When I first moved to Longridge in the early seventies I remember pairs of Airey Houses scattered about on country lanes. I thought nothing about them except they looked very utilitarian, which in fact they were. Over the years most of the ones I knew have been transformed into modern properties by sensitive and hopefully efficient conversions. I passed two of these updated Airey Houses on Ford Lane whilst walking to Beacon Fell the other day…
That set me thinking on the origins of Airey Houses. They were in fact named after Sir Edwin Airey who designed them at the Ministry of Works after the Second World War when affordable housing was urgently needed. Basically, a frame of prefabricated concrete reinforced with steel recycled from military vehicles. Concrete shiplap panels were then added to the exterior making them instantly recognisable. They were quick to erect on site but difficult to heat because of the poor thermal properties of the concrete. Approximately 26000 prefabricated Airey houses were built in the UK.
The three-bedroom semi-detached properties were built in rural areas, including Grimsargh and Goosnargh in the late 1940s and early 50s. They were council-owned but presumably many were privately acquired through the ‘right to buy ‘ scheme.
There are more to discover around the area.