Variable build quality on the Wates Estate – by GH

We were Phase 3 of the estate – it was, I think, two years old – but we bought the house in February 1964, when it was just a heap of mud!So we had to wait for it to be completed before we could move in and as we wereliving on the Wirral at the time, this meant I had to live in digs for aboutten months until we could move in.  We were Phase 3 and our phase was finished and then they moved further down tocomplete; I think there were five or six phases altogether. There were a total of, I think, about 800 dwelling units for the Wates Estate which were built and I think we were probably about a quarter of the way through.  It was rather muddy, I remember, but the area was completely new to us; we hadn’t chosen it because of anything other than I was to work in Willesden and there was a very convenient train service that went from Richmond to Willesden, which meant I could go to work by public transport.  My colleagues tended to gorather long distances out along Western Avenue, which I didn’t fancy a long drive.

Well, what was interesting was… in the 1960s, there were considerable difficulties in getting mortgages, in spite of the fact that houses in those days were around, somewhere between £5-7000. One of the problems was that as Wates continued to build, until the end of the ’60s, they were unable to sell the houses and therefore, what they did to keep the price down was to considerably cheapen them and what is interesting is that the houses at the end of the Wates Estate are considerably inferior equipped inside, like central heating, whether it was a named kitchen or a builder’s cupboard. Even so, a lot of the houses in those days were not sold but were rented, until finally, as time went by, all of them are bought by presumably the owners, though now, of course, the pattern is to have them bought as aninvestment.