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Welwyn Garden City

Sir Ebenezer Howard and the Town Planning Movement

Author: Dugald MacFadyen

Published: 1933 by Manchester University Press *

Format: Hardback 8¾" by 5¾" with 199 pages

*This book was first published in 1933 by Manchester University Press. My own copy is a reprint edition published in 1970 by Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The Reverend Dugald Macfadyen M.A., F.R.Hist.S. (1867-1936) was at one time Minister of South Grove Congregational Church, Highgate. His other publications include: Alfred, the West Saxon King of the English (1901), Constructive Congregational Ideals (1902), The Life and Letters of Alexander Mackennal (1905), Truth in Religion: Studies in the Nature of Christian Certainty (1911), Men of the Spirit (1915). The address given by Dugald Macfadyen in the Foreword is Bramble Bank, Alington Lane, Letchworth.

Portrait of Ebenezer Howard by Spencer Pryse


(click image to enlarge)

The book is illustrated by black-and-white photographs and maps and plans. In my copy some of the photographs are poorly reproduced, but the maps and plans are all quite good.

In my notes below, Dugald Macfadyen's own words are in green italic. Ebenezer Howard's words, as quoted by Macfadyen, are in red italic. My own asides are in [square brackets].

Foreword   (click here)
Chapter I Beginnings (click here)
Chapter II Inheritance (click here)
Chapter III Self Discovery
       Marriage and Home Life
       Life at the Office
(click here)
Chapter IV Genesis of Garden Cities of To-morrow
       Garden City Association
(click here)
Chapter V The Book Garden Cities of To-morrow and its Influence (click here)
Chapter VI Rapture of the Forward View
       Rapid Progress
(click here)
Chapter VII Recruits: Sir Ralph Neville (click here)
Chapter VIII The Idealist at Work (click here)
Chapter IX The Land Question at Letchworth - I (click here)
Chapter X The Land Question at Letchworth - II (click here)
Chapter XI Letchworth - At Intervals of Ten Years
       Ten Years Later. War Time.
       Ten Years Later
(click here)
Chapter XII The Spirit of the Place
       Reply to a Critic
(click here)
Chapter XIII Where Garden Cities Score (click here)
Chapter XIV Words and Facts: Garden Cities of To-day (click here)
Chapter XV Welwyn Garden City
       Statutory Recognition and State Assistance
       Historique de Welwyn
       Wythenshawe. By Lady (E. D.) Simon
(click here)
Chapter XVI The Statutory Position in 1933 (click here)
Chapter XVII An International Movement
       Town Planning
       Training the Eye for Town Planning
       Catalogue of School Town Planning Exhibition
(click here)
Chapter XVIII Honours (click here)
Chapter XIX Et Cetera (click here)
Chapter XX All the Trumpets (click here)
Appendix Philosophic Basis of the Town Planning Movement (click here)



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This book, being a labour of love, it has been possible to secure the co-operation of those who knew Sir Ebenezer Howard best in both private life and public work. To all whose names appear as contributors, acknowledgments are due for cordial and helpful assistance. Without pooling our resources nothing adequate could have been done.

There are in the book two motifs. One is to trace the fortunes of a thoroughly practical and common-sense ideal which had to make its way to recognition, and succeeded in doing so. It is the story of one of the most vital, hopeful, stimulating and successful social movements in the history of England during the last thirty years. The other motif is supplied by the development of a personality known to hundreds of people and leaving on all of them a memorable impression. To follow both motifs it has been necessary to assemble the facts in separate chapters. Readers interested only in the movement may wish to skip the personal chapters, and readers interested in the man may skip chapters dealing with the movement; but if so both sets of readers will lose something, for in stark reality the man and the movement were so united that no subtlety of biographical skill could separate their relations and reactions as ideal passes into achievement. This is the permanent interest of the book. Perhaps it is too much to expect that many may find it as interesting to read as it has been to write.


Bramble Bank,
      Alington Lane, Letchworth
            August, 1933.




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Chapter I

In this first chapter, the author quotes Ebenezer Howard:

I was born on January 29th, 1850, within sound of Bow Bells in the City of London at 62, Fore Street. My father's name was Ebenezer and he had several confectioners' shops round London. My mother was a farmer's daughter with good common sense, nothing brilliant about her. I had two elder sisters, Elizabeth being still alive, Mrs. Fred Harrison, and Anne Howard, who bad a first-class reputation as a typist in the city of London. Fore Street has undergone many changes since 1850 but is still one of those city streets where important-looking warehouses stand cheek by jowl with confectioners and similar shops.

