Bungalows: how we imported a concept and made it all our own
We have a knack in this country for taking other nation’s ideas and radically altering them to suit our tastes.
India has long been a major source of inspiration, and we owe our modern versions of shampoo, pyjamas, gymkhanas, punch and curry to our historical links with the Sub-Continent.
Another is the bungalow, which comes from the Gujarati bangalo, meaning “Bengali” and was originally “a house in the Bengal style”.
Like the modern British versions of those other imported concepts, the contemporary bungalow owes little to Bengali tradition.
Both tend to be single-storey houses (although are not always), but that’s about where the similarities end.
The first ones in the UK were prefabricated and built in Kent in about 1870, but their popularity soared between the world wars, when they were built in their thousands, particularly in city suburbs and seaside towns.
They enjoyed a renaissance in the 1960s, when they were seen as a thoroughly modern solution to the need for more housing and thousands more were built to expand towns – and, for the first time, villages – up and down the country.
Much of their lasting popularity is due to the fact that their living space is all (or nearly all) on the ground floor, which is why they have long been a favourite among older people who would rather not tackle stairs.
But you don’t have to have limited mobility or be over the age of 65 to appreciate bungalow living; many younger buyers also like the “what you see is what you get” feel of the 2D layout, where rooms are spread out, rather than stacked on top of each other.
There is a dizzying choice of bungalows in our area; the following three are a representative selection and are all currently for sale.
Close to Cold Bath Road in Harrogate, 49 St Mary’s Walk is a great example of the two-storey bungalow, where three of the four bedrooms are on an upper floor, under the sloping roof and illuminated by skylights rather than wall-mounted windows.
The main bedroom has separate en suite toilet and shower rooms, and the other two share the house bathroom. On the ground floor, there is a huge open-plan kitchen-dining area and living room, as well as a utility room, fourth bedroom with en suite shower room, and an integral garage.
Outside, there is off-street parking, a garden with gazebo, and a large metal storage shed. An added attraction is that the property backs onto a strip of woodland that most people don’t even know exists, making it a rare find in this part of town.
In Knaresborough, 64 Chain Lane is a mid-terrace bungalow within walking distance of both Lidl supermarket and King James’s School. It has two bedrooms, a shower room, kitchen and lounge, and outside there are front and back gardens – the back garden south-facing – and off-street parking.
In Boroughbridge, Holmleigh Bungalow is a brick-built terraced property right in the heart of the town. It has just one bedroom, bathroom, kitchen and lounge/dining room. Outside there is a patio garden with off-street parking.