The Twentieth Century Society

Campaigning for outstanding buildings

A fabric swatch from Lansbury 1951
Illustration of living room from Lansbury 1951
Illustration of bedroom suite from Lansbury 1951

Texture, detail (and tortoise tragedy)

My colleague on C20 Magazine, David Attwood,  recommended this blog to me: Municipal Dreams, (on which more later), and it’s led me to this great post on the show flat at Lansbury, 1951.    It’s got great illustrations of the designs produced by Mrs Grace Lovett Fraser, which all used Cooperative Society products, chosen for “hard-wearing properties”, ” beauty of line” and “reasonable price”.   Thanks to Hayes People’s History which describes itself as “A site dedicated to the work of Hayes Labour Association, Hayes & Harlington Labour Party, Hayes Communist Party, Trade Unionists, and working men and women of West Middlesex”, you can read the text of the promotional brochure, and check out 1951 prices.

I like the tip that you can use towels to make bathroom curtains (good in steamy conditions), but having been brought up with grey hair-cord carpet (and thus  spent my childhood with deeply ridge-patterned limbs), I’m finding it hard to empathise with the idea that this gave a  ” sense of luxury” .

I really love the way you can appreciate the textures of the fabrics in the collage of swatches, you can almost smell these rooms.    And details such as how the pictures are arranged on the walls make all the difference to recreating authentic interiors.

BTW I met Mrs Albert Snoddy, first Lansbury resident in 1951, and asked her what happened to the tortoise her family are shown as proud owners of in the celebratory film in which they feature.    I was horrified (but guiltily amused) to learn that she had accidentally beheaded him with the steel patio door of her new flat.  I don’t think she was teasing.   I gather there is to be a film of  Roald Dahl’s Esio Trot– when did tortoises become farcical?  or am I being unkind?


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