At the age of four and a half I was sent to a private school at Sudbury in Suffolk run by two maiden ladies, quiet, sensible women who wrote with quill pens. Here I was well taught, and looking back, I remember I had a special taste for poetry.

At nine years of age I went to a school in Cheshunt, Hertfordshire, owned by Mr. Dukes. I well remember there were nine acres to play in, a lovely fishpond and beautiful trees. One of the cedar trees was said to be the finest in Hertfordshire.

[ The 1861 census recorded Howard, age 9 {should be 10}, born London Wall, Middlesex, pupil at Theobald's Square, Cheshunt, in the household of Joshua Dukes, age 46, married schoolmaster born Whitechapel. Also present are Dukes's wife, their seven children ages 4 to 18, three servants, a governess, two assistant masters, and twenty-three other pupils ages 7 to 15, all boys bar two.]

I was three and a half years at this school before I reached the class I should have entered when starting. I was given simple little pieces of poetry to learn such as:

Oh come, Mrs. Peacock,
You must not be proud.

At twelve years of age I went to Ipswich, Stoke Hall, owned by Mr. Buck, where I remained till I was fifteen. Then I went to the office of Messrs. Greaves and Son, Stockbrokers, Warnford Court, London, where I used to copy letters into a book with. a quill pen. Afterwards I was with Mr. C. Elliott, a merchant, for three years, when I taught myself shorthand. From there I went into the office of Mr. Edmund Kimber, solicitor, at Winchester Buildings, for a few months, where I did correspondence.

In 1869, Congregationalist preacher Joseph Parker became minister of the Poultry Chapel. He began the scheme for the building of a new church building. £70,000 was raised, and in 1874, the City Temple in Holborn Viaduct was erected, and Parker and his congregation moved there. In the first marriage ceremony at the City Temple, Ebenezer Howard's sister Elizabeth Howard married the son of the deacon. Macfadyen continues quoting Howard:

One Sunday, I went to Poultry Chapel, took down Dr. Parker's sermon in shorthand, and sent it to him with an offer to do this for him every Sunday. Dr. Parker sent for me to call and asked me to be his private Secretary. I was with him for about three months until I suppose he got tired of paying my wages.

Macfadyen thinks that Ebenezer was profoundly influenced by coming into contact with such as strong personality as Reverend Parker.




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Chapter II

The author quotes several anecdotes about Ebenezer's father (Ebenezer senior) from Mrs E. M. Benn, daughter of his cousin. They illustrate his kindness to others, his forgivingness, and his absentmindedness.

Ebenezer Howard I., Father of the founder of the movement.

(click image to enlarge)

Macfadyen thinks Ebenezer senior was descended from the Howards of Effingham, as this last paragraph from the chapter indicates:

There is obviously no ground for the exaggeration which has described the second Ebenezer Howard as 'born in a slum.' His father was one of a family of nine. That, with the strict English laws of succession, is sufficient to account for the fact that he had to 'do for himself.' Though the pedigree is obscure, his father was probably descended from the Howards of Effingham. The story of the English countryman who goes up to London and is carried along by the growth of London has been well told by Galsworthy in the Forsyte Saga. The original Ebenezer Howard of Fore Street might be fitted quite appropriately into that framework. Ebenezer Howard of the Garden City movement had the keen liquid blue eyes, the developed brow, mobile features, the perfect health, clear complexion and the reliable nerve of the English countryside. His voice was a rich baritone, very useful to a speaker. Though it took him a long time to find his métier, his reaction to City life was true to type when it came. He knew that the City was no proper environment for the human body.

[ Macfadyen gives no evidence that Howard senior is descended from the Howards of Effingham, and the suggestion may be fanciful. From census and LDS/IGI records, I have discovered that he was born on 1st January 1817 and baptised in the following month in Bathside Chapel (Independent Congregational) Harwich, son of Isaac and Tamar Howard. In 1851, he is recorded as a biscuit baker, age 34, in Tower Without, Middlesex, with wife Ann, born Rauceby, Lincolnshire, and three children, Annie (4), Elizabeth (3) and Ebenezer (1), all born in Cripplegate. Also present are a baker's man and two other servants.]




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Chapter III

In the first part of this chapter, the author describes briefly, using mainly Howard's own words, his sojourn in America, which I believe lasted from 1871 until December 1876, with a short holiday back in England in 1874. Quoting Howard:

After three years in a solicitor's office where my skill in short-hand was very useful, I went, with two friends, to Nebraska - partly for the benefit, as we anticipated, of the buffaloes.

[ Macfadyen writes that the real reason for the trip was doctor's orders for a supposed weakness of the lungs.]

