BISF Historical Documents Series 9th Feb 1944 Prototype Houses

BISF Historical Documents Series 9th Feb 1944 Prototype Houses 1

In this series of posts we take a look at a selection of historical documents outlining the development and construction of the British Iron & Steel Federation, Steel Framed House.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. 9th February. 1944,at 10.30 a.m.

Present:-     Mr. C, J. Kavanagh (Chairman)

Hon. H. C. H. Bathurst Mr. W. Brown Mr. J. S. Harrison Mr. T. G. Rodger

Mr. W, Rennie Mr. A . H. Edwards

Mr. W. S. Napier

In Attendance:- Mr. T. Stevenson (Secretary)
Mr. D. J. Davles Mr. V. G. Baker.

1. Minutes.

The minutes of the previous meeting held on the 14th December, 1943, were approved by the Committee and signed by the Chairman.


It was reported that an apology for absence had been received from Mr. E. G. Saunders.

3.Report of British Building Mission to the U.S.A,

Copies of the “Bossom” report on building in the U.S.A. which had just been issued, were given to each member of the Committee, and the Chairman made a brief reference to various items of interest. The report, he said, had not been considered in close detail as yet but he specifically referred to paragraphs 90, 102, 103, 111, 113, 114 and 117.

4.Exhibition Houses.

The Chairman then referred to the progress report outlining the negotiations Which had taken place with the Ministry of Works on the exhibition houses at Hayes up to the 28th January, which had been circulated with the Agenda. He emphasised that the Archi­tect had been working very closely to schedule and had submitted his plans on the date promised and that he, the Chairman, had only heard yesterday from the Director-General that these plans were finally approved. He pointed out that the machinery at the Ministry of Works was somewhat cumbersome, as approval had to be obtained from their own Departments, panels of independent architects, and the Building Research Station. The Chairman also said that he had asked the Director-General to appoint a contact man to pilot the working drawings through the various Departments in order to expedite approval. Sir Hugh Beaver had indicated that he was sympathetic to this suggestion.

5. Type Designs “A”. “B”and “C”.

The Chairman referred to the note which had been circu­lated dealing with the consultations with the Structural Engineers on Type “A”.

Mr, Edwards, who was Chairman of the Structural Steelwork Design Committee dealing with this matter, indicated that the consultations had resulted in a number of suggestions which had been adopted. His Committee had considered the design to be quite satisfactory and such alteration as might be required, following the amendment of the plan layout, would be of a minor character and would not affect the general principles of construction.

The Chairman said that the Design Committee had also considered the question of the supply of the framework for the prototype and the matter had been referred to the London Constructional Engineers Association, who had recommended Dorman Long & Co,or Redpath Brown & Co, to carry out the work. These two Companies, in consultation, had agreed that Redpath Brown could fabricate and erect the prototype. The matter, he said, would now be referred to the Main Committee for their approval.

On the Type “B” design, using cold rolled sections, the note circulated had indicated that the producers of cold rolled sections were preparing to set up an organisation for the develop­ment of this product and in the meantime, as an interim measure, had set up a Technical Panel which was working in close collabo­ration with Mr. Davies and the Consulting Engineer. The maximum preliminary work possible on the framework had been carried out but the preparation of working drawings had been dependent on the final approval of the Architect’s plans, which had now been secured.

Mr, Edwards referred to the estimate of time for the fabrication of the framework, which seemed to be rather long. The Chairman said that most of the time was absorbed in the preparatory work of tooling, but at a meeting which was to take place tomorrow an endeavour would be made to reduce this estimate of time. He said that the two types would in any case be erected separately, and the time element did not affect the work on Type “A” design.

The Committee then examined the plans which had been submitted by the Architect on the 17th January to the Ministry of Works, together with the elevations of both Type “A” and Type “B” designs. These were the plans and elevations which the Minis try had now approved, subject to minor modifications, details of which had not yet come through.

On the subject of the roof construction, the Chairman reported that the Architect was averse to using steel sheets for the roof construction if it involved re-painting within seven years. In his, the Architect’s, opinion this limitation would not apply to the side sheeting but re-painting of the roof seemed to him to be a different proposition. The Chairman also referred to the contacts on the subject of painting with the Building Research Station, and through it, with the Paint Research Association at Teddington, whose representative, Dr, Bell, had stated that there was no paint treat­ment including paint harling, which could be guaranteed for more than five years.

In these circumstances, the Committee agreed that it would be desirable to substitute protected metal sheets for galvanised painted sheets for the roof covering. The Chairman reported that the Architect had been considering the use of R.P.M, and a certain analysis of costs had already been worked out showing comparisons with painted galvanised sheets and with conventional tiled con­struction,

Mr, Bathurst suggested that consideration should be given to the use of Cellactite, as there was a greater variety of colour available. The Chairman also referred to the possibility of using a “Ruberoid” roof developed by Messrs, Sankey as an alternative.

