What became known Santon Hostel was the first home in Scunthorpe area for hundreds of families and steelworkers after the housing shortage in Britain following the Second World War. It was an unusual little community just a short distance from the noise and pollution of the works near Dawes Lane, close to Low Santon.
The story of Santon Hostel comes from The North Ironworks which were some distance from Scunthorpe, after the First World War the problem of housing to take up those who were coming to work at the Ironworks called for a speedy solution.
In 1919 the idea was first mooted to build some bungalows at Low Santon, opposite ‘New Row Villas’ but it wasn’t until April 1921 that 40 of them were completed, to serve the need of the men at the North Ironworks – dubbed The Frozen North because of its exposed position.
The new homes were in four blocks of 10, laid out in two streets parallel to one another, each bungalow was of a 4 room design.
Shortly after the Second World War, in 1948, the building of the APEX plant at the Appleby-Frodingham steelworks saw huge influxes of contractors in need of short term accommodation. Some of the bungalows were used for that purpose but the available accommodation could not meet the demand, the solution by the company was to build huts nearby which became known as Santon Hostel.
In the early 1950’s some of the bungalows were used to house those working on the SERAPHIM Project. In the mid 1950’s the huts had been converted into what were described at ‘rather superior living accommodation’ and were used to house men working at Appleby-Frodingham and the Ore Mining branch.
An article in the Appleby-Frodingham Chronical of 1956 reports that hostel accommodation was available to employees in the form of completely refurbished ‘lock-up’ cubicles with a canteen in the centre of the site (see picture right). These consisted of two classes of accommodation – 112 Class 1 cubicles which had a door and a lock, and 128 Class 2 cubicles which just had a draw to curtain.
The Appleby-Frodingham Recorder newspaper reported in 1956 that the bungalows were showing their age, it said, “At the time they were built they were no doubt desirable places for their purpose, but since then we have become accustomed to improved conditions and the bungalows are far below the desirable standard. Today only a very small number of these dwellings are used for married people. One street of bungalows has recently been demolished.”
This left one street remaining.
The closure of the remaining hostel came in 1965.
The closure announcement was given to the Works Council by general works manager George Elliot, who said, “no-one would be thrown out at a minutes notice.”
He recalled that the hostel had come into use at a time when Appleby-Frodingham was short of labour and the town was short of housing. But it was not the company’s job to run hostels and the accommodation problems in the town were easier than before the war.
There was little sign of regret at the news of the closure, the hostel was described as a transit camp, but Mr George Bunch had pointed out that some men had lived there for 12 to 15 years.