Construction of Red Hall Estate 1970s

The below recording shows the construction of the final phase of Red Hall Estate at a time when the late Ron Pearson worked as an architect for Darlington Borough Council.  Ron was also involved in a number of other building design work; including some to the Covered Market and the old Town Hall (for which he won an award). 

The footage was taken in the mid to late 1970’s when Red Hall Estate was being extended, originally recorded on cine-film by Ron and kindly forwarded to us by his son Nick.

 

Red Hall was built in phases and the construction company George Wimpey (who built houses all over the country, mainly for Local Authorities), won the contract to build this final phase of homes.  New ways of building were considered to try to erect homes not only quickly but also to keep the building costs down.

The method of construction designed and used by Wimpey was called ‘No-Fines’ In Situ Concrete. In other words the houses were made mainly from concrete.  This concrete mixed without sand has unusual properties, in that it can be cast within a mesh or standard framework. This procedure allowed Wimpey to be able to construct houses rapidly without the use of skilled brick layers. 

These semi-detached houses, bungalows and flats were built in situ with a concrete cast shell.  The concrete was poured into a mould and which then set very quickly.  It was said that the concrete could be poured it into the mould on the morning and then it was possible to suspend a scaffold through the holes in the walls after lunch.

The concrete for the entire house was cast in one operation using re usable formwork.  The walls were made of concrete as was the ground and first floors.  Traditional timber joists and floorboards could be used. To weatherproof the structure, the external walls were rendered and then pebble dashed.

Modern day map of the Red Hall Estate. 

Coombe Drive was the main access road onto the estate with streets branching off it to the left.  When this final stage of houses was built, Coombe Drive then curved round at the new and far end becoming an integral part of the estate with courts branching off on either side.  Whilst some houses give the impression that they are part of Coombe Drive because they actually face onto the road, in reality they bear the address of one of the streets that branch off it.

All the streets on the estate were named after Sporting Venues.  Nick Pearson recalled that one day his Dad had asked him to list as many sporting venues as possible.  Therefore, Nick believes his claim to fame is that he helped to give the streets of Redhall their names! 

Below are 4 of the street names, can you name the type of sporting venue their names refer to? Answers are at the bottom of this page.

Roker Close?

Headingley Crescent?

Murrrayfield Way?

Harringay Crescent?

One male on Facebook wrote that he was the Materials Manager on this site for about 3 months and that a block of 4 houses could be built in 48 hours!

Another male stated that he also worked on the site, glazing the windows. He says that there was ‘Very little Health & Safety in those days.  Notice the absence of hard hats, hi-viz jackets, hearing protectors and safety glasses!  But common sense prevailed in most cases and the on-site camaraderie was excellent, everybody helped everyone else. He continues to say “Whilst I do agree that today the design might be considered very dated, at the time of building it was considered very high spec for council housing. 

While watching the film, notice the style of tools being used, eg hand held saws, long handled screw drivers etc, today workmen would have access to power tools. 

No matter what people may think of the design of the houses today, at the time they were considered to be cutting edge and the tenants were delighted to be given new and very modern houses.  Many people later went onto purchase their homes and are still the proud owners to this date.

You will all probably be aware that new eco houses are currently being built on part of the old Paton & Baldwins site at Lingfield Point.  Interestingly the company that was George Wimpey and now called Taylor Wimpey are the builders. 

Answers to Sporting Venues:

Roker Close = football

Headingley Crescent = cricket

Murrrayfield Way = rugby

Harringay Crescent = greyhound racing

Written 2013 by Carol Atkinson