It was proposed by Mr, Edwards, seconded by Mr, Bathurst, and agreed that the roof sheets be in R.P.M, for Type “A” and that Cellactite should be used for the “B” type, subject to the Architect’s approval,

6, Steel Sheeting,

Mr. Bathurst, at the invitation of the Chairman, referred to the meeting of the Housing Committee of the Sheet-makers Conference which was held on Wednesday, 6th February, The meeting,

he said, had confined itself to the appointment of firms to provide the sheet material required for the prototypes. The meeting had expressed some doubt as regards the use of the weatherboard type of sheeting but, having indicated some of the difficulties, had left it to the Technical Committee, the Engineer and the Architect to come to a final decision.

The Chairman stated that Mr, Baker had been in consultation with Messrs. Fredk, Braby and Joseph Sankey on the subject of the weatherboard sheeting, and the greatest difficulty to be overcome was in the flashing. There was also a problem in effecting a good horizontal joint and the opinion was expressed that Jointing material would be necessary. It was suggested that this matter might be discussed further with Mr. Edwards.

7.Tests on Light Gauge Sections.

It was reported that the material required for the physical tests on cold formed sections had been ordered and arrangements made with Stangers to carry out the range of tests. The material had been despatched and the tests would be carried out in the near future. It was reported that the Building Research Station had been brought into consultation regarding the tests and would be kept advised of the results as it had been considered desirable to associate them with the work. The Ministry would no doubt consult the Building Research Station on the various technical aspects of the use of this material and it seemed to be a necessary precaution to carry out all development work along lines which had their full collaboration and approval.

Reference was also made to a number of tests being carried out by both Accles and Pollock and J, Brockhouse on the finish to be applied to the sections after manufacture.

Quantity Surveyor.

The Chairman reported that the appointment of a quantity surveyor, which had been recommended at a previous meeting, had been under consideration and the Architect had recommended that Mr. P. T. Walters should be considered for this work. The Chairman asked for any further nominations from the Committee but the Committee agreed that as the quantity surveyor and the Architect should work in harmony it would be desirable to accept the Architect’s recommendation. Mr. Edwards said that he was acquainted with Mr. Walters and that he could recommend his appointment. The Chairman said the recommendation would be forwarded to the Main Committee for a decision in the matter.

Meeting with Lord Portal.

The Chairman reported that he had just had a telephone conversation during the course of the meeting with Mr. Spencer Summers, who had had an interview with Lord Portal that morning. Lord Portal had expressed the view that when the work in hand permitted he would be pleased if further work were carried out by the Committee on Type “C”. Mr. Summers stated that both Architect and the Consult­ing Engineer were fully employed now on the “A” and “B” types, which had priority, but he had suggested, subject to the Committee^s approval, that the C type should be further developed provided it did not interfere with the necessary work on the “A” and “B” types for exhibition.

The Chairman reported that Mr, Summers had also suggested to Lord Portal that for the building of the two pairs of exhibition houses, “A” and “B”  a building contractor should be appointed and Lord Portal had agreed. The following names were suggested by various members of the Committee:- Carmichael; Gee, Walker & Slater; Laing; and Bovis. On a proposal by Mr, Bathurst it was agreed that the Chairman should put these recommendations to the Main Committee,

The Chairman then referred to the exterior rendering on the “B” type house and said that this could be applied either to dovetail sheeting or to a mosh fabric such as “Steeltex”. Mr. Rodger stated that “Steeltex” was available in this country, at any rate for the prototypes, and could be supplied by Richard Hill of Newcastle. For the alternative of dovetail sheeting, Mr, Bathurst said that the material could be supplied by Sankeys or Brabys,

10. British Standards.

Tho secretary reported that the Ministry of Works, in addition to building exhibition houses, was actively engaged In many aspects of planning for tho post-war building programme by tho preparation of reports of Study Committees, Standards Committees and Codes of Practice Committees. The Standards Committee of the Ministry had recently approved for transmission to tho British Standards Institution a limited series of standards on steel sinks, steel door frames, window sills, skirting boards etc., and the B.S.I  Would shortly be setting up a number of Committees to deal with each of those items. Ho reported that the British Steelwork Association would no doubt be asked to guide the British Standards Institution regarding appropriate representation, and since the Housing Committee was concerned with all those units, he asked what guidance ought to be given to tho B.S.I., apart from any representation of manufac­turers which might be arranged directly. On such items as steel sinks, the matter was fairly straightforward but for steel trim the matter was a little more complicated, since it included both sheet and strip as the raw materials and cold pressing and cold rolling in tho fabrication, and the fabrication side was not yet fully organised. On tho recommendation of Mr. Bathurst it was agreed that the Housing Committee should take an interest in this work and that nominations to the Committees should be made by the Secretary in consultation with the Chairman.

There was no further business.