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Welwyn Garden City


The Building of Satellite Towns

Author: C. B. Purdom

First published: 1925 by J. M. Dent & Sons Ltd.

Format: Hardback 9½" by 7½" with 368 pages

 

     
 

This book was written by one of the pioneers of Welwyn Garden City only 5 years after building started. The author, C. B. Purdom, was a supporter of Howard's Garden City movement. He worked first at Letchworth, the site of the first garden city, before moving to Welwyn Garden City in 1922, where he became finance director until 1928.

There are over 70 maps, plans and diagrams reproduced in the book. There are nearly 100 black and white photographic plates, mostly half page, some full page, of which about one third are from Welwyn Garden City. These include some early pictures of houses and street scenes and some interior shots.

The book is in four parts.

 

Part I - Introduction - 52 pages.

Part II - Letchworth, the First Garden City - 114 pages.

Part III - Welwyn Garden City, the First Satellite Town - 118 pages.

Part IV - The Practical Problems of Satellite Town-Building - 70 pages.

Charles Benjamin Purdom

(C. B. Purdom, 1883-1965)

(click image to enlarge)

From the preface:

In connection with the housing problem much thought is being given to new methods of construction, but very little to new methods of distribution of houses.

This work is a discussion of the idea of building new towns in the form of satellite towns around the large cities, as an alternative to the continuous suburban growth of the cities over ever wider areas. The subject has become of great practical importance, and is beginning to engage the attention of town-planners and municipal and state authorities throughout the world. A large part of the book is occupied by an account of the organisation, planning and finance of the garden cities of Letchworth and Welwyn, the two satellite towns of London that are now being built.

The author brought out a partly-rewritten and expanded second edition of this book in 1949. I have prepared notes for the second edition on a separate webpage. (Click here for my notes on the 1949 second edition.)

 
     

 

 
         
 
(L) = Letchworth    (W) = Welwyn Garden City   Purdom's own words are in red italic.
 
     
 
CONTENTS
 
     
  PART I - Introduction  
     
  Chapter I
Chapter II
Chapter III
The Expansion of Towns and Cities
The Regional Point of View
What is Meant by Satellite Towns
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  PART II - Letchworth, The First Garden City  
     
  Chapter I
Chapter II
Chapter III
Chapter IV
Chapter V
Chapter VI
Chapter VII
Chapter VIII
Its Establishment and Growth (L)
The Town-Plan (L)
The Shops (L)
The Industries (L)
The Public Services (L)
Agriculture (L)
Finance (L)
Conclusion (L)
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  PART III - Welwyn Garden City, The First Satellite Town  
     
  Chapter I
Chapter II
Chapter III
Chapter IV
Chapter V
Chapter VI
Chapter VII
Chapter VIII
Its Establishment and Growth (W)
The Town-Plan (W)
The Shops (W)
Industries (W)
Public Services (W)
Agriculture (W)
Finance (W)
Conclusion (W)
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  PART IV - The Practical Problems of Satellite Town-Building  
     
  Chapter I
Chapter II
Chapter III
Chapter IV
Chapter V
Chapter VI
Their Planning and Organisation
Their Finance
The System of Agricultural Belts
Some Local Government Questions
Transport and Industry in Connection with Satellite Towns
Conclusion
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  Appendix A - First Garden City Limited (click here)  
  Appendix B - Welwyn Garden City Limited (click here)  
  Appendix C - The Health of School Children at Letchworth (click here)  
     
  List of Illustrations in the Text (click here)  
  List of Plates (click here)  
     

 

 
     
 

(go to contents)

Part I - Introduction

Chapter I. The Expansion of Towns and Cities

The author argues that since ancient times and even into the recent industrial age, cities, some of them, have been planned and have not developed haphazardly. He cites examples, including the market towns of England and the ecclesiastical city of Salisbury. But in the last hundred years things have been different. Cities have expanded by the sale for profit of surrounding estates, while the city centres remain ugly and even more congested. He quotes the official estimate that 2½ million working-class houses will be needed in the next 15 years and that there is a fatalism of the average man who accepts things will go on as they are. The city acts as an attractant for employment while the dispersal of population is for residence only. There is a tendency for some industry to move to towns outside the metropolis but the population has not followed it there (example New York).

In this country as in countries abroad, we are now at a parting of the ways in town-building. We can either allow the old system, or lack of system, to continue ........ or we can make a radical change of method, employing our resources of science and technical skill to make new towns to meet our developing economic requirements and to give greater satisfaction to our social sense. ...... These new towns are to be regarded not as suburbs, but as satellite towns, distinct communities with their own corporate life. In the building of such towns private and public enterprise may combine to make the city a civilising agency worthy of our present-day knowledge and powers. We have arrived at a point where persistent experiment, effort and trial are necessary on a large scale if we are to get towns that really meet the needs of those who live in them, and the satellite town at least provides a means by which this effort may be made.

In the course of this book an endeavour will be made to show that the building of such towns is practicable, and the means by which it can be done will be discussed. The argument will be illustrated by a full description of the two such towns that are already under construction. ..... A regional point of view is necessary, from which the city forms part of a larger whole. And that regional point of view should dominate our conception of city extension.

 
     

 

 
     
 

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(Part I) Chapter II. The Regional Point of View

The author gives many examples of where cities have grown into surrounding towns which have then become part of the city; Los Angeles, Birmingham, Halifax, Swansea, Manchester, the Potteries, towns along the south coast of England, and, of course, London.. Applications in 1920 for extensions of Leeds and Bradford which would have resulted in their merging into one city were rejected, and a Royal Commission on Local Government was set up to enquire into the extensions of county boroughs.

The Regional survey came into being in the War, but the first important one was initiated in 1920 by Dr Addison, Minister of Health, into the South Wales coal-mining region. The report recommended that new housing should be concentrated in a few areas, and that a new dormitory town of 30,000 be built on agricultural land. In the same year, the first Joint Town-Planning Committee under Professor Patrick Abercrombie reported on a 10-mile radius round Doncaster. It recommended new communities of 15,000 to 20,000 "to obtain the benefits of communal existence" while Doncaster City would provide theatres, concert halls, and other central amenities. There was a similar Committee for Manchester in the same year, and others have followed.

To address the problem of slums, the new Unhealthy Areas Committee, chaired by Neville Chamberlain, investigated London, Birmingham, Leeds, Liverpool and South Wales, and recommended that a regional view should be taken on slum rebuilding. The plan for London with over half a million people in unsatisfactory conditions should encompass the home counties. The local area should designate "congested areas" with special restrictions where factories could not be built in place of existing housing.

From the interim report (of the UAC):

Many of the factories now located in London might apparently have been placed elsewhere without any disadvantage to themselves, and we are strongly of opinion that ..... there should be encouraged the starting of new industries and the removal of existing factories to garden cities which should be founded in the country where the inhabitants will live close to their work under the best possible conditions. Generally speaking, these communities should not exceed from 30,000 to 50,000 people, and should be surrounded by a belt of agricultural land for the purpose of health and recreation, and for local food production.

The author continues with discussion on regional planning schemes in other countries: the Seine/Paris reports on Northern France; the Russell Sage regional plan for New York and its environs; the Siedlungsverband Ruhrkohlenbezirk regional planning scheme for the Ruhr coal-mining district of Germany.

The 1924 International Town-Planning Conference at Amsterdam concluded that unlimited expansion of large cities was undesirable, that satellite towns should be built, that green-belts be established, that traffic problems addressed, and that regional plans should be elastic and ensure zoning of land for specific purposes.

 
     

 

 
     
 

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(Part I) Chapter III. What is Meant by Satellite Towns

The author points out that any smaller town near to and dependant on a larger town for business may be called a satellite town. The first specific usage was in 1915 by G.R. Taylor in Satellite Cities referring to towns around Chicago, St Louis and other American cities where industries have escaped congestion and created manufacturers' towns in the surrounding country. A satellite town could be good or bad. However, the term satellite has now come to mean the same as the garden city idea and the two terms are used interchangeably in this book meaning a town with its own corporate identity; not a village nor a suburb.

He goes on to recount Ebenezer Howard's garden city idea in To-morrow (1898) reissued as Garden Cities of To-morrow (1902), in which a town of 32,000 in the heart of the English countryside would secure healthy and beautiful houses and conditions for all classes, reversing the drift to the cites, providing new employment and production and enabling social and economic reforms. 6,000 acres of agricultural land would be purchased and held in trust for the people who would live there. The central one sixth of the area would be for the town, the rest for agriculture to supply the town. Three diagrams from Howard's book are reproduced. He repeats Howard's "magnets" argument where the greater magnetic power of the city over the country to average people would be overcome by the greater still magnetic power of the garden city. He says Howard's idea of combining town and country is expressed in John Stuart Mill's commentary on Wakefield's A View of the Art of Colonisation

"Wakefield’s theory of colonisation has excited much attention, and is doubtless destined to excite much more...... His system consists of arrangements for securing that each colony shall have from the first a town population bearing due proportion to the agricultural, and that the cultivators of the soil shall not be so widely scattered as to be deprived by distance of the benefits of that town population as a market for their produce."

Purdom says the most interesting and original part of Howard's book (based on the growth of Adelaide in Australia) is that there would be a system or "cluster" of towns separated by agricultural land and being "satellites" around the central city.

Howard's book aroused much interest, and in 1903 Letchworth (proposed 35,000) was founded on the model of the garden city, whereas the town near Welwyn (proposed 40,000), was founded in 1920 specifically as a satellite of the metropolis. Other schemes with some elements of the garden city idea have followed, called garden village or garden suburb, while some private speculative schemes have dishonestly appropriated the garden city name. To combat this, the Garden Cities and Town-Planning Association in 1920 defined the garden city thus:

"A garden city is a town designed for healthy living and industry; of a size that makes possible a full measure of social life, but not larger; surrounded by a rural belt; the whole of the land being in public ownership or held in trust for the community."

In the remainder of this chapter, the author describes some other schemes from around the world which possess or are supposed to possess some of the characteristics of the garden city or satellite town. These descriptions are accompanied by plans and illustrations.

The first so described (being in Taylor's Satellite Cities mentioned above) is Gary, Indiana, established by the US Steel Corporation on the shore of Lake Michigan, 26 miles from the centre of Chicago. The Company did not profit from the rise in land values, but through lack of planning, the surrounding land was exploited by speculators. Another example is Fairfield, near Birmingham, Alabama, established by the same Corporation. Both have since been practically swallowed by their respective cities.

The next example is Mariemont, established in 1922, 9 miles east of Cincinnati, by Mary M. Emery and planned by John Nolan and Philip W. Foster. Being a private enterprise estate directly inspired by the garden cities movement, it possesses interesting features, but its small size (420 acres) indicate it is suburban in character.

The Becontree Estate, between Ilford, Barking and Romford was begun in 1919 when the LCC bought 3,000 acres in Essex for a planned 24,000 houses for 120,000 people. Shortage of money meant the plan was cut to 2,000 houses (now gradually increased to 6,000).

The shortcomings of the scheme from the garden city point of view are: (1) that instead of being designed as a definite town with its own civic life it is being developed as a part of the existing urban districts; (2) it is a housing scheme for the working class merely, and does not provide for all classes of the community; (3) its social amenities are unorganised; (4) land between Ilford and the new development was not retained as an agricultural belt; (5) the scheme is not being carried out in relation to the future industrial developments in the area, providing houses for the people to be employed in the new factories; and (6) that as a dormitory town for London it is placed on a site rendered unsuitable because of inadequate road facilities and the existing highly congested state of the railways.

Further schemes having some relation to the garden cities idea which are dealt with more briefly are:

••• The extension of Dundee as proposed by its chief engineer James Thomson in his report of 1918. He urges absolute change from the way the City has expanded so far. He proposes the City Council should acquire agricultural land, should limit in size each combined industrial and housing development, and should separate them from each other and from existing development by open spaces and wooded belts.

••• The proposal for a series of suburbs with likeness to satellite towns round Copenhagen, by a committee under the chief engineer A. Bjerre.

