Changes to the housing stock in Ham – by KM

Beyond, to the west of Back Lane – a continuous lane then – was all pre-fab housing (that stands for pre-fabricated) so in between Woodville Road and Ashburnham Road there were, as I now know, 113 single storey pre-fabs. I remember the end of those pre-fabs which were eventually pulled down and that is where the Ham Close Estate is today. Also, when I lived there – in Murray Road – Ashburnham Road used to start at Back Lane and didn’t join Ham Street and went as far as opposite Sheridan Road and then just stopped – it was a dead end. Beyond that was all fields. We didn’t call them Ham Lands then we called it The Pits.

When they built the Wates estate – which was started, probably early 1960s, that went on for a few years – they started building from near to Meadlands School first of all – Watermill Close, I think. The building pushed on from past Meadlands School northwards and westwards from there – so it fanned out from Meadlands, further and further onwards. All those houses were brick built. They used to deliver huge, I mean mountains, of bricks and they were stacked in huge great mountains over a big, wide area. The area was supposedly fenced off and supposedly there was a night watchman and so on. But as kids we used to go in and play amongst the bricks and very, very dangerously, used to tunnel into the bricks to make camps inside the bricks. It was a ridiculously dangerous idea but as a kid it seemed a good idea at the time.

I think I saw the end of the pre-fabs and I came in 1960 so I saw the great last really great period of change – before the Wates and Wimpey housing was built, before Ham Close and the Wates Estate. Before then it was much less building and less number of people. I saw a lot of change.