BISF Historical Documents Series 17th May 1944

In this series of posts we take a look at a selection of historical documents outlining the development and construction of the British Iron & Steel Federation, Steel Framed House.

We currently hold thousands of archive items that have each been photographed and in some cases converted to text form for easier searching. This conversion method is an on-going process that will take several months to complete however we hope that you will find these never before published documents to be as fascinating as we have found them to be.



Minutes of the Meeting held at Steel House on Wednesday, 17th May 1944 at 10,50 a.m.

Present;      Mr, C. J. Kavanagh (Chairman) The Hon. H. C. H. Bathurst Mr. W. Brown Mr. A. H. Edwards Mr. E. G. Saunders Mr. W. S. Napier Mr. R, Marshall Mr. W. Rennie. In Attendance: Mr. T. Stevenson (Secretary) Mr. D. J. Davies. 1.            Apologies. Apologies for absence were intimated from Mr, Rodger, Mr, Harrison and Mr. Tubman. 2.           Minutes. The minutes of the previous meeting held on Friday, 24th March 1944, were confirmed and signed. 3,           Progress on “A” and “B” Houses. The Chairman, referring to the list of sub-contractors which had been circulated with the Agenda, stated that the only alteration was that Messrs, P, A, Norris had been unable to make the porch framework and that arrangements had since been made for Messrs, Stewarts & Lloyds Ltd. to carry out this work. The Chairman then referred to Mr, Gibberd’s report to the Main Committee and to the extract from the minutes of the meeting of the Main Committee dealing with this item, which had been circulated. He drew attention to the decisions which had been made on the preparation of a revised version of the “A” type house, the design of the C” type house and the study of component parts and equipment items. It had also been decided that a folder should be prepared for each Job, giving the working drawings, the specifi­cations, quantities and photographs, for the information of Local Authorities etc, (In this respect, some 17 photographs had been taken of component parts of the “A” frame during the dismantling at Norbury and these were available and examined at the end of the meeting.) 4,          Erection at Northolt. Copies of the Progress Schedule (provisional) for the prototype house “A”, which had been prepared by Wates Ltd., were circulated and examined. The Chairman reported that the frame would be erected at Northolt by the end of the week and the house completed by the first week of June, The work was very little behind schedule and this had occurred through delays in the deliver; of one or two component parts manufactured by firms heavily engaged in priority work. It was agreed that the progress schedule for the “B” type house should be circulated to members as soon as It was available. The Chairman stated that erection of the “B” frame at Norbury would start Immediately and It was hoped to follow the type “A” house at Northolt approximately a fortnight later. 5,        Condensation.
At the previous meeting Mr, Bathurst raised the subject of condensation, and as this was a most important issue it was thought advisable to circulate a memorandum on the subject dealing with the precautions which had been taken in the design of the “A” and “B” houses and including an extract from the Burt Committed Report on the subject, Mr, Rennie stated that he found the memorandum and report very helpful. Mr, Bathurst said that he was concerned not so much with the theory of and precautions against condensation as with the problem of rusting generally, which might be caused by the percolation of moisture from the outside, Reference was made by members to the sketch showing the wall constructions of the “A” and “B” houses and recording their respective thermal efficiencies. The Chairman stated that the thermal insulation values were higher than those for the normal cavity wall construction and in answer to questions stated that the aluminium foil which was used in the “B” house cost only 1/2d. per sq. ft. Its cost of installation, which involved timber framing, amounted to l/6d, per sq, yd. Drawing No, Mll-156 was circulated at the meeting which showed the comparative thermal efficiencies for walls, floors and roofs of the houses designed by the Federation and of ordinary conventional building. The Chairman dealt briefly with the various constructions which showed the improved, and in some cases, greatly improved performance of the new technique over traditional construction. The Committee agreed that the drawing provided the answer to the question which was frequently asked as to whether steel houses were hot or cold, and it would, therefore, be most valuable in the future. 