Heat wave reveals traces of forgotten World War 2 houses

Last summer’s heat wave revealed traces of World War 2 houses in the village of Elsecar and this has now inspired an exciting new research project. 

Based on the discoveries from last year’s unusually hot weather, a team of researchers are now investigating a row of forgotten post-war prefab houses on Millhouses Street, Hoyland - now the Milton Forge playing field, and would love to hear from the people who lived in them.

After the end of the Second World War, over 150,000 prefabricated houses – known affectionately as prefabs - were built across the UK in an attempt to solve the severe post-war housing crisis. They became a common sight in the 1940s and 50s, but most have now disappeared.

The Milton prefabs were demolished in the late 1960s, and had been all but forgotten. However, during the very dry weather last summer clear outlines of these lost houses appeared as parch marks on the field. Students from the University of Leeds School of Earth and Environment are now working with Barnsley Museums staff to investigate and record the site using up-to-date technology, including Ground Penetrating Radar.

The team would love to hear from anybody who remembers the prefabs – particularly anybody who lived in them, or who visited friends and family who did. They are keen to hear more about the spaces inside, and what is was like to live in them during the 1950s and 60s.

The initial survey will take place on Thursday, 7 February with a drop-in event taking place at the Furnace Pub on Milton Road afterwards, from 6pm-8pm. Local residents are invited to come down to find out more about the project and other work taking place in the area.

The project is being supported by the Elsecar Heritage Action Zone, a three year partnership between Barnsley Museums and Historic England.

Dr Tegwen Roberts, Heritage Action Zone Project Officer, said:

It was amazing to see the outline of the prefab houses appear on the playing field over the summer. It was an unexpected find, but it sparked a lot of memories for local people, so we’re really excited to have the chance to do more work on them and to celebrate this forgotten piece of Milton’s history.