Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

The prefab model in the People’s Palace

It’s been a while since I last saw the model of a prefab in the People’s Palace and Winter Gardens.

Although the display case was there, I never seemed to arrive when the model was present, just a note apologising for its absence. I’m quite good at bad timing.

It’s been back for a while, and I’ve taken a few pics recently, but didn’t realise I was spending more time avoiding the camera shake and other problems that the low level of lighting on this model can bring. What I now realise I missed was the unusual presentation of the model, whereby the roof is open to reveal the interior, and a mirror has been placed to allow visitors to see the interior without having to hover over the top of the model or its case in order to see inside.

I’ve been standing (actually kneeling) too far back, which means the area revealed in the reflection is quite small.

Next time, I will have to remember this mistake and get closer, so that more of the interior is visible in the mirror (assuming some reason has not been found for the model to be absent when I do next manage to fall in the door).

Prefab Model Interior

Prefab Model Interior

You can still see most of the interior in the view below, but the wider shot – from an earlier visit – shows how much can disappear just by being a little further away.

Prefab Model

Prefab Model

The prefabs were produced as an answer to the postwar housing shortage, and factories, such as the Blackburn Aircraft Factory in Dumbarton, were switched from their wartime production role to that of prefab manufacture. There, they were referred to as The Aluminiums.

While they still required some preparatory work, including the laying of a concrete base and the provision of supplies, the prefab could be installed in as little as 35 minutes, according to the film below.


Click the image above for a short Pathé film.

There used to be a small housing estate nearby, which I recall thinking was a particularly neat and tidy place (even though I was just little), as it was made up entirely of the little single story prefabs. We had moved from a tenement to a bungalow, so I was already getting used to the low level building, but the prefabs were even lower.

I can’t remember when they were demolished, or even it happening, but once they were gone, a park was created on the ground they used to occupy.

The park was quite nice, and I can even recall some of the features as I used to cycle through it.

But, would you believe a chunk of it was sliced off, and became a small, ordinary, housing estate.

I suppose part of it was always on a ‘shakey nail’, given that it was originally land used for housing – part of it was probably always earmarked for a return to this purpose, but it was still poorly done, and amounted to little more than a line being drawn through the park. One side was left untouched, the other became roads and houses.

Thinking about it, I should walk the line and maybe get some pics. The council should be clearing up the winter mess from the park now, and the lack of greenery should make the line clearer. It should be possible to catch the former paths as they just come to an end where they were sliced off, and the road was just built over them.


I did go and get pics of the line later, see them here, in The lost part of Sandyhills Park.


March 29, 2014 - Posted by | Civilian, World War II | , ,


  1. I recall,as a boy in Carnoustie in the 1940’s the arrival of the prefabs. It seems to me that they were covered externally with greyish coloured sheets of asbestos. These houses were a great topic of conversation with the adults as well as with kids at school. In the playground we had a chant:

    Down in the jungle
    Living in a tent,
    Better than a Prefab
    No rent.


    Ralph Hislop


    Comment by Ralph | March 30, 2014

  2. I moved to a Carnoustie prefab (75 Wallace Street) in the 1950s and remember being pleasantly surprised by indoor toilet, bath and, especially, a gas fridge. After gas-lit rented accommodation in Kinloch Street with a range, shared outside toilet, tin bath and a geyser over the sink the prefab was luxury.

    Ivan P Anderson


    Comment by Ivan P Anderson | November 20, 2015

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