Although the camp was housing a large number of Polish families there were still empty huts. With the post-war housing shortage many people in Hereford found themselves homeless for one reason or another. Some of those decided to move onto the camp without permission. Although they were evicted, they returned as they had nowhere else to go and there was no rent to pay.
Squatting became such a problem that in 1950 Hereford Council took over the camp and set about converting the disused hospital wards into housing. By December 1950 the first 36 homes were nearing completion. The Foxley Camp Joint Committee, made up of representatives from Hereford City Council and Weobley Rural District Council agreed that homes would be allocated equally between applicants from Hereford City and Weobley Rural District. The first 18 units were let by March 1951, with most applicants from the Rural District.
Each hospital ward had been converted into seven housing units. These were two or three bedrooms, single storey with an entrance hall and toilet, kitchen and living room. The homes had running water and electricity but no bathrooms.
There was a communal shower block on the camp but many preferred to use a tin bath at home as the Polish community had done since their arrival.
There was still no plaster on the walls inside, so some families pasted newspaper onto the breeze-block and hung wallpaper over the top to make it more homely. There was still only one coal heater in each dwelling so the winters were cold in those houses.The rent was 13s 6d a week and the rent man set up his office in one of the houses, with residents paying their money through the open living room window.
By the time a Primary School was established on the estate in January 1952, the population on the Camp had risen to 1700 and was still growing. This was more than twice the size of Pembridge, the largest Herefordshire village. Despite the size, relations between the two communities was good. A tenants association was set up with an English Chairman, Polish Secretary and a committee of six Poles and six Brits. They liaised with the Council on all matters relating to the Camp.
The amenities on the estate expanded with empty huts being converted to lock-up shops and one converted to public toilets. The licenced club and the grocery shop were run by Mr. Czernay who’s wife was the Secretary of the tenants association. The cinema was still in use, although still only in the summer as no heating had been installed. The camp had a frequent bus service and a library was provided in one of the disused huts by the bus stop. It opened three evenings and two afternoons each week under the supervision of Mrs. Gardner the librarian.
In July 1952 the Council sold off the surplus, disused huts together with surplus equipment such boilers, sinks, cisterns and iron piping. Two of the Canadian huts went to form community halls around the county and some are still in use today.
In 1953 a sub-committee of the Tenants Association, the Coronation Committee, organised celebrations for the Queens Coronation and after a “street” party on the open grassed area, the children were each presented with a commemorative spoon.
Life ticked on for the residents of Foxley with a steady increase in tenants and children attending the school. Like any large housing estate it had its share of petty pilfering and undesirable neighbours but on the whole there was a strong sense of community and a lively social scene. The Polish community continued to hold their colourful Feast day parades and children’s concerts and Sunday School for the British children was held in a large tent in one of the open grassed areas. The social club, dances in the entertainments hall and the cinema all thrived.
However, as time wore on the state of the housing became problematic. When families moved out the houses were left empty and the rats started to move in. The council was spending less on repairs and maintenance as they looked to build homes in the City.
In July 1957 Councillor David Shaw, Chairman of the City Housing Committee, had confirmed that there would be no further allocation of accommodation at Foxley from 1st October. The council were building new houses in the City and aimed to rehouse 100 families per year from Foxley, which would enable the estate to be closed by February 1961.
Building work was slow and families were moved out piecemeal. Those left behind found conditions worsening at an alarming rate. Children played in abandoned huts or in the rubble of those which had been demolished. The council was bombarded with complaints about the state of the housing on the camp and the general conditions of the area.
In July 1959 Councillor David Shaw, then Mayor of Hereford, and a party of councillors undertook an inspection of Foxley Camp. They were shocked by the conditions they found. After picking their way through mud, rubble and squalor they returned to the Town Hall to instruct the Housing Committee to take immediate action to rehouse the families and clear the Camp.
Nothing changed and an exasperated Mr Harold Morgan, the Chairman of the Foxley Tenants Association protested loudly at one of the monthly council meetings. He was removed from the public gallery of the council chamber for “noisy interruptions”. The Foxley tenants also sent a petition to the Ministry of Housing & Local Government demanding a public inquiry. Despite all this, the Camp did not close until March 1961. Even then, 18 families were still living on the estate while the council tried to find them alternative accommodation. The last to leave were the Bradbury family.