Demand for accommodation in Alcester area was particularly pressing as the Maudslay Motor Company transferred virtually all of its production operations from Coventry to a “shadow factory” at Great Alne in order to escape the air raids. Both of the cottages at Aston Cantlow were used to provide accommodation for Maudslay employees and their families at different points during the war. The file1 sheds light on how the requisitioning process worked, and gives some insights into contemporary socio-economic conditions.
Among the more interesting letters is an anonymous letter written in December 1942 which questions the entitlement of a Mr F to a cottage at Aston Cantlow. The writer complained that Mr F only slept there about once a month, and had a house in Birmingham where he and his family slept the other nights. The anonymous correspondent went on to add that there were other more deserving people in need of accommodation, specifically the writer’s friend2. Previous correspondence in the file shows that this was not the first time which the Council had come under pressure about the Fs’ occupation of 16 Aston Cantlow, and it is clear that it had been trying to get possession of this property for some time3.
A significant level of interest
Although there was a significant level of interest in the cottages at Aston Cantlow, the accommodation they offered was basic at best. A letter from the Council to the Senior Regional Officer at the [Birmingham] Ministry of Health in April 1942 stated that an inspection of no. 15 Aston Cantlow had found that ‘in its present condition it is not fit to live in’4. Plans for repair were drawn up, but delays followed, and the cottage was still in poor condition by August 1943, when Mr Compton, General Manager of the Maudslay Motor Company, wrote to the Council on behalf of an employee, Mr S, a chargehand at the factory, who was very upset by his domestic situation, ‘to the extent that his work is affected.’
Terrible living conditions
The terrible living conditions were having an adverse effect the health of Mr S’s wife, so much so that he was considering applying for release. Mr Compton noted that the Council had apparently instructed contractors, but no repairs had been done. He called on the Council to investigate and take action ‘as this mans [sic] work is vital in the interests of production’5. The Council provided assurances that repair work would soon be underway, however, it would seem that the outcome of these repairs was perhaps not satisfactory a Mr S wrote to the Council in May 1944 giving notice of his intention to quit the property6. When the war ended, the cottages were de-requisitioned.
1 Warwickshire County Record Office reference CR2823/1/27