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Architectural Model - Operation Snail Houses Object Reg. No: SH 891686

Summary:
Model of a house used in Operation Snail, the Victorian Pre-cut Housing Project, developed around 1949.

This model was made by Alpha Displays Pty Ltd and supplied for the exhibition 'Home Sweet Home: Changes in Victorian Domestic Architecture, 1839 - 1989' by W.B. Griffiths, R.McC. Simpson, B.B. Patten, J.D. Gates, J.F. Yuncken and Yuncken Freeman Pty Ltd.

In the early years of post World War II reconstruction, both housing and labour were in short supply. Migrant workers were needed desperately, but government policy required employers to guarantee them housing as well as jobs. In 1948 the Victorian Minister for Transport, Co. (later Sir William) Kent-Hughes, urgently required migrant workers for the Victorian Railways. Since they had to be accommodated, he reasoned that they must bring their own houses 'on their backs'. Hence 'Operation Snail' was born.

As part of Operation Snail, houses were designed in Melbourne for Australian conditions and standards, and mass-produced, largely in England, in the form of kits of pre-cut and partially assembled timber components. They could be quickly erected by a minimal and largely unskilled labour force. The houses were erected in Melbourne, regional Victoria and New South Wales. Partners in the scheme included the Victorian Railways; the State Electricity Commission (the townships of Newborough, Yallourn and Mt Beauty, Kiewa); State Rivers Water and Supply Commission (the township of Eildon): and the Commonwealth Department of Works on behalf of various Armed Services establishments and NSW coalfields.
Description:
On rectangular base, the model includes two houses, one unfinished to show the process. Weatherboard houses, rectangular, with gable roof of corrugated aluminium.
Statement Of Significance:
This model is significant because it represents an important post World War II employment and housing scheme, 'Operation Snail', which brought migrant workers to Victoria and New South Wales. These workers provided critical labour to Victorian Railways; the State Electricity Commission (the townships of Newborough, Yallourn and Mt Beauty, Kiewa); State Rivers Water and Supply Commission (the township of Eildon): and the Commonwealth Department of Works on behalf of various Armed Services establishments and NSW coalfields. Because of a shortage of labour and housing, employers were required to provide housing for their new staff. The 'Operation Snail' scheme was a kit-home scheme, which allowed workers to 'bring their homes on their backs', and was conceived by Victorian Minister for Transport, Co. (later Sir William) Kent-Hughes in 1948. This object provides insights into labour, housing, migration and government policy, as well as into construction technology of the mid twentieth century.
Acquisition Information:
Donation from Mr John Yuncken - Yuncken Freeman Pty.Ltd., 1989
Discipline: History
Dimensions: 314 mm (Height), 625 mm (Width), 915 mm (Length)
Dimension Comment: Base size: 6 x 61 x 92cm - including perspex case

More information

Tagged with: migration settlement, housing estates
Themes this item is part of: Operation Snail Houses, Domestic & Community Life Collection, Public Life & Institutions Collection, Migration Collection, Working Life & Trades Collection
On Display at: Melbourne Museum
Primary Classification: BUILDING & CONSTRUCTION
Secondary Classification: Architectural Design
Tertiary Classification: model homes
Modelmaker: Alpha Displays Pty Ltd, 1989
Date Made: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 1989
Place & Date Used: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 1989

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