POST WAR DEVELOPMENTS
THE TEMPLE HILL ESTATE
Dartford's Temple Hill Estate was developed in response to the post-Second World War housing crisis. In 1945, many local families who had been bombed-out during the war were accommodated in prefabricated bungalows at Princes Road, and in temporary accommodation. There was an urgent need for mass good-quality housing in the local area. The council decided to develop a new housing estate on the outskirts of Dartford, which would almost be self-sufficient, in essence, a town in miniature, with shops, social and sports facilities and an extensive range of traditional houses and flats. The intention was to build an estate incorporating 1,800 family units. The traditional brick-built houses would be larger than those of pre-war standard and the design would "conform with the best aims of post-war planning, as far as is practicable within a limited cost".
Dartford Council intended to build flats "...to include all modern facilities such as refuse removal, central heating, clothes drying rooms and pram and bicycle stores on the ground floor". Sufficient shops would be provided "to satisfy the immediate needs of the housewife".
The first phase of the project at Temple Hill was a triumphant success for the council. The official opening was conducted by the Prime Minister, Clement Attlee, on 4 June 1947. Attlee declared "We want people to have places they will love; places in which they will be happy and where they will form a community and have a social life and a civic life...Here in Dartford you are setting an example of how this should be done".
THE FLEET ESTATE
The land on which Fleet Estate stands was developed by private builders and by Dartford Borough Council. The land was originally owned by the Fleet family, a family of local brewers. Algernon Fleet died in 1942. Private developments had taken place in the area as early as the 1930s. The building of some of the roads was being discussed by Dartford Council in the 1950s. By 1960, some roads were in existence including Fleet Road and Fleet Avenue named after the Fleet family. Hesketh Avenue was named after another local man, businessman and benefactor Everard Hesketh. Princes Avenue led from Princes Road.
In 1962, Dartford Council began to enlarge the estate. Included in their long-term plans were flats for the elderly and bungalows. Fleetdown Primary School opened in October 1967. The Fleet Estate was provided with its own Library in 1972 and a Community Centre in 1974.
HOUSING IN THE 1950s AND 1960s
Quite a large number of houses were built in and around Dartford in the 1950s and 1960s. The typical house of this period, although often still semi-detached, was increasingly built in terraces of two or even three storeys with small gardens and integral garages. Large picture windows were a feature of these houses. Some of the new houses were equipped with utility rooms to house washing machines and other household appliances.
The exterior of the 1960s house was particularly functional and plain. By this time all important status symbols had shifted from the house to moveable objects. Washing machines and refrigerators became status symbols and mass car ownership meant that social standing could be shown in other ways. In the 1960s the town house approach began to appear, in which houses might be split into three floors. Fitted or unit furniture became more common and the formal dining room disappeared in favour of the everyday type of family room.
In the 1960s research was carried out into the housing needs of the modern affluent society. It was found that there was a demand for more living and circulating space and for better heating. The design of the kitchen was seen as fundamental to the layout of the whole house. The kitchen area itself was to be extensively fitted to provide lots of storage space. Plenty of power points and provision for electrical equipment were to be supplied by the builders as labour-saving gadgets became affordable by almost every household. Two living spaces were envisaged, one for private or quiet activity, and the other for eating, but the latter could quite easily be part of an enlarged kitchen rather than a separate dining room. A parlour or room saved for best was not even considered.
By the mid-1960s part or full central heating was a feature of every
new home, and rapidly became installed in older homes. Until the 1950s,
the hearth with its roaring fire was the focal point of every home and
had been for generations. Things began to change with the Clean Air Act
of 1956 which forbade the burning of coal in many areas, and the replacement
smokeless fuels burnt less attractively and produced less heat. Fairly
cheap central heating systems became available so that the traditional
fireplace could be boarded-up or simply ignored, and the TV moved to centre
stage. By the 1970s many new houses were being built without chimneys.