Build Type  


I am trying to identify the build type of my property. I know that it is steel frame with brick walls and Tile roof. The BISF list 141 different build types but I cant identify which one is mine. 

Address: Tine Road, Chigwell, Essex IG7 (Redbridge County Council, ex council house built 1949)

Can anyone help.


kind regards




I've had a quick look at the property and I suspect that these could well be a variant of the Cranwell steel framed house but I will need to do a little more digging just to be sure due to the wide variety of external variations that many of these buildings have.



Could you confirm if your local council is Epping Forest please?



Thank you for your reply, it's not Epping its Redbridge.




Thank you for that. That puts a slightly different twist onto the matter.

The properties you refer to, closely resemble 3 different property when matched with my records,

This is in part, due to the window frame configuration of the properties which appear to have a narrow separation beam between each casement. 

Initially, the Cranwell Steel framed house appeared to be the most likely contender. However now I have ascertained who the local Council is, I have checked their rather scant list of non traditional housing stock which lists the following current stock holding.

Airey 70
Hills 10
Howard 5
No Fines 99
-refurb 123
Stent 15
System Built 1

Bear in mind that the above list does not include the ex council stock that has since been sold under the right to buy scheme.

One particular surprise here for me, was the inclusion of Hills constructed properties who's main structure was manufactured in West Bromwich. I had seen many of these properties situated in the Midlands area but none this far south until now, which initially caused me to exclude this from my list.

However, on closer inspection the Hills Presweld construction could also be a prime contender here.

See below image:

hills presweld (2)

We would need to ignore the slate covered upper gable end here as this was not always present as several variations were constructed. 

The main obvious disparity here, is the fact that the buildings at your location have a brick exterior but this is a known variation of this build.





Here's a little history regarding the company and surprisingly for me, reference to the subsequent purchase of this system by London County Council.

Hills (West Bromwich) Ltd. The company took its name from Bernard Hill who, in partnership with E.D.Hinchliffe, set up the firm of "Hills Patent Glazing Ltd." in 1932. In the pre-war period the firm began to diversify beyond the patent glazing and to manufacture steel windows, lantern and rooflights, lay-lights, office partitioning, verandahs and domes. Among the associated companies formed, in 1936, was Universal Steel Doors, making large sliding doors for aircraft hangers. During the war the firm turned to various light engineering Government contracts such as anchors, Bailey bridge components, rocket
guns, invasion equipment, pulley blocks and gun mountings. Of particular significance was the establishment of a subsidiary of Hills named Chain Development Ltd. This company was to manufacture electrically welded steel chains for the Admiralty and the chains used by the flail tanks of the Royal Armoured Corps, giving the firm considerable experience in welding, especially jig welding.

When the Ministry of Works was investigating with various manufacturers the problem of post-war housing in connection with the PostWar Building Studies series Hills were able to report some experience
in this field.

In 1942 Ernest Hinchliffe had designed components for a light welded hut structure and had built the first prototype at the West Bromwich works, known then as the "Black Hut." He had also taken
out several patents on welding methods and on the production of the steel beams and columns that were to become typical of Hills structures. 

In 1943 a prototype for a two-storey house was erected at the works. This used the round lacing bar as the web of light steel joists and column sections and was developed into the Ministry of Works demonstration site at Northolt in 1944.

Shortly after this several dozen such houses were built for the Ministry at Bushey.
Still in 1944, two prototype houses were built at Alum Rock for Birmingham Corporation leading to larger contracts.
The pair of houses were described in the Post-war Building Studies, No.23, House Construction Second Report, published in 1946
In the study, eight experimental prefabricated houses were reviewed individually but no generalised conclusions were reached.

Named in the report as the "Birmingham Corporation Steel Framed House" the report discussed
in detail all its constructional elements
; the frame was described thus:
The steel frame is of proprietary design (Hills Patent Glazing Co.Ltd.) and consists of stanchions, floor and ceiling hoists and roof trusses formed by welding steel rods, bent to form a lattice pattern web, to flat steel flanges.

The steel frame is of proprietary design of Hills Patent Glazing Co. Ltd. and consists of stanchions, floor and ceiling joists and roof trusses formed by welding steel rods, bent to form a lattice pattern web, to flat steel flanges. Small flat sections have later been used in place of rods. The stanchions and roof
trusses are spaced generally at 3 ft. centres, but stanchions occur immediately on each side of the party wall and support a roof truss in the cavity.
All stanchions are set in the external  wall cavity and they are bedded on a pad of fibreboard and bolted
to the concrete foundations.
The total weight of the steel frame per house is about 30 cwt. It is protected against corrosion by sand blasting and two coats of hot bitumen.
The steel frame was a success; it was also remarkably graceful and neat. The claddings had problems that need not concern us here but the concept of the building was sound. Its potential was sufficiently apparent for the prototype to lead to several contracts with that authority, with the London County Council and for 500 houses for the Scottish Special Housing Association.
The technique used for all these houses was fundamentally the same and became known as "Hills Presweld Steel Framework.
The grid dimension principle had not yet been established and the truss spacings varied to suit individual needs, ranging between 2' 0" and 3' 6".
Nevertheless, the classic advantages of a factory-made, framed system were immediately apparent: early completion of a roof whereunder work could proceed protected from the weather and site labour reduced by  employing sub-assemblies as finished components, such as windows with integral surrounds and sills; all combining to ensure a shorter contract period. Hills were now keen to extend the use of their steelwork into other fields; they had the experience and capability to tackle something bigger and were soon to get the opportunity.


Here's a few rare photographs and a cross section that I have managed to locate amongst my files.

hills preswold frame web
hills preswold frame2 web
hills preswold frame diag web


And lastly, here is an image of the Cranwell construction that I have since ruled out, just in case you were curious.


Hopefully, you will be able to see some of the initial similarities I picked up on.

It's taken a fair bit of investigation but I do think that we have the right construction type now.

It would be good to hear your thoughts. It would also be great if you could confirm any similarity to any of the exposed steel lattice work in the roof space and that shown in the cross section. A photograph would be even better.




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