BISF Historical Documents Series 24th March 1944 Progress Report

In this series of posts we take a look at a selection of historical documents outlining the development and construction of the British Iron & Steel Federation, Steel Framed House.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 Friday, 24th March 1944, at 10.30 a.m.

Mr. C. J, Kavanagh (Chairman). The Hon. H. C. H. Bathurst.  Mr. W. Brown.  Mr. A. H. Edwards.  Mr. W. Rennie

Mr. T. G. Rodger.  Mr. E. G Saunders. Mr. T. Stevenson (Secretary) Mr. D. J. Davies Mr. V. G. Baker.

The meeting began informally by the Members examining the plans and working drawings which had been prepared to date by the Architect and Consulting Engineer for both “A” and “B” type houses. Small samples of the proposed sheets – weatherboard, trapezoidal, dovetail, R.P.M. and Cellactite – for cladding sides and roofs were displayed and full scale panels of the proposed “C” type house, with and without windows, were examined, Mr. Gibberd, his assistant Mr. Norris, and Mr. Lee were present during the discussion and gave explanations on details.

After Mr. Gibberd had indicated the present negotiations with the officials of the Ministry of Works on the siting of the “A” and “B” houses at Northolt (previously referred to as at Hayes), the Chairman referred to the intensive work which Mr, Gibberd had done during the past four weeks in preparing the Architect’s working drawings, of which there were 84, Mr, Lee had also been most active during the period and the Committee indicated its appreciation of the excellent services they had rendered, Mr, Gibberd, Mr, Norris and Mr, Lee then retired and the Committee proceeded with the business of the Agenda.

1,              Minutes.

The minutes of the previous meeting held on Wednesday, 9th February, were approved by the Committee and signed by the Chairman.

2,              Apologies.

Apologies for absence wore received from Mr. J. S. Harrison and Mr. R. Marshall.

3,               Progress Report on Working Drawings.

The Chairman referred to the notice circulated with the Agenda which set out briefly tho present position in regard to the working drawings for both the “A” and “B” type houses. Now that those had been completed, after alterations to suit the requirements of the Ministry of Works, he stated that a fairly large proportion of the original programme as set out in Memorandum No. 2 had been covered.

With regard to the time schedules for the “A” design, the work was well advanced and the frame would be ready for the builder by April 3rd, There would probably be a delay in the manufacture of the staircases and it was stated that Sankeys had reported commence­ment of fabrication.

The framework for the type “B” house required a longer period for fabrication and it was expected that it could be completed

at the Works by the end of April. Answering a question from Mr. Edwards, the Chairman stated that the present schedules only covered for fabrication and that schedules of the builder’s work would be available shortly.

4. Builder and Quantity Surveyor.

The Chairman intimated that both the Builder and Quantity Surveyor had been appointed by tho Main Housing Committee. The Builder was Messrs. Wates Ltd, who had wide experience as speculative builders, and the discussions which had taken place with Mr. Norman Wates indicated that his firm was eminently suited to undertake this work. The Quantity Surveyor appointed was Mr, Walters and as he was well known to the Architect it seemed that an excellent choice had been made, as both would require to work in close collaboration.

5.Erection of Prototype Houses.

The Chairman referred to the notes circulated with the Agenda on the arrangements which had been made for the erection of the prototype houses. The Committee agreed to the proposal for pre-erection by the builder in his own yard of the framework of both “A” and “B” houses with sufficient sheeting, windows and trim to provide the necessary experience for speedy final erection at Northolt. Members of the Committee considered that the time taken in pre-erection would not be lost but would be fully recovered in the final erection, and that the pre-erection agreed upon should no circumstances be omitted.

6.Costs of Steel Components.

On costing, the Chairman emphasised that the Ministry were paying particular attention to the subject and a suitable basis for the costing of tho steel components would require to be established. Members of the Committee were agreed that it would be impossible to state the actual cost of the components used in the prototype houses and that the cost for mass production could only be estimates based on present day labour and other charges and on an appropriate scale of mass production.

The Secretary read a letter which had been received from Sir Hugh Beaver, Director-General of the Ministry of Works, addressed to the Chairman on the subject, in which he indicated that an appropriate mass production figure which was likely to be acceptable to the Ministry would be 10,000 to 20,000 houses. On the recommendation of Mr. Bathurst and Mr. Saunders it was agreed that the suppliers of the various steel components should be asked to esti­mate on the basis of 20,000 houses and in accordance with present day labour and other charges.

Mr. Edwards stated that the “A” frame would be priced by the B.C.S.A , Price Committee and that the total amount of structural steelwork in the frame was 6 tons 8 cwts. For the sheeting price Mr. Bathurst stated that this should be referred to the Housing Committee of the Sheetmakers Conference, who would probably form a sub-committee to review the matter and produce the estimates. Mr. Bathurst also recommended that the Committee should resist any suggestion of costing the prototype houses.

7. Type “C” Design.

Reference was made to Type “C” design and it was agreed that the Architect should have a free hand in the planning. The Ministry of Works were now erecting some houses at Northolt to a plan of 900 sq. ft. the plan area which they had contented when the “A” and “B” plans were originally submitted. The Chairman stated that Mr. Gibberd, the Architect, was of the opinion that this floor area would give him ample scope.

8. Date of the Next Meeting.

It was agreed that the date of the next meeting should be left to the discretion of the Chairman according to the business to be transacted.

There was no further business.