••• The Gartenstadt of Hellerau, 6 kilometres North of Dresden, founded by Karl Schmidt (the arts and crafts pioneer) and Wolf Dohrn, from a plan by Professor Riemerschmidt, supported by Jaques Dalcroze (founder of Eurhythmics). It has a beautiful school building and festival hall designed by Professor Tessenow.

••• Hilversum in Holland, 10 miles from Amsterdam and 7 miles from Utrecht, which has now become practically a satellite of those 2 cities under municipal architect W. M. Dudok.

••• Vreewyk estate developed by the city of Rotterdam, laid out by Dr H. P. Berlage in 1913 with architects Granpré Moliere, Vehagen and Kok; de Roos and Orcreijnder; and Meischke and Schmidt.

••• The lineal city near Madrid, projected by Don Arturo Soria y Mata in 1882, and carried out by Compañia Madrileña de Urbanización. A town built in straight lines.

••• Theoretical projects by Professor Adolf Rading for Breslau, by Herr Paul Wolf, by M. Jules Scrive-Loyer, by Raymond Unwin with his diagram for "garden city principal applied to suburbs", and by Robert Whitten of Cleveland, Ohio.

The schemes and plans we have described and the improved standard of house-building and lay-out in most countries of the world provide, however, unmistakable evidence of the influence of garden city ideas. Under that influence it has become the habit to refer to town-planning or housing as "on garden city lines." This matter was mentioned in the earlier part of this chapter, and though many housing and estate development schemes in most countries of the world may quite properly be regarded as owing something to garden city ideas, the indiscriminate use of the above-mentioned phrase is not desirable, for, as the survey we have just made has shown, the real significance of the garden city is markedly absent from them. The association of the principle of "twelve houses to the acre" with the garden city accounts, perhaps, for a good deal of the incorrect use of the term "garden city." Many people think that to lay out a site with ample garden space is to plan on "garden city lines." Indeed, it is probable that town-planners themselves have been too much inclined to accept the principle of open development, without giving sufficient attention to the effect of such development upon the size and structure of towns.

Fortunately it is possible to show in concrete form the real meaning of garden cities. It is to the credit of England that it possesses, so far, the two schemes in the world that embody the full conception of garden city or satellite town building, and to a description of these garden cities we now come.

 
     

 

 
     
 

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Part II - Letchworth, the First Garden City

Chapter I. Its Establishment and Growth (L)

The author reminds us that Howard formed the Garden City Association in 1899 (renamed in 1909 to the Garden Cities and Town Planning Association and to the Town and Country Planning Association in 1941). In 1902 it issued a manifesto ending with:

The building of the first garden city will be begun as soon as a suitable estate can be acquired. The land will be purchased at agricultural prices, and the town laid out section by section on a premeditated plan, by the aid of manufacturers and others who agree to take sites. Each house will stand in its own garden, and the town will be surrounded by a permanent belt of agricultural land. The necessary capital will receive a limited return, and the balance of the increment would be applied for the benefit of the community.

A great deal of interest was generated among eminent people. The Port Sunlight and Bournville experiments were in the public eye at the time. In July 1902, a company was formed called The Garden City Pioneer Company Ltd, with a share capital of £20,000, to investigate sites and establish the first garden city. Letchworth was chosen, and in September 1902 the First Garden City Ltd company was formed with authorised shared capital of £300,000. (See Appendix A below for the details.) The object of the company as expressed in its memorandum of association was:

To promote and further the distribution of the industrial population upon the land upon the lines suggested in Mr. Ebenezer Howard's book entitled Garden Cities of To-morrow ... and to form a garden city, that is to say, a town or settlement for agricultural, industrial, commercial and residential purposes, or any of them, in accordance with Mr. Howard's scheme or any modification thereof.

The property purchased by the company consisted of 3822 acres, obtained by private treaty from fifteen different owners for £152,751, and costing, after payment of legal expenses, etc., and the costs of the Pioneer Company, a total of £160,378, or an average of £42 per acre. The estate was 34 miles from London on the Great Northern Railway branch line to Cambridge, which bisected the estate diagonally from south-west to north-east. The old market town of Hitchin was 1½ miles from the western boundary, and the little town of Baldock adjoined it on the east. The village of Letchworth consisted of twelve cottages, a manor-house (partly disused), a church and rectory, and a population of about 50; it was so very small that it did not contain an inn or a post-office or a shop of any kind. The area of the parish was nearly one-third of the whole property. The estate also included Norton village, consisting of a few cottages and farm-houses with a vicarage, a church, an inn, and a population of about 200; part of the village of Willian on the south, which had a population of about 200; and a small part of the village of Radwell on the extreme north-east. All the villages were on the outskirts, the centre of the estate, through which ran the railway, being entirely devoid of buildings; it consisted of gently undulating land, practically all of it under cultivation, about 300 feet above sea-level, The estate sloped away from the centre in every direction, giving at various points very fine views towards the south-west, west and north east. There was no great amount of timber, and the estate possessed few attractive natural features; but a piece of common land of about seventy acres just north of the railway, near the centre, relieved what would otherwise have been a rather monotonous piece of country, though characteristic of Northern Hertfordshire.

(L) Letchworth Garden City Estate and the surrounding country in 1903

(click image to enlarge)

The author gives much detail on the beginnings of the town which makes very good reading. This is a very brief summary.

Work started with drainage and securing a water supply. A temporary station was made and services started in 1905, although development of the town began before that. It acquired a reputation as a town for "cranks", not deserved according to Purdom. The name Letchworth Garden City was chosen (the major part of the town being in the Parish of Letchworth), but the town became known as just Letchworth.

Development proceeded by provision of roads and public services first, followed by the laying out of building plots and leasing them. The first roads constructed were Norton Way, Station Road, Ridge Road, Works Road and Ley Avenue. Houses were built by individuals for their own use or for investment. The company did no building apart from workmen's cottages. A number of small builders were attracted to the town.

(L) South View

Crickmer & Foxley, Architects

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(L) South Place

Crickmer & Foxley, Architects

(click image to enlarge)

The policy was to start the building near the outskirts and work towards the centre. A large proportion (over 50%) of the houses built were owner-occupied. The council provided loans for buyers under the Small Dwellings Acquisitions Act. Among the architects were Raymond Unwin, Barry Parker, H. N. Baillie Scott, Charles Spooner, Halsey Ricardo, Geoffrey Lucas, C. Harrison Townsend, Allen Foxley, C. M. Crickmer, H. Clapham Lander, Bennett & Bidwell, C. H. Hignett, W. H. Cowlishaw, P. Morley Horder.

One of the most interesting domestic buildings is Homesgarth, a co-operative housekeeping enterprise, started by Mr. Ebenezer Howard in 1909. It consists of a group of houses and flats forming a quadrangle, with a common dining-room and service. The undertaking is conducted by Letchworth Co-operative Houses Ltd.

Another interesting scheme on somewhat similar lines, but without the large central organisation, is Meadow Way Green, a group of co-operative houses built by the Howard Cottage Society Ltd. in 1915 and since extended. The original scheme consisted of nine cottages and one flat forming a half-quadrangle, the intention being to build the remaining half later. Each cottage and flat has a living-room, scullery, bathroom and w.c., six cottages have two bedrooms, two have four, and the flat has two. The average net rent is 11s. 7d. per week, the gross rent (including rates) being 14s. 1d.; originally the gross rents were 10s. 5d. There is a common dining-room and kitchen, the charge for which is included in the rents. There are service charges amounting to 2s. 6d. per week and 8d. per week for upkeep of the garden. Mid-day dinner only is provided co-operatively, the present cost being 1s. 2d. each person. The staff consists of a woman who comes in daily to cook and wash up, with the services of a charwoman one day a week. The administration is in the hands of a committee composed of the whole of the tenants, who themselves fix prices and exercise general control, each lady tenant in turn being responsible for the catering for a period of two weeks. The full committee meets monthly. There is no central heating, each cottage and flat having its own hot-water system. The furnishing of the common dining-room and kitchen is provided by the Howard Cottage Society Ltd. and a charge of 15 per cent. upon the outlay is included in the service charge. Tenants are interviewed and selected by representatives of the tenants' committee.

The primary object of the town being better living conditions for the workers, Letchworth contains working class houses of excellent types. In 1905, Mr J. St Loe Strachey organised The Cheap Cottages Exhibition, 121 cottages being built experimentally in a variety of materials and methods of construction.

The first industries established in the town in 1905 were Heatly-Gresham Engineering Co Ltd, and the Garden City Press Ltd. Others followed including large ones in printing and bookbinding. An industrial and provident society Garden City Tenants Ltd was formed to build cottages on a co-partnership basis. As the demand for houses was not being met, a company called Letchworth Cottages and Buildings Ltd was formed to build cottages to let. The Housing Act of 1909 allowed loans to be made on special terms to public utility societies, and some of these societies were formed.

(L) Pre-war workmen's houses (1908) in Common View

Crickmer & Foxley, Architects

(click image to enlarge)

 

(L) Workmen's houses built by a public Utility Society (1913) - a

Bennett & Bidwell, Architects

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(L) Workmen's houses built by a public Utility Society (1913) - b

Parker & Unwin, and C. M. Crickmer, Architects

(click image to enlarge)

The numbers of cottages built pre-war by the societies was:

Garden City Tenants, Ltd.
305
Letchworth Cottages and Buildings, Ltd.
193
Howard Cottage Society, Ltd.
397
National Cottage Society, Ltd.
65
Norton Cottage Society, Ltd.
6
Letchworth Housing Society, Ltd.
94
 
Total
1060

...after the war, when the Coalition Government’s Housing Act was passed, the local authority was ready with its plans for building, and was one of the first public authorities in the country to have its housing scheme approved. The first post-war cottages at Letchworth were better planned, better built, larger, and in almost every way superior to the pre-war houses.

(L) Workmen's houses built by a public Utility Society (1906)

Parker & Unwin, Architects

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(L) Lytton Avenue, Workmen's houses built by a public Utility Society (1907)

C. M. Crickmer, Architect

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(L) The District Council's housing schemes (1919-1921)

Crickmer & Foxley, Architects

(click image to enlarge)

Raymond Unwin was among the first to advocate proper planning for workers' cottages rather than leaving them to the builder and land speculator. After the 1905 exhibition, Letchworth became a centre of study for cottage planning by architects. The district council built 707 cottages under the 1919 Housing Act, 48 under the 1923 Housing Act, with a further 178 in hand.

(L) The District Council's housing schemes (1919-1921)

Crickmer & Foxley, Architects

(click image to enlarge)

 

(L) Pixmore Way

(click image to enlarge)

Most of the Letchworth Estate was in the 3 existing parishes of Letchworth, Norton and Willian, with almost all of it in the county of Hertford, though 2 small areas were in Bedfordshire. In 1807, the Local Government Board issued an order creating the new civil parish of Letchworth which elected its first council of 15 members in 1908 with chairman Rt. Hon. Sir John Gorst. The parish council and the rural district council worked together until, in 1919, the parish council was converted into Letchworth Urban District and became separated from the rural district.

(L) Lay-out under the Housing Act, 1919

Crickmer and Foxley, Architects

(click image to enlarge)

Ultimately the council may absorb the powers and position of the Garden City Company, though for that special legislation would be necessary. The council keeps in touch with the Garden City Company by means of a committee which meets the board of directors of the company about four times a year.

(L) Norton Way

(click image to enlarge)

 

(L) Meadow Way

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The first school in temporary buildings was a non-provided one under the Education Act, with parents paying some of the cost. This was not a success because of shortage of funds, and was transferred to a new school built by the county council. There are now 2 more (by 1925) and an infants' school at the Pixmore Institute. The first private school opened in 1905 in what is now Arundale House. This building is now (1925) the boarding house of St Christopher School, built at the junction of the Broadway and Spring Road, and conducted by the Theosophical Educational Trust. It is co-educational and takes children until ready for university or other training. It is considered a foremost pioneer school in Europe and attracts hundreds of visitors annually.

