The Golden Lion Self-Build Housing Association
1974 - 1977
Phil Bowell
Many thanks to Phil Bowell for this feature.
The Golden Lion Housing Association was started initially from an idea by Karen & Roger Harbor, the idea of a BCAL Self Build Group took some time to get going when unfortunately some people left the group. The entire project ended up taking 3 years - 18 months planning, looking for finance, looking for land and deciding what to build, and 18months for the actually site work.

When it became time to register the name, we adopted the name,  The Golden Lion Housing Association, which we used to the end of the project.

We bought an old WWII Canadian Army Base on the Surrey Sussex border in a village called Rudgwick. The site was called Cape Copse. It site was just over 5½ acres altogether and we had to clear a lot of trees and then build a main road into the site. Included in the road had to be all main foul and surface water drains to a standard acceptable for West Sussex County Council adoption.

Altogether we built 6 bungalows and 11 houses, all detached and all to a very high standard.

We used a company called Guildway who built timber framed houses which we erected by crane and then built a brick skin around.

All members had to do 100 hours per month on site which was in addition to their normal job at BCAL. For non-shift workers this effectively meant no day off for the 18 months of the actual building, which was November 1975 to April 1977.

In addition, several of the members did additional hours for organizing, planning, finance etc which on many occasions took us well over 160 + hours per month.

At the end of the project, total costs exceeded GBP 250,000 which we had borrowed from the Housing Corporation, a government body which loaned finance to organisations similar to ours as well as local governments. We handed a cheque over to their representative Tony Collinson on the last day, officially disbanding the group, and under the watchful eye of a very impressed Mick Sidebotham, Operations Director for BCAL.
The Golden Lion Housing Association Team Members

Standing - Left to Right

Phil Bowell (Chairman), Albert Clemson (Site Foreman), Pearl Clemson, Neil Steffan
Arthur “Mac” MacGuiness, Simon Brain, Greg Davis, Bob Uttley, Mick Bricklayer

Kneeling - Left to Right
“Lucky” Clive’s dog & Site Mascot, Steve Taylor and Alan Stitt

Members not Present
John Brownson, Chris Spence, Clive Clemson, John Lloyd, Ron Butt,
Gary Roberts and Phil Harwood

The members ended up with a high quality property which cost them in the region of GBP 11,000 to 16,000 depending on whether a house or a bungalow and the size of the plot of land they had.

The property they bought had a market value after purchase from the group of between 4 and 5 times the purchase price, this being the value of their time and effort in the group.

Below are some photos taken at the end of the project.
Though the story does not end there. Being housing and built to last, the properties in Cape Copse have been lived in for some 30+ years now and the gardens have all matured. They come on the market from time to time, and one has recently been offered for sale at just under £½ million.
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