6,       Future Work, On the subject of future work, to which reference had been made in dealing with the Architect’s report to the Main Housing Committee, the decisions which had been reached allowed both the Architect and the Consulting Engineer to develop their work on a definite programme which was necessary for the purpose of retaining staff. On the subject of the revised version of the “A” type house, Mr, Edwards outlined a number of improvements which could be made in the construction and economies in the tonnage of steel employed. He suggested the reduction in the bracing and the elimination of erection bracing, reduction in the size of the purlins and of the sheeting rails and the possibility of using smaller columns and the use of half inch bolts. There was some discussion on the use of standard and non-standard sections but it was agreed that this depended largely on the demand, Which at the present time could not be assessed. Mr, Bathurst enquired where the revised “A” type would be erected and the Chairman stated that it would probably be built at the yard of “Messrs, Wates at Norbury, as it was not intended that it should form part of the Northolt exhibition, but would be used to gain more experience in the cost of alternative infillings etc. The Chairman also instanced other possible economies which could be effected in the “A” design by the elimination of fibre under the roof sheeting, which would be unnecessary following the use of glass wool as an insulator on the loft floor. On the subject of the use of sheets Mr. Bathurst enquired if there was any information available on the possibility of those houses being used contemporaneously with the temporary “Churchill” house, as the demand for sheets for the latter was considerable. It was agreed that this was a matter which required careful consid­eration in order to avoid the possibility of bottlenecks, With regard to the “C” type construction, the sample panels which had been prepared, the Chairman stated, were very good. The Architect, however, was not quite happy since it was difficult to provide in this construction two windows adjacent and by the regular spacing of the window panels, the house took on the lineaments of a hut. This problem was now being examined and suggestions would no doubt be forthcoming later. Mr, Bathurst sounded a warning that in the more prefabri­cated types of construction the emphasis was not on thermal values only but that sound values were most important and that this ought to be given careful consideration. Mr. Saunders enquired if the layout of the “C” type house had been definitely decided and it was reported that the Architect intended to depart from the 850 sq. ft. standard but thought that he could achieve sufficiently commodious accommodation within his original figure of 880 sq. ft. This plan, he hoped also to carry over to the revised type “A”. There was some discussion on the subject of centralised plumbing and Mr. Saunders expressed the view that it would not be possible to secure agreement on one standardised system. Grouping, however, was possible and desirable and Stewarts & Lloyds would be willing to show Mr. Gibberd everything they had done in this direction. 7. Substitution House. The Chairman reported on the initial work which had been carried out with a view to providing steel components in housing to meet a possible timber shortage. This work had not been given any specific impetus so far by the Ministry but the Chairman of the Main Committee, Lord Dudley, had been in touch with Sir Hugh Beaver on the matter recently and the following letter from Lord Dudley was read by the Secretary: “I spoke to Sir Hugh Beaver this afternoon on the subject of the “substitution” type house and I rather gathered from him that his Department had not given much further consideration to this particular house since the time when it was first mooted. He told me on the telephone, however, that he was pretty sure his Department would like to have such a house built, and he is going to make it a subject of further consideration with his colleagues and with the Minister and then send me a communication on the subject. I told him that we were rather anxious to go ahead with the plans for such a house and he replied that he thought it was so certain that the “substitution” type of house would be called for by his Ministry that we would be Justified in going right ahead with the plans for it, and giving the matter immediate consideration in the light of such experience as we may have gained from the plans of the “A” and “B” type houses. He said that it was probable that they would not erect this house at Northolt, and I told him that as far as we were concerned it would not matter where it was put up, so long as we got the advantage of the experience in planning and erecting it. Your Technical Committee wi11, therefore, probably decide to go right ahead with the consideration of these plans.” Some samples of possible alternatives were then examined by the Committee which included types of open web Joists, cold rolled sections including samples of projection welding and of spot welding of hot rolled sections. 8,         Interim Report of Consulting Engineer. The Chairman stated that a few copies had been prepared of the Interim Report of the Consulting Engineer. There were only a limited number available and it was agreed that a copy be circulated among the members of the Committee, allowing each an interval of four or five days for consideration. It was also agreed that a schedule be prepared by the Secretary and circulated with the copies. 9.        Brochure on Steel In House Construction. It was stated that the Main Committee had agreed to the publication of 3,500 copies of the booklet on “Steel in House Construction” for a limited circulation. The brochure would be ready in the near future but in the meantime, copies of the advance proof were made available to the members at the meeting. There was no further business.