Mr Alford discusses some of the early problems with the building of Stevenage
Mr Alford talks about the problem of the “Stevenage clay” which made laying foundations difficult- and caused early problems with housing contracts.
One of our very early problems was the discovery of the Stevenage clay, we all knew of course it was there, but it was a particularly sticky clay, and in the summer subject to enormous shrinkage, when it dried out. Thus when we had to put foundations in for the houses they had to be at least 3 foot 6 inches down into this clay, to be at a depth where they wouldn’t be affected by the shrinkage of the clay in the summer. This was in the early days, led to added expenditure and I think it was probably expenditure which had not been forecast. Coupled with the fact that this clay which was dug out for the foundations where in other housing schemes one might have been able to use this surplus material to put underneath the floor to make up levels; it was such a difficult material to compact, it couldn’t be used. In fact there were some very early problems with housing contracts and builders who wanted to use this, but Mr Aked who was then in charge of the large Monkswood housing contract, I know had to be very firm and stop them using this clay.