In February of this year I made mention on here of the Mediterranean style villas which once stood overlooking Daisy Broad at Hoveton. Over the last month I have been contacted by two people who had a family connection to one of those villas –Kia Manzi, so thought I’d better post an update!
The postcard on the right, which appears to date from the 1930s, initially sparked my interest in these strange looking properties which were very different to the more traditional holiday bungalows which were being built around Broadland at that time. I’m still no closer to establishing a build date for them, but have received further information about the villa on the far left of the photograph. I was contacted first by Melissa Raynor, and then later by her brother Chris Raynor who confirmed that it was indeed named Kia Manzi and that it had been owned by their grandfather in the 1960s and 1970s. They both have fond memories of childhood summer holidays spent there. Of the name, Chris says; “I believe it was christened Kia Manzi by a retired RAF officer who lived there before my grandad bought it. It’s Swahili, I think, as he had served in Africa and seemed very keen on all things African. The house came to us complete with African ‘tribal’-style bric-a-brac, which as a child, I found a bit frightening.”
In the original blog post about the villas I included a copy of the 1972 brochure entry for the other two villas – Southernholme and Broadwaters – which showed that both had been remodeled into single level holiday lets, the lower floor walls having been removed to leave the upper floor on stilts. It was clearly evident that the properties had sunk over the years! By the late 1960s Kia Manzi had also undergone some remodeling but, unlike its neighbours, it retained the lower floor. The photograph on the left was sent to me by Chris and shows Kia Manzi in the late 1960s or very early 1970s. The old balcony and staircase were removed, new windows and doors were installed and a small conservatory extension was added to the front, with an exterior staircase to the right which Chris remembers was never used! Chris says: “You can see the conservatory and the bay window above come out from the main house slightly. The former was just big enough for a table with 4 chairs around it, so perhaps 5-6 feet deep. The first floor came out no more than the width of the door. Kia Manzi ended up with two bedrooms upstairs (a double and a single), living room upstairs, bathroom. Downstairs was the kitchen (with a convertible single bed/sofa), another double bedroom and another bathroom.”
When you compare the photograph of Kia Manzi with the brochure entries for Broadwaters and Southernholme from 1972, the difference in height between the properties is very noticeable. Chris recalls that they seemed to be at least three feet lower than Kia Manzi and wonders whether the removal of the lower floor walls actually accelerated the subsidence. I guess that the walls would have helped to spread the load, so I think he may well be right. Even at a young age, Chris remembers noticing that the land on which Kia Manzi stood was very peaty and, presumably, it too had also suffered from a certain amount of subsidence as he said you had to walk slightly downhill from the riverbank to the patio doors. Of the building itself he says; “the construction was based on 8 (I think) brick ‘piles’ – though they may have been concrete underground. You can see these on the outside of the house and they appeared similarly on the inside, too. These supported the whole house. The external walls were lightweight breeze blocks, only one block thick, I believe. Some of the internal walls were the same, but most were only studding, with (I think) asbestos cladding. The concrete/asbestos mix, like corrugated roofing, but flat. I suppose plasterboard would have absorbed too much moisture. It was always very damp there, even in summer.”
Many thanks to Chris and Melissa for getting in contact.
11/01/2017: New photographs and more on the Kia Manzi Story added here.