Saturday, 23 May 2009

The Scandal of Britain's New Towns, Built on Cake Board


Perhaps one of the editorial or design staff at Buttons lived on a particularly dilapidated high-rise and had a dark sense of humour. It's hard to believe that the inclusion of the above suggested activity didn't appear out of at least a little devilment, despite the tone of innocence found throughout the rest of the publication.

Buttons was a weekly comic for very small children which came as an annex to the BBC's 'See-Saw' strand of pre-school programming back in the 1980's, and as such featured cartoon strips of all the fondly remembered shows of the time. Whilst flicking through a pile of '82/'83 issues recovered from my parents' loft in search of some sweet King Rollo & Willo The Wisp action (pleasantly surprised to find considerable coverage given to the original Crow & Alice era of You And Me too), I found this thinly veiled ulterior commentary on post-war housing.

Now it is of course common to hear poorly built council houses described as being 'paper thin', but these innovative designs are recommended to be constructed from cardboard. This is a step up from the houses on the 1970's Thorplands estate in Northampton, which actually were made in part from paper, namely a waterproof 'breathable' sheeting fixed to plywood frames. The foundations however comprised of concrete slabs, not the foil covered cake board suggested here.

Maybe that 'leave to dry' line is something to do with rising damp, though I might just be reading too much into it.

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