"The Letchworth Book Club is an institution founded primarily to enable the private libraries of the inhabitants to be made available, under certain conditions, for public use. A catalogue of all books which private owners are willing to allow other people to have the use of is kept, and by means of a system of collection the books that are required by readers are borrowed from the owners, delivered to borrowers at a central library, and afterwards returned to the owners. The book club has now premises of its own, with the nucleus of a public library, and its system of borrowing has worked admirably."

(L) Letchworth Free Church, Norton Way (1924)

Barry Parker, F.R.I.B.A., Architect

(click image to enlarge)

 

(L) Wesleyan Methodist Church (1914)

George Baines & Son, Architects

(click image to enlarge)

 

(L) St Michael's Church (1907)

C. M. Crickmer & E. H. Heazell, Architects

(click image to enlarge)

The first church to be built was the Free Church, followed by Friends' Meeting House (1907), St Hugh's Catholic (1908), Wesleyan Methodist (1914) and Primitive Methodist (1914). The first hall was the Howard Memorial Hall (1906) built by subscription in memory of Howard's first wife. The Pixmore Hall (now a school) opened in 1908, and a kinema in 1910. There are other halls, a theatre, Conservative Club, the Letchworth Club (for men and women), and other sports clubs. The UDC recreation ground is 12 acres.

There is a table (not reproduced here) showing population, births and deaths and rates of certain diseases. See also Appendix (c) below.

(L) Sollershott East (1910)

Parker & Unwin, Architects

(click image to enlarge)

 

(L) Homesgarth (1910)

[later renamed Sollershott House]

H. Clapham Lander, F.R.I.B.A., Architect

(click image to enlarge)

 

(L) A house on Wilbury Road

Barry Parker, F.R.I.B.A., Architect

(click image to enlarge)

 

(L) A house on Garth Road

Crickmer & Foxley, Architects

(click image to enlarge)

 

(L) A bedroom in the architect's house

Barry Parker, F.R.I.B.A., Architect

(click image to enlarge)

 

(L) A house in Letchworth Lane

Barry Parker, F.R.I.B.A., Architect

(click image to enlarge)

There were 2 pubs owned by the Company, but situated just outside the town, one in Willian, the other at Norton. The question of whether there should be a new one in the centre near the station was hotly debated. Polls were held amongst the inhabitants in 1907, 1908, 1912, 1920 and 1924 all resulting in a "No" majority. The Conservative Club and the Letchworth Golf Club are both licensed.

There was steady growth of building and factory development in the town before the War. During the War, it became the home of about 3000 Belgian refugees, many of whom were skilled men who worked in engineering shops on munitions. The town prospered but there was little building work done. After the War, steady growth was resumed.

Year
No. of new
Est. expenditure on
Population
 
buildings
new buildings (£)
 
1903
-
-
400
1904
36
12,000
450
1905
280
90,000
1,500
1906
507
237,500
2,500
1907
970
314,000
4,300
1908
1,104
340,275
5,250
1909
1,206
365,300
5,700
1910
1,334
404,500
6,500
1911
1,564
462,700
7,300
1912
1,761
517,705
7,912
1913
1,880
577,705
8,500
1914
1,984
614,015
9,000
1915
2,160
666,361
11,500
1916
2,296
723,000
12,500
1917
2,296
723,000
12,500
1918
2,298
724,200
12,500
1919
2,345
771,200
10,000
1920
2,715
1,141,200
10,200
1921
3,070
1,496,200
10,500
1922
3,138
1,550,600
11,500
1923
3,219
1,625,400
12,500
1924
3,349
1,729,400
13,500

Letchworth has always been noted for its social life. The pleasant friendly atmosphere that existed among the first inhabitants, which made the experience of those who were fortunate enough to take a part in the founding of the town so unforgettable, has remained, and the town to-day has homely qualities, a freshness of sentiment in its population and a welcoming air that is very unusual. The old towns have their traditions and their memories; the new suburbs have nothing around which a sense of community can centre; but the garden city, built for a purpose, influenced by an ideal, has a spirit of spontaneous fellowship which makes for social life. That social activity expresses itself in the societies and clubs that are formed for study, recreation, sport and everything else. It is found also in the churches that are founded, in the schools that are set up, and throughout the daily lives of the people. Its tendency is to lessen class and other distinctions between people and to bring about a community of interest which is splendid material for building up the city. In Letchworth this spirit owed a great deal to the novelty of the scheme and is not likely to be repeated precisely in the same degree elsewhere. But the essential parts of it may be considered to belong to an attempt to make a new town, which always and everywhere, no matter how often repeated, is likely to fascinate and inspire those who engage in it.

 
     

 

 
     
 

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Chapter II. The Town-Plan (L)

(L) Parker and Unwin's original plan of Letchworth Garden City

(click image to enlarge)

The author points out that the features of the site which needed to be taken into account were: the railway line which ran east-west cutting the town in half, perhaps to be used to separate residential from industrial areas; the slight valley through the middle running south-east north-west which would affect the design of the drainage system; level land suitable for factories mainly on the east; the only main road (Hitchin to Cambridge) parallel to the railway but ¾ mile south; the woodlands such as Norton Common. The population was to be 30,000 to 35,000, with provision for factory sites, and preservation of a surrounding agricultural belt.

The main road of the town, Broadway, was created to run from the Hitchin road to the station, with the town square on a level part of it. A second important road, Norton Way was made parallel to Broadway to the east. The factory area was to be to the east of that, sheltered by rising ground and trees, from most of the housing. Norton Common and Howard Park (both with trees) were retained as open spaces. Letchworth Park to the south west was laid out as a golf course.

Of the 3,822 acres purchased, 1,250 acres were the town area, the remainder being the agricultural belt. A further 730 acres were purchased. Barry and Unwin were made consulting architects to the company, but Raymond Unwin did little after 1907 and retired in 1914, since when Barry Parker did all the work.

(L) The Friends Meeting House

Bennett & Bidwell, Architects

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(L) The Broadway - a

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(L) The Broadway - b

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Following the preparation of the town-plan, a pamphlet for guidance of intending builders in the new town was issued, as were bye-laws on drainage and building regulations as specified by the company. The companies estate department was responsible for carrying out the town-plan in consultation with the architects. The plan showing the state of development to 1925 (below) shows that the plan was largely adhered to, but there were some changes. The plan for a formal shopping area to the north of the station was upset by the siting there of the 1905 cottages exhibition.

(L) The Letchworth Town-Plan, showing development up to January 1925

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Purdom criticises some aspects of development, particularly the siting of shops. For example, Station Road has shops on one side and houses on the other and is not satisfactory.

(L) A view on Broadway

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(L) Rushby Mead: workmen's houses

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(L) The Museum on the Town square

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(L) A house in Norton Road

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The characteristic feature of Letchworth is the open lay-out of the roads and houses so that the whole town preserves some of the features of a park. All roads are planted with trees, with greenswards along all but the busiest roads and some of the narrower residential roads; and the hedges to the house-plots, and the trees, shrubs and flowers in the gardens give the town a rural appearance at all times. The street trees add much to the attractiveness of the town, and on the whole they have been well chosen.

Purdom includes in the book a list of the tree species planted in each road (not reproduced here).

The author discusses the problems encountered by the architects in attempting to enforce their ideas on both speculative builders and those building a house for themselves with their own architect. The company did not want to inhibit the letting of sites, and in the end the client and his architect got pretty much what they wanted. The result is lack of uniformity, and individualistic character of most of the houses, some good, some bad. However, every street is pleasant to see especially because of the attractive grass verges and gardens.

 
     

 

 
     
 

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Chapter III. The Shops (L)

The author tells us that in the beginning, an attempt supported by Howard was made to persuade the CWS to provide shops for the town, but a meeting in London in 1904 failed to attract supporters. The first sites for shops were laid out and let at 99-year leases in Station Road in 1905. Those built had living accommodation over. Others followed in Ley Avenue. Branches of multiples were beginning to come in. A co-operative enterprise called Garden City Small Holdings Ltd was formed to sell produce from the agricultural belt, but did not succeed because of irregularity of supply (shortages then gluts).

(L) The Shopping Centre, Leys Avenue

Bennett & Bidwell, Architects

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(L) The Arcade (1923)

Bennett & Bidwell, Architects

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(L) A group of shops erected in 1909

Crickmer & Foxley, Architects

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(L) Station Place (1923)

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After the war a shop-building company, which had been started just before War broke out, built a number of shops and developed the site at the apex of Station Road/Leys Avenue. An arcade was included. The numbers of shops in 1913 and in 1924 are listed in the book. The number of butchers went from 1 to 10 in that period.

(L) The Shopping Area

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Whereas, before the War, the shops on the whole did not prosper, with most people going to Hitchin or Baldock to do their shopping, more recently this was reversed and the town was attracting shoppers from elsewhere in Hertfordshire.

Apart from the central shops, there were small stores at Norton, Letchworth Corner, Pixmore Avenue and Spring Road.

 
     

 

 
     
 

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Chapter IV. The Industries (L)

The author writes:

The idea at Letchworth was to create conditions in which industry would be better off than in the large congested towns on the one hand and in isolated country districts on the other. The factory area was placed to the east of the estate on both sides of the railway in such a position that it was out of sight of the greater part of the town and where the prevailing winds would carry away from the residential area any smoke there might be. The extent of the factory area is about 135 acres. A secondary small factory area of about ten acres, not provided for in the original town-plan, has been developed to the west of the railway passenger station on the north of the railway line for factories not needing siding accommodation. The main factory area is served with railway sidings so that it has direct contact with the railway ....

The first factory was Heatly-Gresham Engineering which moved from Cambridge. The Garden City Press Ltd was a co-partnership venture set up by a group of men from Leicester. W. H. Smith moved its bookbindery from London, and the Arden Press (now owned by publishers Dent) came from Leamington.

(L) The Factory Area

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To start with the Garden City Company did not build factories itself, but did provide a "tenement" factory, ready in 1914, which provided for separate tenancies for firms starting up.

Letchworth offered many attractions for industry. Rents and rates were low. The Company offered planning for buildings and supervision of erection. Utility supplies were good and cheap. Railway sidings were available. Healthy workers' housing was plentiful and nowhere better, and there was an attractive social life with space and air.

Purdom lists the current manufacturers by category as follows:

Baby Carriages: Marmet Ltd.
Bookbinders: The North Herts Co-operative Bookbinding Works Ltd.
Corsets: The Spirella Company of Great Britain Ltd.
Embroidery: M. and J. Herz and Falk.
Engineers: The Bowyer-Lowe Company Ltd.
  T. H. Dixon and Company Ltd.
  Ewart and Son Ltd.
  Furmston and Lawlor.
  The Heatly-Gresham Engineering Company Ltd.
  Kryn and Lahy Metal Works Ltd.
  Lacre Motor Car Company Ltd.
  Lloyds and Company (Letchworth) Ltd.
  L. Lumley and Company Ltd.
  Phœnix Motors Ltd.
  Shelvoke and Drewry Ltd.
  Shirtliff Brothers Ltd.
  Speedwell Press Company.
  The Westinghouse Morse Chain Company Ltd.
Food Products: The Garden City Pure Food Company Ltd.
Furniture: D. Meredew.
Laundry: Pioneer Garden City Laundry Ltd.
Lens Making: Kryptok Ltd.
Office Appliances: The British Tabulating Machine Company Ltd.
Organs: A. W. Hayter and Son.
Photographic Paper: Kosmos Photographics Ltd.
Printers: A. G. Bennett and Company.
  J. M. Dent and Sons Ltd.
  Garden City Press, Limited
  Letchworth Printers, Limited
  G. W. Wardman
Rubber Manufacturers: The Garden City Rubber Company.
Scientific Instruments: W. J. Brooks and Company.
  Foster Instrument Company.
  Sigma Instrument Company.
Seed Growing and Testing: Country Gentlemen Association, Ltd.
Smallware: Brown Manufacturing Company, Ltd.
Timber Merchants: J. T. Stanton and Company, Ltd. Weaving Works:
  Edmund Hunter, St. Edmundsbury Weaving Works.
Woodworkers: Woodworkers, Ltd.
Woolworking: R. Haworth.
  Letchworth Hosiery Company.

