As part of the Unity Housing Redevelopment project taking place in the Wolsey Road area of Stowmarket, I have been working for Mid Suffolk District Council on the Every Road Tells A Story Project. It’s celebrating the Unity Housing – otherwise known as ‘prefabs’ – and the people who lived in them. These particular ones were built in the mid-1950s as a ‘temporary’ housing solution but stood rather longer than that and are only now being demolished (having stood for 60 years!) with new rented houses built in their place.
In recent years, many of these Unity Houses were creaky and damp with a man from the council turning up each year with a bucket of cement to fill the cracks in the walls. The buildings were, however, 'home' to many people who had invested their lives in the old properties and felt part of a community that had grown around them. Many didn’t want to move out. One woman who did – and moved around the corner into a new house – couldn’t look at her old abandoned home and overgrown garden so closed her eyes each time she went past as her husband drove her to the supermarket.
The book will tell the story of the Unity Houses and also include some poems on the subject of 'home', written by local students from Cedars Park and Stowmarket High. Every Road Tells a Story will be launched on Thursday 30 June at the Museum of East Anglian Life, following an exhibition at Abbotts Hall which will be put up the week before, featuring photographs and other artefacts from the houses.