Housebuilding in Cosham, 1930s

Housebuilding, Highbury Homes, Cosham, 1930s

...a permanent record of the building of Highbury Estate, a township in itself...

Two clips from the silent black and white film ‘Housebuilding: Highbury Homes, Cosham' can be viewed in the "Gallery" section of this item. The film shows the construction of the Highbury Homes estate at Cosham, Portsmouth in the 1930s.

The filmmaker, Mr A Mitchell, said that he wanted to make '…….a permanent record of the building of Highbury Estate, a township in itself, situated on the outskirts of Portsmouth and on the slopes of Portsdown Hill with Cosham railway adjoining.'

The first film clip, lasting 3 minutes 17 seconds, begins with workmen unloading shingle from a barge to make concrete used in building. They push full wheelbarrows across a narrow plank to land. Men are shown mixing concrete. There follows film of the Highbury microtractor moving surplus soil, and workmen laying kerbs for new roads and drains.

A second film clip, lasting 5 minutes 57 seconds, begins by showing the variety of fireplaces, with concrete mantels and tiled surrounds, inside the newly-built homes. This is followed by a tour of the many labour-saving appliances and innovative storage spaces in the kitchen, including the cooker and sink. These were all supplied at no further cost. Then there is a glimpse of the modern indoor bathroom, with bath, sink and toilet. The film concludes with a tour around some of the newly-built streets of homes in Chatsworth Avenue, Highbury Grove and Edgerly Gardens.

The complete film can be viewed at the Wessex Film and Sound Archive at Hampshire Archives and Local Studies.

Quick Facts

  • Catalogue record number AV420/1-3/V1
  • Original medium 16mm cinefilm
  • Filmed at Highbury Homes estate, Cosham, Portsmouth
  • Filmed by Mr A Mitchell
  • Length of first film clip 3 minutes 17 seconds
  • Length of second film clip 5 minutes 57 seconds


  • The original film ‘Housebuilding: Highbury Homes, Cosham' was on 16mm cinefilm.
  • The complete film, held at Wessex Film and Sound Archive, is unusual in that it shows so much detail, from laying the infrastructure to the finished estate.

    It includes laying of sewers and road kerbs; unloading shingle, mixing concrete, a micro-tractor shifting surplus soil from road building to be used eventually for gardens of houses. There is a shot of a 'mechanical navvy' levelling ground. We are shown bulk running of lime for plastering, making mortar in the mill, laying bitumen mastic for damp course, and timber purchase by the boatload for joists and door frames.

    We also get a glimpse of the landscaping: turfing front gardens, laying crazy paving, and erecting trelliswork between houses. There are also interior views of the kitchens, bathrooms and fireplaces, and shots of the show house. The full film even shows pay day, and workers playing football during their dinner break.
  • Jill Brighton, volunteer at Wessex Film and Sound Archive, Hampshire Archives and Local Studies, suggested this because:
    “An interesting film for viewing a building site, machinery used and the manual labour force. Visiting the area today shows how it’s evolved and how the intervening years of gardening and mature trees have erased the original stark appearance of the estate.”
  • Jill Brighton has been a volunteer at Wessex Film and Sound Archive since 2007, helping with a number of useful tasks, and lives in North Winchester.

Did you know?

There are actually 3 reels in this collection, and the total showing time for all 3 would be almost an hour and three quarters.


Housebuilding in Cosham, 1930s
Housebuilding in Cosham, 1930s

Fact Sheets

Catalogue record for the film clips Housebuilding at Cosham, 1930s

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