Most have come from outside but the largest are new businesses (Marmet, Spirella, Kryn & Lahy).

(L) The Spirella factory

Making the printed frame....................The Cutting room

Dining room...........................Balcony and machine floor

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(L) The front of the Spirella factory

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(L) Part of machine-room, Garden City Press

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(L) A factory producing office appliances

C. H. Hignett, Architect

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(L) Scientific instrument works [an interior view]

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The author surveyed the manufacturers on their opinions of Letchworth as an industrial centre. He sets out at length (not reproduced here) their responses which are overwhelmingly favourable. The railway facilities and postal services were criticised, as was the lack of workers' housing and lack of popular amusements to attract workers.

 
     

 

 
     
 

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Chapter V. The Public Services (L)

The author tells us that, at the beginning, the Garden City Company constructed all roads, the sewerage system, and water, gas and electricity supplies. A section of the Broadway from Hitchin Road to Spring Road was the first constructed. Experience has shown that the greenswards (grass verges) are impracticable where foot traffic is heavy and were removed, but elsewhere are satisfactory once established so long as they are kept cut and have paved accesses to all the buildings with frontages. The roads were contracted out at first, but then the Company used its own staff to build them. After the War roads were out to contract again. Maintenance is by the Company for some, the urban district for others, and the county council for others.

A major work was the construction in 1911 of a new bridge to carry the railway over Norton Way, the cost being shared between the Company, the railway, and the 2 councils.

The drainage system, designed by G. R. Strachen, was entirely by gravitation, and was a separate system. The sewage was first disposed of by broad irrigation on temporary sites which lasted much longer than had been thought. In 1923 a permanent works on the extreme north of the estate was constructed according to the original plan. Surface drainage is still mainly by the brook which runs through the town and only gradually are surface-water sewers being laid.

The district council provided a burial ground and handles refuse disposal.

For some years the refuse was dumped at various spots on the agricultural belt, but the council has now constructed a pulveriser at a cost of £3,500, which deals with 3000 tons of house-refuse per annum. Rags, paper and tins are sorted by hand, pressed and baled, and the remainder of the refuse is converted by the pulveriser into a material which makes an excellent fertiliser, which is readily disposed of. The net running costs of the plant, after crediting receipts from sales of rags, etc, and the fertiliser, amount to 4s. 8½d. per ton, to which must be added the cost of collection, which is 3s. 5d. per ton.

The water supply system (designed by G. R. Strachem) has its pumping station on the Baldock Road just outside the town area, 300 feet above sea-level. The first borehole was 220 feet deep and was tested up to 6,000 gallons per hour. The reservoir was constructed on the Weston Hills at 465 f.a.s. The system now has 50,000 g.p.h. capacity and supplies Baldock as well as Letchworth.

The gas works was constructed in the factory area and has had to be extended to meet increasing demand by the factories and domestic gas cookers.

The electrical supply system was produced by O'Gorman & Cozens-Hardy and generated 500 volt d.c. from gas suction engines. These were superseded by diesel engines and then steam turbines as demand increased enormously being now nearly 3 megawatt. The supply was laid on to industry only at first, but has been gradually laid on to the whole town. The system also supplies Baldock and Biggleswade.

A temporary railway station and goods yard were opened in 1905, and a permanent station in 1912. The line connects to the G.E.R. through Cambridge, to the L.N.E.R. through Hitchin and on from there to the L.M.S. through Bedford. Since 1912, a motor omnibus service runs to Luton via Hitchin.

 
     

 

 
     
 

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Chapter VI. Agriculture (L)

(L) Norton Village

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(L) On the agricultural belt

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(L) Small-holder's cottage

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The author informs us that the total estate area is now 4,548 acres of which 3,000 is agricultural. The land was originally let as 9 farms and 4 small-holdings. One third was pasture, the rest arable. The buildings were neglected and the land poorly cultivated. The total population of the area was 400, with many of those employed outside the estate. The tenants were given notice (mostly a year) to quit and new agreements made with them if they agreed to give up one-tenth of their land in any one year in return for compensation. Some, being resentful, created difficulties, but fortunately the two holding land in the centre of the estate were sympathetic to the Company's aims. As time passed, the larger farms were divided into smaller holdings, buildings were improved, and farming standards raised.

There were 2 attempts to establish small-holdings on what were the farms, but the Company had no money to build the homesteads. The Company offered 99-year leases on quarter-acre building plots for homesteads, plus 21-year leases on an area of land for cultivation. An exhibition of houses suitable was organised, but in the end none of the applicants was successful. Then a society called Norton Small Holdings Limited was formed by E. O. Fordham, Lord Lucas, Sir Richard Winfrey, and C. R. Buxton, which rented land, built cottages, and let off holdings of up to 20 acres to tenants, but this scheme was also not successful - only 12 cottages were built.

The main products of the agricultural belt are fruit and dairy. The land has not been organised to supply the town as was intended. However, cultivation has improved enormously, wages are higher, and more are employed than originally (80 agricultural occupiers compared to the original 13). In addition, the townsmen and factory workers benefit from the close contact with agriculture, and the prosperity of surrounding villages has improved.

(L) Plan of Letchworth showing the agricultural belt owned by the Garden City Company

(click image to enlarge)

 
     

 

 
     
 

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Chapter VII. Finance (L)

The author tells us that First Garden City Limited was a joint-stock company with special clauses in its memorandum and articles of association which embody the aim of distributing industrial population back to the land in accordance with Howard's book, by creating a garden city. The maximum dividend on the ordinary shares was not to exceed 5%, and the surplus was to be used for the benefit of the town's inhabitants.

The authorised share capital of £300,000 comprised 59,400 ordinary shared at £5, and 3,000 at £1. The total allotted so far (1924) reached £194,749. The money was not raised on the money markets, but from people interested in the scheme.

The directors did not expect to be paying dividends for some time, but expected that the undertaking would pay in the long term. In 1906, the directors decided to raise money by offering (to shareholders only) debentures (loans on company assets with interest payable immediately). The debentures were not to replace the ordinary shares, more of which were offered in subsequent years. In 1913, a first dividend of 1% was paid on ordinary shares, but outbreak of war put things on hold. In 1915, more debentures were issued, and in 1916, 10,000 of the 3% shares were issued as preference shares at a fixed 5% per annum. More debentures were issued after the war. Payment of dividends on ordinary shares resumed in 1918 at 2½%, with the same in the next 3 years. In 1922, 4% was paid and 1923 the full 5% was reached.

Several tables showing the financial position of the company in the years 1904 to 1924 are reproduced in the book. These are:

••• The capital raised by the Company from year to year
••• Expenditure of the Company on land and development
••• Expenditure on water, gas and electricity works
••• Receipts from rents and other sources
••• Yearly balances on the revenue account

There follows a complicated argument about the value of the Company. The directors thought the accounts (which showed annual losses) did not accurately reflect its true value. They employed a firm to prepared a valuation of the estate. The figure arrived at (September 1907) was £379,500. The total expenditure had been £265,831, so the appreciation was £113,669. This, the directors thought, was the real position, but it could not be employed for the purpose of paying dividends because it was not realisable.

After this, I completely lose the plot and have not bothered to summarise the last 20 pages of this chapter. I think they are there in the book to explain why it took so long for the directors to pay dividends on the ordinary shares. It has to do with the fact that agricultural land was being turned into valuable building land, but that that increase in value could not be realised as it would have been for a normal investment. The amount of detail the author gives on this topic must be due to the fact that he was the Company's accountant.

 
     

 

 
     
 

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Chapter VIII. Conclusion (L)

The author concludes that the experiment of Letchworth has shown that the planning of a town fit to live in according to garden city principles can have a sound financial basis. There were disadvantages in the site for this first experiment. The relatively slow growth of the town was a disappointment to its directors. However, the undertaking was a daring one, carried out under unfavourable financial conditions, and had no official support. Despite this one cannot but admire the achievement of a town which is a credit to those who have built it.

 
     

 

 
     
 

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Part III - Welwyn Garden City, the First Satellite Town

Chapter I. Its Establishment and Growth (W)

The author says:

After the war, when there was much talk of necessary reconstruction, and visions of a better world were in men's minds, the housing question was one of the first to be dealt with. There was a great, even overwhelming, shortage of houses throughout the land, and at the same time a strong desire to improve the conditions a great mass of the people were living. The pressure upon Government and the municipalities became intense, and the Housing Act passed in 1919 was the outcome of an intention to do something big at almost any sacrifice. The country was ready for any scheme that would enable the problem to be tackled in a large, generous and thorough manner.

.... although the Housing Act of 1919 was popularly supposed to be a great garden city measure, it produced no garden cities, and was indeed almost the worst legislation that could have been devised from a garden city point of view. The great desire of those responsible for that legislation was to get the largest number of houses built in the shortest possible time in places where the demand was most pressing. Every other consideration, with one exception, was subordinated to that. The exception was that the houses were to be well planned, and the sites well laid out. But, as we now know, through the over-organisation of demand without sufficient provision for means of supply, the 1919 Act broke down completely, and though many houses were built, not even the beginnings of a national housing scheme or policy resulted from the efforts that were made.

.... the outstanding fault of the Coalition Government’s housing policy was that no attempt was made to establish a system of distribution of houses. The country was divided into regions with a local commissioner in charge of each, but no use was made of this regional organisation for the purpose of associating the building of houses with industrial development on a scientific plan. Houses were built where the immediate demand was most insistent, and no considerations of town-planning or town-economy were allowed to interfere. Although the housing schemes were often proudly described as "garden cities", the lessons of Letchworth were ignored, except so far as house-planning and site-planning were concerned; and the achievements of the garden city in bringing town and country together, and in providing by a comprehensive development scheme an economic basis in improved land values for housing finance, were treated as though they were unknown.

The author mentions 3 publications of the time which discuss garden city principles and national housing policies: The Garden City after the War (Purdom, 1917); New Towns after the War (Osborn, Purdom & Taylor, 1918); A National Housing Policy (National Garden Cities Committee, 1918).

In 1919, the Garden Cities and Town-Planning Association presented to Dr Addison, President of the Local Government Board, a memorandum stated:

.... The significance of the present situation is that it arises when the increasingly definite demands of the working classes for improved conditions of life are accompanied by a powerful movement on the part of industry for better manufacturing facilities, and by a pressing need for agricultural reconstruction. It is because the garden city principle is believed to be a means by which the whole range of these demands may be approached with some hope of meeting them, that we wish seriously to urge its recognition upon the Government....

The memorandum went on to urge that a report be prepared on the possibility of development of new industrial centres on garden city principles, and that as part of the housing bills before parliament a National Town Planning Commission be established and Regional Commissioners be appointed.

Dr Addison replied that there was not time to attend to such matters until the housing problem had been dealt with. Attempts in parliament to insert a garden cities clause into the bill failed.

Mr. Ebenezer Howard was convinced that an attempt should be made to start a second garden city without waiting for official support and discovering that an area of land in Hertfordshire, which had already been considered a good site for a new scheme, was to be put up for auction in the early summer of 1919, he determined that the opportunity should not be lost. He therefore raised sufficient money from various friends to enable him to instruct agents to attend the sale and bid for the property. This was done, and 1,458 acres was bought at the price of £51,000, and the deposit paid. But the area was insufficient for a garden city, and other land had to be obtained. Therefore the purchase of a further 230 acres (Sherrards Wood) was contracted for with Lord Desborough, and a company called Second Garden City Limited was incorporated on 15th October, 1919, with a view to securing a still further area, which belonged to the Marquis of Salisbury, forming part of the Hatfield estate. After some negotiation this company entered into a contract with Lord Salisbury for the purchase of 689 acres at a price of £40,000.

Before the company was formed, a preliminary announcement, A Satellite Town for London, was issued:

The object of the company will be to build an entirely new and self-dependent industrial town, on a site twenty-one miles from London, as an illustration of the right way to provide for the expansion of the industries and population of a great city. ..... the site has been carefully chosen so as to minimise the obstacles in the way of giving a new turn to the development of Greater London.

