Development of the current fabric

Four Lapish Avenue has local social significance arising from its contemporary functions as a small home as well as associations with important people of the area. The fabric documents the changing styles/fashions, uses as well as the leisure and social activities of the people who lived within 4 Lapish Avenue over time.

The original construction

RM Bowcock built at an interesting time of change within society. His building of the entire street scape was a gamble with considerable financial risk given the construction was during the peak of World War Two. The gamble is consistent with Bowcocks history as a known grey hound racer. These inter related factors has provided some interesting outcomes for the final construction:

  • The monolithic concrete footings is well over 600mm wide consistent with British construction styles.
  • Brick walls have been reinforced with extra wall ties and openings with double mild steel flat bar lintels consistent with over engineering principles of the period.
  • A English bond technique has been used for wall junctions with a bond every 4th brick consistent with British construction styles.
  • In the sub floor approximate 20-30% of bricks appear to be of inconsistent colours and profiles, which could be assumed as a cost saving measure.
  • Rendered walls approximate 10-15% of bricks appear to be of inconsistent colours, which could be assumed as a cost saving measure.
  • The brickwork of the facade has clearly been laid by a master brick layer. The brick is a dark red decorative brick popular in the period and earlier Californian Bungalow styles. The walls are plum and the thin (8mm) mortar has been beautifully laid and decoratively pointed by someone of skill.
  • The rear walls are a less decorative solid common brick that appears to be of engineering quality (stronger than a normal house brick usually used for bridges, tunnels and infrastructure). It could be suggested these bricks are left over from another engineering project RM Bowcock was constructing or possibly excess from wartime/government construction.
  • The rear brickwork is significantly different to the facade. Inconsistent mortar mixes can be observed with some walls are almost pure lime mortar while other walls appear to be a more modern 6:3:1 mix. This walls are also less plum with the expected buckle at arm’s reach height where the brick layer did not scaffold up. This would suggest less skills brick layers where used as a cost saving and that they were either a large team or there was a high turnover of workman.
  • The rear skillion roof construction drawn in the original building application was not constructed. Rather the centre ridge was extended and rear roof was constructed as a continuation of the purlin glazed tile roof, with a slightly larger pitch. Given a skillion roof would have been cheaper to construct we can assume this was done for aesthetical reasons.
  • Most interestingly is the Architects accurate ‘Art Deco’ proportions have only been applied to the facade. Whilst the rest of the house all windows and nib walls have been positioned on whole bricks to reduce the number of bricks cuts required rather than be centralised to the room as per the Architects design. Resulting in the rest of the house (entry back) being of slightly odd proportions.
  • The roof structure only has a wall plate on the external leaf of wall with ceiling joists being placed directly on the brick work on the internal walls.
  • Diagonal and vertical struts (hangers and binders) supporting the roof purlins are mostly recycled timber evidenced by the run of baton nails down them. It can be assumed this was a cost saving measure.
  • The bathroom and laundry floors have been constructed as a floating concrete floor with a subfloor. This is an interesting engineering solution. A course of bricks have been turned header protruding inwards and creating a lip perimeter then a corrugated galvanised sheet laid flat creating a recess that was filled with concrete to about 120mm thickness.

The quality of workman ship in the finish appears to be of a very high standard. A number of indicators of quality workmanship include:

  • The render is 12-16mm thick in some places and is plum. Except for the east wall in the living room which is significantly out of plum and highlighted by the angled wall for the fireplace. It would be interesting to understand why this is? As it would have been very obvious at construction and very inconsistent with the rest of the workmanship.
  • The carpentry is of a high quality with architraves and door frames being square and true.
  • The decorative cornice has been perfectly joined to ensure a continuation of patterns. The ceiling fixer has applied some creative geometry to hide the renders out of plum wall in the living room. It can be assumed the ceiling fixer was very skilled at his trade.
  • The double sash windows do not have the expected pulley at the top. Rather the rope just passes through a simple hole in the window frame. It can be suggested this is either a cost saving measure or potentially a result of materials shortage from the war.
  • The bathroom and bedroom doors were all hung to open towards the centre of the room was as common in the period
  • The bathroom and bedroom doors where all fitted with mortice locks.
  • Extremely decorative ‘Art Deco’ brass backing plates where used on all door handles and a large chrome ‘Art Deco’ door handle with mechanical door bell was used on the entry door.