairs. A smaller number of terraced houses were also built by replicating the standard semi-detached frame.
A number of variations relating to the layout and materials used in the construction of this house have been noted, but in all cases, the original construction, design & construction of the steel framework, remains largely as described.
The area in Wythenshawe where the BISF houses were built, is known locally and colloquially as Tin Town.
Here are the homes in 1955.
Here are the homes in 1972.
JF Hughes Local Image Collection
In 2012 we visited the home of former Durutti Column drummer Bruce Mitchell.
Bruce in Greater Mancunians.
Owen Hatherley wrote about this White Bus Tour in The Guardian – at the behest of Richard Hector-Jones.
New residents were given the choice of an apple or cherry tree for their back gardens.
Here are the photographs I took in November 2021.
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