.... it is urgently necessary that a convincing demonstration of the garden city principle of town development shall be given in time to influence the national housing programme, which is in danger of settling definitely into the wrong lines. Unless something is done to popularise a more scientific method of handling the question, a very large proportion of the houses to be built under the national scheme will be added to the big towns - whose growth is already acknowledged to be excessive.

.... Healthy and well-equipped factories and workshops will be grouped in scientific relation to transport facilities, and will be easily accessible from the new houses of the workers.

.... A population of 40,000 to 50,000 will be provided for, efforts being made to anticipate all its social, recreative and civic needs. The aim is to create a self-contained town, with a vigorous life of its own independent of London.

In accordance with those principles, the freehold of the estate will be retained in the ownership of the company .... in trust for the future community. The preservation of the beauty of the district and the securing of architectural harmony in the new buildings, will be among the first considerations of the company. The maximum building density will be twelve houses to the acre.

Factory sites, with good roads and sidings, will be provided at moderate ground-rents. ....

The greater part of the estate is now farmed, arable crops predominating. The coming of a new large population will create a big demand for produce and much increase the value of the farms and the number of workers on the agricultural belt. Small holdings will be provided for ex-Service men, groups of co-operators and others. ....

.... All profits above the maximum dividend [7%]will be applied for the benefit of the town. And it is intended that in due time the whole estate shall be taken over by the representatives of the new community, subject to a fair provision for the rights of those who have subscribed capital to the company.

After a survey of the land, the promoters were ready and on 29th April 1920, Welwyn Garden City Limited, was formed with a capital of £250,000. (See Appendix B below for the details.)

The property consisted of 2,378 acres, costing with timber and after payment of legal expenses (but excluding other expenditure) the sum of £105,804, an average of £44 10s. per acre. The estate was twenty miles from London on the Great Northern Railway main line, which ran through the middle of the estate from north to south; at the centre of the estate there were branch lines to Hertford on the east and to Dunstable on the west. The town of Welwyn was two miles to the north-west, Hatfield three miles to the south. The estate was on high land, the greater part sloping to the valley of the Lea on the south-west and south-east, and a smaller part sloping to the Mimram (or Maran, a tributary of the Lea) on the north. It was well wooded, and included the hamlet of Handside, the greater part of the village of Hatfield Hyde, and part of Digswell Water. There were comparatively few buildings on the property.

 
 

(W) Welwyn Garden City and the surrounding towns within a twelve mile radius

(click image to enlarge)

A temporary water supply (reservoir and well-pump) was made at Handside. A temporary railway station was erected on the Dunstable branch. A public utility society called Handside Houses Ltd was formed by the company under the 1919 Act, and 50 houses built for the company's workmen and staff by Trollope & Colls, Ltd. The first house was occupied just before Christmas, 1920.

The first sites offered were in Handside Lane, Brockswood Lane and High Oaks Road, on 999-year leases. They were taken by public utility societies, individuals, and speculative builders. Two societies were formed (Labour-Saving Houses Ltd and Welwyn Homes Ltd) under the 1919 Act, for small middle-class houses. The first of these started with a scheme for 12 houses followed by another for 28. The houses are attractive and, being part of a consistent scheme, contribute to the architectural harmony of the town.

The early houses, in walking distance of the temporary station, were taken mostly by people working in London. This was accepted by the company to be within the scope of the scheme. To wait for factories to be built and then erect cottages for the workers would be to wait in vain. The town needed to show signs of life in order to attract the manufacturers.

Building costs were high and raising money was difficult. There was shortage of building labour and materials. For economy, the policy was adopted of completing houses in well-defined sections, building the roads as the houses were constructed, avoiding having lots standing vacant. In order to fulfil this policy, it was decided to create a subsidiary building company to undertake the erection of houses. This had its own workmen, staff, and joinery works. The first scheme of 26 houses designed by the town architect was satisfactory, and the organisation was enlarged for the longer term. Plans for houses from £500 to £3000 have evolved. The architectural character of the town is largely formed by this means.

As a step towards helping with the housing shortage, the Daily Mail came up with an idea for creating an Ideal Village which would have houses made by different construction methods. Land was leased in the town and in the end 43 houses were built on 6.3 acres. These houses now form part of the town and are in harmony with it since some degree of architectural control was kept.

The New Town Trust erected a co-operative housing scheme, Guessens Court, which was a 2-storied block of 40 self-contained 1-, 2- and 3-bedroomed flats, arranged in a quadrangle, with a communal dining room. The flats were leased for three or seven years. A returnable down payment/investment of £100, £200 or £300 was payable attracting 6%. A minimum spend per week in the dining room was required. A maid service was available, and there were tennis courts and other facilities.

Among the architects who have worked in the town, in addition to Louis de Soissons, the company's architect, are C. M. Crickmer, Allen Foxley, Hennell & James, H. Clapham Lander, Barry Parker, A. W. Kenyon, Williams & Cox, Bennett & Bidwell, C. J. Kay, Berkeley Wills, J. C. Tickle, and Mauger & Tanner.

(W) A house on Valley Road

Louis de Soissons, F.R.I.B.A., Architect

(click image to enlarge)

 

(W) A house on Guessens Road

Louis de Soissons, F.R.I.B.A., Architect

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(W) At the corner of Brockswood Lane and High Oaks Road

Louis de Soissons, F.R.I.B.A., Architect

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(W) Brockswood Lane

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Because of the shortage of lodging accommodation in the district for the skilled workmen required on the estate, a camp constructed from army huts was made, with sleeping quarters, club rooms, canteen, kitchen, etc. The expense of constructing and running this added to costs. From the experience of Welwyn, the provision of a large number of workers cottages should be the first development in any new venture.

(W) Handside Lane. The cottages in the background were the first to be built in 1920

Crickmer & Foxley, Architects.

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(W) The District Council's first housing scheme (1921)

Louis de Soissons, F.R.I.B.A., Architect

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The local authority was reluctant to provide workers' housing in case the venture failed, but the rural district council eventually built 50 working-class houses (Elm Gardens/Applecroft Road) for rent in 1921, followed by schemes for 92 houses (Guessens Road), 100 houses (Longcroft Lane) and 200 houses. In the book, the author gives details of the rents payable as well as some plans for the houses and road layouts for these schemes.

 
     
 

(W) The District Council's first scheme of fifty houses (1921)

(click image to enlarge)

Because of delays in the district council's housing schemes, the company formed a society Welwyn Public Utility Society to build 450 houses using loans under the Housing Acts. All have bathroom, electricity and gas, and have gardens from 1/12th to 1/10th acre. Some have central heating. Buildings are in concrete with steel casements and red tiled roofs. The cost per house was £564, including road, services and fees. Under the 1923 Act, the society is entitled to a subsidy of £6 per year for twenty years, and under the 1924 Act, a loan of £430 is obtained. Plans for the houses are shown in the book.

(W) The District Council's second housing scheme (1923) - a

Louis de Soissons, F.R.I.B.A., Architect

(click image to enlarge)

 

(W) The District Council's second housing scheme (1923) - b

Louis de Soissons, F.R.I.B.A., Architect

(click image to enlarge)

The early residents (apart from staff and workmen) were middle-class people. The population steadily increased. In October 1921 the estate became the civil parish of Welwyn Garden City in the rural district of Welwyn. In the same month, the shopping organisation started, and the electricity supply came into operation. In 1924, a parochial committee under the Public Health Act of 1875 was created, comprising all the members of Welwyn Garden City Parish Council, and the 4 members Welwyn Rural District Council which represented Welwyn Garden City. The parochial committee had responsibility for (1) management of the council houses, (2) refuse disposal, (3) planning applications, and (4) highways.

Hertfordshire County Council quickly considered schooling in Welwyn Garden City, and a site of 3 acres was selected for a school. After discussions, a plan by the company architect for a school of advanced design but comparatively low cost was accepted. The school is in 4 sections with a central assembly hall. Two sections have so far been built, the construction being from timber and concrete blocks. The school is a pleasant building, brightly coloured, with gardens planted with trees and shrubs. Assisted by the town's Educational Association, a school development fund has been established to augment staff salaries and equipment purchase, the money coming from the parents, the company, the New Town Trust, the Rowntree Trust, and others.

 
     
 

(W) Welwyn Garden City County Elementary School

(click image to enlarge)

St Francis Hall is the first church building to be constructed on the site chosen for the Church of England. Other denomination churches are planned. Church bells are not permitted according to a vote of the parish council, and the churches have agreed to adhere to this after prolonged negotiations.

Following an address by Lord Dawson of Penn a Health Council was formed from resident doctors and representatives of the workers, employers, parish council and others. The council has provided a first-aid centre, an infants' welfare centre and a district nurse. A private nursing home in the town works with the council.

(W) A house on Bridge Road

Louis de Soissons, F.R.I.B.A., Architect

(click image to enlarge)

 

(W) Handside County Council School (1923)

Louis de Soissons, F.R.I.B.A., Architect

(click image to enlarge)

 

(W) The Cherry Tree restaurant

(click image to enlarge)

The subsidiary company Welwyn Restaurants Ltd erected the Cherry Tree Restaurant opposite the temporary station to provide meals and entertainment. This became the social centre of the town replacing one of the army huts previously used. A license was refused at first but granted the following year. Set in woods, the surroundings are exceedingly pleasant. Two tennis courts, a billiards room, and bowls and putting greens are provided.

The Parkway Hall (built by Welwyn Store Ltd), the Lawrence Hall, and the Backhouse Room, provide premises for meetings, concerts and other social gatherings.

The name "Welwyn Garden City" for the town was debated and alternative suggestions were made, but at meeting of inhabitants called by the parish council, the name was confirmed by overwhelming vote.

Year
No. of new
Est. expenditure on
Population
 
buildings
new buildings (£)
 
1920
136
176,000
430
1921
262
277,000
851
1922
438
445,000
1417
1923
658
597,000
1893
1924
918
884,000
2584
 
     

 

 
     
 

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Chapter II. The Town-Plan (W)

The author thinks that the town had to provide an example of a garden city in relation to London. Although the whole area was suitable for profitable house building, the urban population limit was 40,000 rising to 50,000 if practical.

 
     
 

(W) Diagram of general town-plan, Welwyn Garden City

(click image to enlarge)

The plan was settled by the nature of the site itself. The main L.N.E.R. line ran north-south dividing the site in 2; branch lines from the east (Hertford) and from the west (Dunstable) met in the centre. The Great North Road (A1) ran down the western edge. East-west roads frame the north and south extremities; there were almost no other metalled roads.

A contour map was made, the water supply and drainage plan settled, and a mineral survey done for gravel, sand and clay. The urban area needed to be as compact as possible to be in walking distance of the shopping and industrial area.

Land was sold at cost to the railway giving space for the station, sidings and for widening in relation to the branch lines. This resulted in the railway owning a 650 feet strip through the centre of the town. There were 4 bridges over the line in the estate, 1 and 2 in the south, 3 in the centre, and 4 just north of 3. The gap between 2 and 3 was one mile but the railway would not allow another bridge between. The station site was agreed a little south of bridge 3.

The industrial area of 170 acres was to be on level ground to the east of the main line. The civic centre was to be in the curve of the Dunstable branch. The civic centre could not be built until the town had grown, so that area would be made a park until that time arrived. The commercial and business centre was to be a little south of the civic centre, with other buildings (churches, municipal building, etc) kept outside it so as to maximise its available area.

 
     
 

(W) The civic centre

(click image to enlarge)

 
     
 

(W) The commercial centre

(click image to enlarge)

The residential areas were built around the civic, commercial and industrial centres in walking distance. Larger houses were to be put further out, particularly in the north-west wooded area with road access to the A1, but in order not to segregate the classes, all areas would have houses of mixed sizes and values.

Decorative boulevards were to run north-south (from a suitable crossing point over the Dunstable railway to an existing exit road in the south), and west-east to the station. These were Parkway and Howardsgate.

