Cae Bricks housing estate, Beaumaris
These houses were designed by renowned architect Sidney Colwyn Foulkes (1884-1971). They impressed NHS founder Aneurin Bevan, who visited while they were being built.
The photos – courtesy of Anglesey Archives – show Aneurin meeting workmen at the building site, and the newly completed houses.
Sidney lived in Colwyn Bay and was noted for his cinemas and shops before the Second World War. Cae Bricks was the first of several housing estates he designed after the war, which left Britain short of housing. His estate in Llanrwst won a medal, and his Rhos-on-Sea estate was praised as “perfectly charming” by the great American architect Frank Lloyd Wright.
The government produced guidelines for new houses which improved living conditions and councils could afford to build in bulk. Sidney adapted the guidelines by combining new and old architecture, inspired by his friend Clough Williams-Ellis’ work at Portmeirion village.
Sidney preferred terraced houses to semi-detached, partly as they were cheaper to build. His had extra-wide frontages and were less deep from front to back than usual, so that there was more daylight in the rooms, better ventilation and space for a parlour as well as a general living room. In 1952 he said he had learned from meeting families that mothers wanted to be able to keep “some part of my house tidy”, where visitors could be entertained in comfort.
In September 1945 Sidney was commissioned to design 30 houses for the hillside area above Beaumaris known as Cae Bricks. The land was part of the Baron Hill estate. They were completed in 1948, lining three new roads: Maes Hyfryd, Ffordd Meigan and Bryn Teg.
On one of several visits to the construction site, health minister Aneurin Bevan noticed that the house ceilings were lower than the guidelines stipulated. Sidney said this was to save on bricks (then in short supply) and reduce heating bills. The minister agreed, and the national guidelines were changed accordingly in 1952.
Work began on a further 30 houses here in 1952, with workers at the Saunders-Roe factory in mind, and a block of six flats for old people. The third and final set of houses was built from 1953.
Sidney grouped all of the houses to provide pleasant spaces, attractive vistas and visual coherence. The terraces which go up the hillside are stepped forward so that the back roof runs from one house to the next – cheaper to build than a separate roof per house.
With thanks to Adam Voelcker
Postcode: LL58 8HE View Location Map