(W) Brockswood Lane - a

Houses by Hennell & James and Williams & Cox, Architects

(click image to enlarge)

 

(W) Brockswood Lane - b

Houses by Hennell & James and Williams & Cox, Architects

(click image to enlarge)

 

(W) High Oaks Road

(click image to enlarge)

 

(W) Handside Lane

(click image to enlarge)

Roads for quick exit from the town were needed, especially from the industrial area without passing through residential areas. Three roads in the south give access to the A1, one through Stanborough from the southern end of Parkway, one to the east of that through Hatfield Hyde, and one to the west (Valley Road). The town must not be allowed to become a route for through traffic avoiding the A1. The roads to the A1 from the north of the town were winding and not suitable for through traffic.

 
     
 

(W) Through roads, railways, and areas of utility

(click image to enlarge)

 
     
 

(W) South-West area: original natural features, roads, rights of way, and contours

(click image to enlarge)

 
     
 

(W) South-West area: section of the town-plan

(click image to enlarge)

 
     
 

(W) South-West area: development carried out to 1924

(click image to enlarge)

 
     
 

(W) Types of culs-de-sac

(click image to enlarge)

 
     
 

(W) Formal grouping of residential development

(click image to enlarge)

The author describes various layouts for "closes" or culs-de-sac used in the town and gives sample plans of several of these.

(W) Handside Close

Louis de Soissons, F.R.I.B.A., Architect

(click image to enlarge)

 

(W) Looking on to Handside Green

(click image to enlarge)

 

(W) Homer Field, a close off Russellcroft Road

Louis de Soissons & Arthur W. Kenyon, Architects

(click image to enlarge)

 

(W) Meadow Green, Handside Lane

H. Clapham Lander, F.R.I.B.A., Architect

(click image to enlarge)

The advertising effect of the main line railway passing through is important, and a good appearance was needed rather than the usual untidiness and dirt displayed to rail travellers. Rows of lime trees were planted on either side of the line, and larger commercial and industrial buildings should show a good face to the railway.

 
     
 

(W) Diagram showing the relation of Welwyn Garden City to London,
with main railway and highway connections

(click image to enlarge)

Park areas would be outside the main housing area. The boulevards give a park-like area in the centre. Planting of trees and flowering shrubs everywhere was an important feature of the town. Level land on the periphery was reserved for sports grounds. A temporary area near the centre not yet required for building is used for sports presently. Small areas are being reserved near working-class houses for children's playgrounds. Play on greens will be permitted and school playgrounds made available outside hours.

Control of the plan is in the hands of the company architect, with each section being discussed at conferences with engineer and surveyor.

Plans and elevations of all buildings have to be submitted to the architect for approval, and building is subject to the building regulations of the company. A definite attempt is made to control the architectural appearance of the town, and while this is not always easy, it is greatly facilitated by the company undertaking a large part of the building by means of its own subsidiary organisation. High Oaks Road is an example of a road on which plots were taken by individuals, each house being designed separately to suit the requirements of the owner, and the result soon convinced the company and its architect (though he had designed a number of the houses himself) that a satisfactory architectural effect could not be obtained by that means. Therefore every endeavour is now made to carry out building in accordance with consistent schemes. Demands for individual building sites are met as fully as possible, but important sites are invariably subject to the architect's direct control.

 
 

(W) Picturesque treatment of residential development

(click image to enlarge)

Excluding workmen's housing schemes, to date 41% of houses were built by the company's builder, 10% as single houses by individuals, the remainder by other builders or societies. Development has been kept as concentrated as possible in the south-west sector having the closest access to the temporary station. This area will be largely completed before other areas are developed, giving a good appearance to the town and being economical for road and services laying costs. There is demand for sites elsewhere, especially in the north-west sector, but this has been resisted.

(W) High Oaks Road

(click image to enlarge)

 

(W) Brockswood Lane

Louis de Soissons, F.R.I.B.A., Architect

(click image to enlarge)

 

(W) Handside Lane

Louis de Soissons, F.R.I.B.A., Architect

(click image to enlarge)

 

(W) Entrance to a close, Valley Road

Louis de Soissons, F.R.I.B.A., Architect

(click image to enlarge)

The author includes a list of tree species planted in the town to date (not reproduced here). Road names are chosen from local names of fields, buildings or persons.

 
     

 

 
     
 

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Chapter III. The Shops (W)

The author tells us that the shopping area is to be on both sides of the boulevard which approaches the station (Howardsgate), with a frontage on the east side of Parkway, a total area of 20 acres. There will be shops, warehouses, offices, garages, post office, police station, etc in that area. Traffic in that area will be to access the shops and the station only. Small subsidiary shopping centres in other parts of the town will be formed but most of the shops will be concentrated at the centre.

Shops will be let only as part of a consistent scheme and will not be let indiscriminately. There will be no shops with domestic quarters built over. Upper floors will be for showrooms, warehouse accommodation or offices, although some residential flats may be allowed. A temporary central stores currently occupies a site on Bridge Road, outside the shopping area.

Instead of letting separate sites for shops to traders, the Garden City Company has handed over to an organisation formed for the purpose, known as Welwyn Stores Limited, the duty of providing the shopping facilities for the town. Welwyn Stores Limited was formed in May 1921, just a year after the town was started, and began business in the following October. It is a society registered under the Industrial and Provident Societies Act, which is an Act passed with a view to giving groups of people (mainly working people) the benefits of incorporation and limited liability, and no one may hold more than £200 in share capital in such a society The Garden City Company has given Welwyn Stores Limited the right to all shopping sites on the estate for a period of ten years, and in consideration of that right retains a controlling interest in the society; so that if the society should not be able to provide the shopping facilities required, or if the scheme should prove unsatisfactory in any other respect, the company may be in a position to remedy it. The period of ten years was fixed to allow the scheme a fair trial and to give an opportunity for a review of the whole position at a definite date; if at the end of it the arrangement has worked well, the intention is to extend it; if, on the other hand, the experiment is not fully successful, it will be possible to modify it in the future.

Welwyn Stores Limited has raised its own capital of £28,000 at fixed interest, with the balance of profits going to the Garden City Company for the benefit of the town. The aim is to provide maximum efficiency in the distribution of goods to the town, while securing for the community the benefit of the increase in land value.

(W) A section of The Stores (1924)

(click image to enlarge)

 

(W) A section of The Stores (1924)

(click image to enlarge)

 

(W) A section of The Stores (1924)

(click image to enlarge)

 

(W) The Dairy (1924)

(click image to enlarge)

The position of the shopping centre makes it convenient for the town's population, but may also attract shoppers from a wide outside area. Small traders would be expected to be interested at first, larger firms waiting until the population had increased sufficiently to give a good return on their investment.

In the case of Letchworth, 99-year leases were granted to over 80 shops (1905-1914) at fixed rents which were low to start with in order to attract takers. Rents of new leases were increased gradually. Those taking leases at the beginning saw their value increase greatly and were rewarded for their enterprise, but this represented a considerable loss in value to the Garden City Company.

In most of the remainder of this chapter (about 10 pages), the author continues to elaborate on the economic advantages of the new method used at Welwyn Garden City compared to the normal methods which were used at Letchworth.

 
     

 

 
     
 

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Chapter IV. Industries (W)

The author informs us that the following companies are now established:

Welwyn Transport, Limited, gravel washing and crushing.
Archibald D. Dawnay and Sons, Limited, constructional engineers.
The Shredded Wheat Company, Limited.
New Town Trust, Limited, laundry.
Welwyn Builders, Limited, joinery works.
Mastic Roofing and Paving. Company, roofing and paving materials.

A site of ten acres has also been taken by Messrs. R. S. Murray and Co., Ltd., confectioners.

 
     
 

(W) Factory area

(click image to enlarge)

The factory area is 170 acres which would allow 34 sites of 5 acres. Where land is cheap, manufacturers may acquire more land than they need in case required for future expansion. This could cause problems because of the limited overall area, and also unused land could be left uncared for. So far demand is for smaller sites, many under one acre. More industrial land could be added to the total area.

The author lists the following advantages for industry at Welwyn Garden City:

1. A planned industrial site, with road, railway and other facilities.
2. Electric power and water at reasonable charges.
3. Low rates.
4. Space for extension of factory.
5. Clear atmosphere.
6. Houses for workpeople within walking distance of the factory.
7. Social amenities and entertainment for workpeople.
8. Good shopping facilities.

The following two pages from Punch in 1920 appear in the book. I assume they were placed as advertisements:

(W) "Yesterday, To-day, To-morrow"

(click image to enlarge)

 

(W) "Welwyn Garden City: the New Town for Residence and Industry"

(click image to enlarge)

The Shredded Wheat factory under construction (1924) promises to provide an interesting feature of the industrial activities of the town. It is a large building of white cement and tile, furnished with every modern equipment to ensure cleanliness and sanitation, and with dining, rest, and recreation rooms for employees. It is planned to use British labour and British wheat. Farmers will be encouraged to grow a good quality of white winter wheat; they will be assisted in getting proper seed, and their crops purchased for cash. The process of manufacture of what is now one of the staple foods of the world is very interesting. The wheat is subjected to nine processes of cleaning, after which it is steam-cooked, shredded, formed into cakes and baked. After baking, it is put through an evaporator, where all moisture is removed, thus ensuring its keeping qualities for an indefinite period. It is then packed in small cartons, which are sealed with automatic machinery.

The author asked the managing director of Shredded Wheat, J. W. Bryce, why Welwyn Garden City was chosen out of the many sites considered for their British factory. His reply, given in detail in the book, lists the advantages of cleanliness, ideal workers' housing close by, suitable railway sidings, and good access to London. He goes on to say:

As managing director, I was so impressed with Welwyn Garden City that my wife and I were satisfied that it would be an ideal place to live in. Therefore we are now confirmed residents of it.

Having some knowledge of the prospective plans for the development of the town, I am of the belief that within a few years it will have progressed to such an extent that the improvements necessary to make it not only a clean, wholesome place, but a beautiful place, will have been fully developed.....

 
     

 

 
     
 

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Chapter V. Public Services (W)

The author relates that the only significant metalled road was Handside Lane, about 10 feet wide maintained by the county council, which ran from Handside Village southwards to the Great North Road which it joined at an acute angle and sharp gradient. At the northern end it formed a junction with another road running east-west (now called Brockswood Lane and Bridge Road), which was not maintained, only partly metalled, and about seven feet wide. Handside Lane was strengthened and widened to mostly eighteen feet plus footpath, costs being shared between company and county council. The east-west road was also made up after slight diversions.

The first new roads to be constructed were High Oaks Road, followed by Valley Road. The new roads were constructed with a base of flint and gravel of which there were large deposits on the estate. Most roads were made 18 or 21 feet wide between 50 or 60 feet boundaries. Lesser ones were 15 or 18 feet wide between 40 or 50 feet boundaries. Culs-de-sac were 8 or 10 feet wide. Parkway had two 18 feet carriageways with a 130 feet central park between 200 feet boundaries. For maintenance, roads are classed as county, district or private, the costs falling to the county council, district council or company accordingly. To date nearly six miles of road have been constructed. Most roads have grass verges and are planted with trees.

The Lea Conservancy Act prohibited effluent discharge, so the company had to deal with sewage within the estate, the rivers Mimram to the north and Lea to the south not being available. A separate system of drainage was adopted with separate drains for foul water and surface drainage, the latter being discharged into the rivers. For foul water, two temporary sewage treatment works were used before the new works in the north east were ready (1923). The new system uses revolving sprinklers with the treated effluent going to gravel lands below the works. The system is supplied by a gravity main sewer constructed from the south-west to north-east running under the town centre and two railways. 13 miles of drains have been laid so far.

 
     
 

(W) Main drainage scheme

The hatched portion shows the gravitation area.
Outside this area to the south the sewage will
be raised to the main concentrating sewer.

(click image to enlarge)

A deep bore-hole pumping station next to the Mimram supplies water at 16,000 gallons per hour along a 2,000 yard 15-inch main to two concrete covered reservoirs constructed at the highest point in Sherrards Wood. From there another 15-inch main carries the water to the town centre from whence it is distributed via lesser mains. About 10 miles of water main have been laid. Consumption is now over 20 million gallons per year.

 
     
 

(W) Water supply

With the exception of the small shaded area
to the north the whole town is served
by gravitation from the reservoir.

(click image to enlarge)

The nearest gas supply available was from a company at Welwyn, but the first area of development of the town came under the area of another company at Hatfield. The two companies have now combined, and the supply comes from Welwyn. A site for a gas holder has been taken in the industrial area.

The electricity supply comes from the North Metropolitan Electric Power Company's station at Hertford at 10,000 volts. It is transformed to 3,000 volts for distribution to sub-stations from where it is available at 240 volts for domestic customers, or 415 volts three-phase for industrial. Local distribution was originally done but the supplier, but now a subsidiary company Welwyn Garden City Electricity Supply Company has taken over that function. The supply is now interconnected with stations at Brimsdown and Willesden as well as Hertford. Virtually all houses in the town are connected.

A site of 69 acres has been allocated for a new railway station which will replace the temporary halt. The service is not currently satisfactory for the passenger numbers which have risen to 9,000 per week. A light railway within the town connects the railway sidings with the joinery and gravel and sand pits, and to areas being developed. The track is easily lifted and re-laid, and has been of immense value in protecting the roads from heavy construction traffic.

The first works of development were undertaken by contract, but at an early stage the company considered the advisability of doing the work itself to reduce its cost and to enable modifications to be effected as work was being carried out A subsidiary company was therefore formed for the purpose, and all the constructional works of the company, including roads, bridges, laying of sewers and water mains, etc., are carried out by this company on detailed estimates agreed with the company’s engineers. The exceptions to this are the execution of specialist works such as the sinking of boreholes......

This makes it possible to vary the order in which the programme is carried out flexibly, which would not be possible in the ordinary circumstance of putting the work out to competitive tender. It also provides continuity of employment for the workmen engaged.

The company considered the possibility of establishing an internal telephone system for the town, as part of its normal public services; but nothing could be done owing to the rights of the Postmaster-General, who has a monopoly of the public telephone service. The ideal that was aimed at was to connect all houses to the telephone service as they were built in the same way as to water, gas, electricity and other services. This was, however, not found practicable, but the number of post-office telephones installed is considerably above the average, being one per twenty-three of the population.

 
     

 

 
     
 

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Chapter VI. Agriculture (W)

The author tells us that there were five farm tenancies on the estate at the beginning, mostly arable and well cultivated. Fortunately, the tenant in the south-west area, W. J. Horn, was particularly sympathetic to the garden city idea. The plan allowed for 608 acres for the agricultural belt which was not enough, and it was hoped more would be available at a later date. Meanwhile, most of the building land was still under cultivation.

The New Town Trust was a group of Quakers whose aim was to create somewhere a small town or village based on agricultural pursuits, run as a social experiment and not for profit. Some of the group had an association with Letchworth. In 1921, the company agreed to lease to the group 500 acres (rising now to 1650 acres) of land. The New Town Agricultural Guild was formed with a view to supplying the town with produce, starting with the milk supply. A shorthorn herd was started, and "certified" to produce the highest standard of milk. Welwyn Stores delivered the milk, but due to its high cost, not enough could be sold to make the scheme work despite concerted efforts with marketing it. The guild embarked on production of ordinary milk as well which was delivered "loose" in the customer's own containers.

The certified milk is produced at Lower Handside Farm where the cattle are kept scrupulously clean. Electric milking machines are used, and the milk immediately cooled and bottled on site. Certified milk is tested for bacteria at random without notice by the Ministry of Health, and all cows are tuberculin tested. The other two farms produce "Grade A" milk not certified.

Pigs provide pork and home-cured bacon. The poultry farm has 2,000 laying White Leghorns, and also Light Sussex and Rhode Island Reds for table birds. Modern hatching and brooding equipment is used. Thirty acres have been planted with fruit trees and bushes. Glasshouses supply tomatoes, cucumbers and chrysanthemums.

Currently the guild has 244 cattle, 500 pigs, 47 horses, 3 tractors. The number employed is 72 compared with 29 when the estate was purchased.

The close touch between the producer and his organised market which is possible at Welwyn Garden City may show a far-reaching effect in helping to stabilise the agricultural industry.

 
     

 

 
     
 

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Chapter VII. Finance (W)

The author informs us that Welwyn Garden City Limited was a joint stock company with authorised share capital of £250,000 in £1 shares at 7% maximum (but not exceeding 2% above Government securities). The surplus profits were to be used for the benefit of the town.

On the board were to be three "civic" directors (in addition to the others) to be appointed by the council having jurisdiction over the town from its members. They would have to be resident in the estate, and were appointed for one year and eligible for reappointment. The idea was to bring the town in contact with the company from the start.

(W) Agricultural belt, Welwyn Viaduct

(click image to enlarge)

The prospectus offering the shares was issued on 4th May, 1920. Only £90,350 was raised initially (£116,445 to date), partly due to the interest rate offered being low for that period, but mostly because it coincided with the post-war financial downturn. The directors borrowed from the banks on their personal guarantees so the purchases could be completed and development started. There was some check in progress because money was short. These initial loans were put on a proper basis by creating £150,000 of debentures at 6%.

(W) Monks' Walk in Digswell Park

(click image to enlarge)

This difficulty with finance was recognised in a report of March 1920 by the Ministry of Health into slums which stated :

the investment of a considerable amount of capital must be contemplated in .... the general development of estates, the return upon which must be delayed for a considerable period

A further report in June 1921 recommended:

That the development of self-contained garden cities either round an existing nucleus or on new sites should be encouraged and hastened by State assistance in the early stages, such assistance to take the form of a loan secured as a first charge upon the land developed as a garden city.

Under section 7 of the Housing Act 1921, provision was made for an "authorised association" to receive

such money as the association may require for the purpose of developing a garden city in accordance with a scheme approved by the Minister ....

The terms of the advance included a restriction that the amount of the loan should not exceed the sum raised by the association in its share issue.

The Welwyn Garden City Company was approved as an authorised association under the Act and made an application (which cannot be made until the money has already been spent). There was a long delay between application and receipt of the money. The first advance of £117,000 (lower than expected) at 5½% was made in April 1922.

Several tables showing the financial position of the company in the years 1921 to 1924 are reproduced in the book. These are:

••• The capital raised by the Company from year to year
••• Expenditure of the Company on land and development
••• Expenditure on water and electricity supplies
••• Receipts from rents and other sources
••• Yearly balances on the revenue account

The directors have not felt that the cash position has justified the payment of a dividend on ordinary shares to date. The directors' report of 19th June 1924 states:

The nature of the company's business, which is the creation of a town on a virgin site, involves the expenditure of capital in development costs, sewerage system, waterworks and other services, throughout a considerable period. By reason of this expenditure, the estate which was purchased by the company at agricultural value is urbanised and acquires urban value; but the full realisation of the revenue arising from this change of value is necessarily postponed.

The remainder of this chapter, about 8 pages, is mostly about costs and other financial details which I am skipping over. The only interesting detail I noted was that the company subsidiary Welwyn Brickworks Limited, using clay from a deposit on the edge of Sherrards Wood (I think this must the clay pits off Coneydale very near to where I lived as a boy), was producing about 800,000 bricks a year used as red facing bricks in the town.

 
     

 

 
     
 

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Chapter VIII. Conclusion (W)

The author says:

.... It is now evident that the site is a good one for a town, and that the place shows what can be done on the satellite town principle to meet the demand for industrial and residential sites in the London neighbourhood ....

.... A large amount of capital will be needed for some years to come, and while nothing could now actually stop its growth, the rapid completion of a substantial part of the town up to a point where revenue can meet all charges for interest on borrowed money and enable the dividend to be paid on the ordinary shares is necessary to secure a fully satisfactory result ....

.... It will be necessary to prepare a workable system for garden city development and finance before other garden city schemes can be attempted, which is the subject to be considered in the concluding part of this book ....

.... There is a current of idealism throughout the scheme, without which it would not exist at all; but practical common-sense dominates its administration ....

 
     

 

 
     
 

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Part IV - The Practical Problems of Satellite Town-Building

Chapter I. Their Planning and Organisation

The author argues that, although the Letchworth and Welwyn sites were well chose, there needs to be a regional plan to site such cities in the future. Although the joint town-planning committees being formed throughout the country may be suitable bodies to prepare such regional plans, there needs to be a national authority.

The author discusses the powers arising from the 1890 and 1919 Housing Acts and quotes passages from both. He explores the ways by which local authorities might use the powers of these Acts to build garden cities. Both garden cities created so far were created by private organisations, not local authorities.

The 1921 Act provides loans for an "authorised association"; section 7 of the same act provides compulsory purchase powers which were not used for either town. The financial risk was carried on the shoulders of private individuals.

The garden cities of the future should not be carried out as mere private ventures, for they need larger financial resources than can be provided by private persons, and should be brought into conformity with some kind of national plan.

Presently, approval for a scheme comes under the Minister of Health, while the finance is considered by the Public Works Loan Board. The author proposes that a Garden Cities Commission

be formed by Act of Parliament charged with the duty of reporting upon garden city schemes, assisting in their preparation, supervising their construction, and helping in their finance.

He gives details of his proposals under the headings: Constitution and Objects, Consultative Council, Approval of Schemes, Finance of Schemes, Expenses of the Commissioners, and Acquisition of Land. Only schemes under the proposed act should be allowed to call themselves "garden cities". He stresses the importance of building workmen's cottages at the beginnings of a development.

 
     

 

 
     
 

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(Part IV) Chapter II. Their Finance

It is because of the difficulty in the payment of dividends, with the consequential retarding effect upon the raising of capital, in the early of a scheme that the committee on unhealthy areas over which Mr. Neville Chamberlain presided recommended in connection with their suggestion for the establishment of garden cities that financial assistance be given to such schemes in the first stages.

The author elaborates on this idea in the remainder of this chapter (some 16 pages).

 
     

 

 
     
 

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(Part IV) Chapter III. The System of Agricultural Belts

The author says that the agricultural belt around a garden city is to be retained as an integral part of the town community. Historically there has always been a healthy interaction between rural, urban and commercial life. It was only with nineteenth century industrialisation that a great mass of people in cities lived with no connection to agriculture. The author discusses the agricultural belts at Letchworth and Welwyn Garden City.

 
     

 

 
     
 

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(Part IV) Chapter IV. Some Local Government Questions

The author discusses local government organisation, which of the authorities should develop satellite towns, and how the towns should be represented on the authorities.

 
     

 

 
     
 

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(Part IV) Chapter V. Transport and Industry in Connection with Satellite Towns

The author discusses congestion in cities and how to get people to travel less.

 
     

 

 
     
 

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(Part IV) Chapter VI. Conclusion

The author summarises his arguments to promote the building of satellite towns made throughout the book. He includes the diagram below from his 1920 article in Garden Cities and Town-Planning.

 
     
 

Satellite towns round London

(click image to enlarge)

 
     

 

 
     
 

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Appendix (A) - First Garden City Limited

Date of registration, September 1, 1903.

The members of the board of directors of the company (with the years when they were appointed) are:

Henry B. Harris (1903) (Chairman)
A. A. Allen (1920)
Col. F. S. Bowring, C.B. (1904)
R. T. Edge, M.C. (1923)
Ebenezer Howard (1903)
C. E. Parker (1920)
William Piercy, C.B.E. (1924)
Lt-Col. Franklin Thomasson (1903)

The following have also acted as directors: the late Mr. Justice Neville (chairman from 1903, resigned in 1906 upon his appointment as a Judge of the High Court); Lord Leverhulme (1903-1904); T. H. W. Idris (1903-1922); the late Earl Brassey (1903-1905); T. P. Ritzema (1903-1905); Edward Cadbury (1903-1919); R. A. Yerburgh (1905); R. R. Cory (1906-1908); E. T. Sturdy (1907-1917); L. R. King (1909-1922); the late Ralph Neville (1912-1923); Bolton Smart (1917-1921); John E. Champney (1907-1919, chairman from 1915 to 1919); the late H. D. Pearsall (1903-1919); the late Aneurin Williams (1903- 1924, chairman from 1906 to 1915).

The organisation of the company was as follows: Meetings of the board were held fortnightly. Three committees dealt with the business: finance, building, engineering; the first committee met fortnightly, the others monthly. A consultative council of shareholders existed from 1910 until 1916, consisting of thirty shareholders elected at the annual meetings of the company, half of them being residents of Letchworth, The executive work was under the control of a managing agent, the departments being: surveying, engineering, secretarial, accountancy, and works. In 1917 the organisation was reduced and the secretary became the chief executive officer.

Thomas Adams was secretary from 1903 to 1906, since that date Harold Craske has been secretary. The managing agent from 1906 was W. H. Gaunt, who left in 1917. A. W. E. Bullmore, M.Inst.C.E., has been engineer to the company from 1904. H. Burr, F.S.I., was surveyor from 1904 to 1919; the present surveyor is O. S. Pratt, D.S.O. Charles Gould has been electrical engineer from 1908. The solicitors to the company are Balderston, Warren and Co. The auditors are Peat, Marwick, Mitchell and Co. The company has a controlling interest in Letchworth Cottages and Buildings Limited.

 
     

 

 
     
 

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Appendix (B) - Welwyn Garden City Limited

Date of registration, April 29, 1920.

The members of the board of directors of the company (with the years when they were appointed) are:

Sir Theodore G. Chambers, K.B.E. (1920) (Chairman)
Basil Backhouse (1924)
Sir A. Kaye Butterworth (1923)
W. H. Close, M.C. (1922)
Herbert Collins (1924)
J. R. Farquharson (1920)
Lt.-Col. F. E. Fremantle, M.P. (1920)
Sir John Henry (1923)
Ebenezer Howard (1920)
C. B. Purdom (1920)
R. L. Reiss (1920)

The following have also acted as directors: Samuel Smethurst (1920); Sir John Mann, K.B.E. (1920-1923); Bolton Smart (1920-1923); Lord Lytton (1920-1923); the late Edward Backhouse (1921-1923); Sybil, Viscountess Rhondda (1920); Major the Hon. J. J. Astor, M.P. (1921-1925);

The civic directors appointed by the Welwyn Garden City Parish Council are: Mrs. A. M. Drover; L. T. M. Gray; H. E. Stevens.

Meetings of the board are held monthly. There is a general purposes committee consisting of six directors, which meets three times a month. The administration of the business is undertaken by the chairman (Sir Theodore G. Chambers) and the finance director (C. B. Purdom), who give their whole time to the work, in conjunction with the heads of departments. The departments and their heads are as follows: secretarial (F. J. Osborn); accountancy (C. W. Care); architectural (Louis de Soissons, F.R.I.B.A., S.A.D.G.); surveying (C. W. Brighten, F.S.I.); and engineering (W. E. James, A.M.Inst.C.E.). All the heads of departments have held their appointments since the establishment of the company with the exception of the present surveyor, who succeeded the late G. S. Herne in 1924. Mr. J. D. Haworth, M.S.E., has been the company's consulting engineer from the inception of the scheme, and has remained closely associated with it.

The solicitors to the company are Royds, Rawstorne and Co. and Grundy, Kershaw, Samson and Co. The auditors are Peat, Marwick, Mitchell and Co.

The following is a list of the subsidiary companies, etc. Each has its separate board of directors and management, but is under the same general administration:

Digswell Nurseries, Ltd.
Garden City Houses, Ltd.
Handside Houses, Ltd.
Sherrards Wood Properties, Ltd.
Welwyn Garden City Electricity Supply Company, Ltd.
Welwyn Brickworks, Ltd.
Welwyn Builders, Ltd.
Welwyn Public Utility Society, Ltd.
Welwyn Transport, Ltd.

The company has also a controlling interest in:

Welwyn Restaurants, Ltd.
Welwyn Stores, Ltd.

 
     

 

 
     
 

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Appendix (C) - The Health of School Children of Letchworth

The Medical Officer of Health for Hertfordshire made an enquiry in 1920 into the physical condition of school children in Letchworth and Hitchin. The 2 towns had roughly similar populations (about 10,000). Hitchin is an old town with an engineering factory and tan-yard, etc. 485 children were examined for the following: clothing and footwear and physique; cleanliness; teeth; tonsils and adenoids; vision, hearing and speech; mental condition/attainments; heart; lungs and tuberculosis; rickets; chest measurement. Some detail is given in this appendix of the findings of the enquiry, and there is the following conclusion:

The conclusions to be drawn from the enquiry are that the general health, cleanliness and mentality of the Letchworth children were on a higher level than those of the Hitchin children. The beneficial effect of physical training was indicated by the appearance and carriage of the boy scouts, who were almost without exception well developed, of good colour, had an alert carriage and an excellent chest development and expansion ....

 
     

 

 
     
 

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List of illustrations in the text

* = reproduced above

Plan showing the successive additions to Los Angeles to June 1919
Doncaster Regional Planning Scheme: Suggested Lines of Future Growth
Diagram reproduced from the "Proceedings of the First Regional Planning Conference of Los Angeles County"
Regional Survey of New York: population diagram
Area of the Ruhr Regional Planning Federation
Diagram of the "Three Magnets"
Ebenezer Howard's diagram of garden city
Ebenezer Howard's diagram of a section of garden city
Howard's diagram showing satellite garden cities
Plan of Mariemont, near Cincinnati
Plan of the Becontree Estate
Stjordalshalsen, a satellite of Trondhjem (Norway)
Civic centre in Stjordalshalsen
Mo i Rana, a new town in the middle of Northern Norway
Hellerau, near Dresden
Example of two old cities linked together by a lineal city
Plan of the lineal city of Madrid
Prof. Adolf Rading's ideal plan (1924) for a large city of the future
Herr Paul Wolf's scheme of industrial satellite towns (1922)
Diagram suggesting a method of zoning a town, and dividing it into distinct wards, defined by open spaces
Diagram illustrating Mr Robert Whitten's theory of satellite towns (1923)
American diagram of a scientifically designed city
*Letchworth Garden City estate and the surrounding country in 1903
Lay-out of part of the Letchworth Urban District Council's housing scheme under the Housing Act, 1919
Letchworth Urban District Council's housing scheme under the Housing Act, 1919
*Lay-out under the Housing Act, 1919
St Christopher School
*Parker and Unwin's original plan of Letchworth Garden City
*The Letchworth Town-Plan, showing development up to January 1925
Proposed lay-out of an area between Baldock Road, Willian Way, and Willian
*Letchworth: the shopping area
*Letchworth: the factory area
First Garden City Ltd. tenement factory, Letchworth
Letchworth: some typical road-sections
Diagram showing Letchworth roads and the bodies responsible for their maintenance
*Plan of Letchworth showing the agricultural belt owned by the Garden City Company
*Welwyn Garden City and the surrounding towns within a twelve mile radius
Guessens Court - type of flats
*The District Council's first scheme of fifty houses (1921)
The District Council's second scheme of ninety-three houses (1923)
Lay-out of the District Council's first housing scheme (1921)
Lay-out of the District Council's second housing scheme (1923)
Lay-out of the District Council's third housing scheme (1924)
Plans of a block of eight houses in the District Council's fourth housing scheme (1925)
Welwyn Public Utility Society's scheme for 450 houses (1925)
*Welwyn Garden City County Elementary School
Diagram showing the location of public elementary schools with half-mile radii of efficiency, Welwyn Garden City
Proposed sites for secondary schools with three-quarter-mile radii of efficiency, Welwyn Garden City
*Diagram of general town-plan, Welwyn Garden City
*Through roads, railways, and areas of utility
Diagram of geological formation
*South-West area: original natural features, roads, rights of way, and contours
*South-West area: section of the town-plan
*South-West area: development carried out to 1924
*Types of culs-de-sac
*Diagram showing the relation of Welwyn Garden City to London, with main railway and highway connections
Location of parks, playing-fields, and playgrounds, Welwyn Garden City
Welwyn Garden City: town area in quarter-mile zones, showing distances to open country
*Formal grouping of residential development
*Picturesque treatment of residential development
*Welwyn Garden City: factory area
*"Yesterday, To-day, To-morrow"
*"Welwyn Garden City: the New Town for Residence and Industry"
Welwyn Garden City: some typical road-sections
*Welwyn Garden City: main drainage scheme
*Welwyn Garden City: water supply
Welwyn Garden City: pumping station
Diagram showing areas of agricultural belts
The decentralisation of the textile industry of Berlin
*Satellite towns round London

 
     

 

 
     
 

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List of Plates

* = reproduced above

Welwyn Garden City: Howardsgate (frontis)
Satellite town development in neighbourhood of Copenhagen
Mr James Thompson's map of Dundee
German scheme for triple garden cities
Mo i Rana: shopping centre and hotel
Stjordalshalsen: square in front of railway station
Proposed small town around Trondhjem
Mariemont: lay-out of group of houses
Hilversum: the elementary school
Hilversum: cottages in quadrangle
Plan for region around Paris
Map showing position of Hellerau in relation to Dresden
Factory in Hellerau
Dalcroze School, Hellerau
School Square, Hellerau
House in Hellerau
Sketch of Kiel, showing the green belt
Ebenezer Howard

Letchworth

*South View
*South Place
*Pre-war workmen's houses (1908) in Common View
Pre-war workmen's houses (1908) in Common View
*Workmen's houses built by a public Utility Society (1913)
*Workmen's houses built by a public Utility Society (1913)
*Workmen's houses built by a public Utility Society (1906)
*Lytton Avenue, Workmen's houses built by a public Utility Society (1907)
The District Council's housing schemes (1919-1920)
*The District Council's housing schemes (1919-1921)
The District Council's housing schemes (1919-1920)
*The District Council's housing schemes (1919-1921)
*Pixmore Way
Pixmore Way
*Norton Way
*Meadow Way
St Christopher School, theatre vestibule
St Christopher School, inner games court
St Christopher School, entrance court
*Letchworth Free Church (1924)
*Wesleyan Methodist Church (1914)
*St Michael's Church (1907)
*Sollershott East (1910)
*Homesgarth (1910)
*A house on Wilbury Road
*A house on Garth Road
*A bedroom in the architect's house
*A house in Letchworth Lane
*The Friends Meeting House
Entrance to Primitive Methodist Church
*The Broadway
*The Broadway
*A view on Broadway
*Rushby Mead: workmen's houses
*The Museum on the Town square
*A house in Norton Road
*The Shopping Centre (1923), Leys Avenue
*The Arcade (1923)
*A group of shops erected in 1909
*Station Place (1923)
*The Spirella Factory
*The front of the Spirella factory
The embroidery works of Herz and Falk
An engineering works on Works Road
*Part of machine-room, Garden City Press
*Factory producing office appliances
*Scientific instruments works
*Norton Village
*On the agricultural belt
A successful small-holding
*Small-holder's cottage

Welwyn Garden City

*A house on Valley Road
*A house on Guessens Road
*Corner of Brockswood Lane and High Oaks Road
*Brockswood Lane
*Handside Lane
*The District Council's first housing scheme (1921)
*The District Council's second housing scheme (1923)
*The District Council's second housing scheme (1923)
*A house on Bridge Road
A sketch for St Francis Church
*Handside County Council School
*The Cherry Tree restaurant
*The civic centre
*The commercial centre
*Brockswood Lane
*Brockswood Lane
*High Oaks Road
*Handside Lane
*Handside Close
*Looking on to Handside Green
*Homer Field
*Meadow Green
*High Oaks Road
*Brockswood Lane
*Handside Lane
*Entrance to a close, Valley Road
*A section of The Stores
*A section of The Stores
*A section of The Stores
*The Dairy
The Shredded Wheat factory
Archibald D. Dawnay & Sons Ltd, engineering works
The Shredded Wheat factory
Agricultural Guild, interior of poultry house
Agricultural Guild, pedigree pigs
On the agricultural belt
Agricultural Guild, one of the cowsheds
*Agricultural belt, Welwyn Viaduct
The Mimram
*Monks' Walk in Digswell Park