At Des Moines, Iowa, we were introduced to some Irish-Canadians, and as they had decided to go to Howard County, Nebraska, we went there too.

They started a little church - I do not mean a building - and took my first name (not however wittingly) as the name of their new congregation.

After a few months I turned eastward to Chicago and was soon on the staff of Ely and Burnham, stenographers in the Law Courts in that City. Ely had been private Secretary to General

My stay in Chicago had great influence on my life - giving me a fuller and wider outlook on religious and social questions than I should have gained in England. A professional confrère, Alonzo M. Griffen, of a Quaker family (whom I met again in Detroit years afterwards), helped me greatly in the direction of perfect freedom of thought; and associated with this, a very deep sense of responsibility, and a clear perception that all values, to be rightly estimated must be assessed mainly by their influence on the spiritual elements in our nature. Thus only can material conditions be widely and permanently improved. We became, as our friends remarked, like brothers.

In 1876 Griffen and I were commissioned by the Chicago Times to furnish a verbatim note of an address by Mrs. Cora Richmond. I well remember how deeply we were impressed by the very beautiful invocation which preceded the address.

Macfadyen gives the following quotation from "Mrs Berry" who, I think, was Howard's daughter Edith Mary Howard who married Frederick Ernest Berry in 1907:

Cora Richmond afterwards became a well-known Christian Science lecturer. Father visited her on several occasions, and on one of these she advised him to give up his endeavours to produce mechanical inventions:

"I can see no future for you in that line. I see you in the centre of a series of circles working at something which will be of great service to humanity."

Macfadyen opines that this advice had a relation to Howard's plan for a Garden City in concentric circles.

Macfadyen then states that Howard returned to England in 1879 and joined the staff of Messrs. Gurney & Son, official reporters to the Houses of Parliament. I think the date here could be a mistake. Other writers (Moss-Eccardt, Beevers and Buder) say he returned in 1876. Moss-Eccardt says he made several visits to the New York firm E. Remington and Sons between 1876 and 1879 in connection with his work on typewriter design.

Marriage and Home Life

In 1879, at the age of 29, Ebenezer Howard married Elizabeth Ann Bills, whose mother had managed an hotel in Nuneaton and attended the same school as George Eliot; her father was Thomas Bills of Nuneaton. She belonged both to the middle class and the middle English. They had three daughters and one son, and in spite of slender means, their home life was exceptionally happy.

[ The children were Kathleen Daisy Howard (1880), Edith Mary Howard (1881), Arthur Cecil Howard (1883), Doris Marjorie Howard (1889).]

The author continues by quoting Mrs Berry (Edith Howard):

He invented an improvement in the Remington typewriter which was to make a perfect alignment, but when he took it to America Remingtons were not ready to use it. Afterwards they wanted it and wrote asking him to bring it over, but his workshop had mean while been burned down and he could not spare the time or the money to do the work over again.

His favourite amusement was watching cricket at the Oval. When he could manage it he would spend a whole day there. If he took one of us he would get so absorbed in the game that he forgot we were there.

I remember the first meeting at Rectory Road Congregational Church after his book was published. That was the first time I realised that he carried weight on the platform, lie held his audience from the first and kept them interested to the end. There was quite an excitement in the congregation about "Mr. Howard's book," as he had never taken any prominent part in Church affairs. The Rev. Fleming Williams, Minister at Rectory Road, backed him up and became a valuable ally - as also did James Branch (L.C.C.) of the Bective Shoe Company.

John Burns was another of fathers friends; though he approved the aims of the Garden City and admitted the case for it., he refused to be interested in anything outside the boundaries of London. He said "London was big enough for him and required all his energies."

Horatio Bottomley was at one time a "dictatee" in father’s office - that is, father dictated to him from his shorthand notes and it was his part to reproduce the dictation in type. Father worked very long hours. A typical day worked out like this - first in the Courts, then back to his office to dictate, then he waited to correct the typed reports so that they should be "word perfect" for delivery next day. This process of "reading back" to him, on which he insisted, kept him very late at the office.

When it came to writing Tomorrow, the first title of his book, he wrote at our table at home often during meals, dictated to me, and I read it bark to him. His office was No. 11 New Court, Carey Street, and all his activities had their centre there.

Our homes were various and in different parts of London. At one time in Clapham where we had the Common for playground. Afterwards at 127 Evelyn Road, Rectory Road, which brought us into the range of the Rev. Fleming Williams' influence. This counted for a great deal in our young lives, as we thought Mr. Williams almost superhuman. He looked so fine and was so fond of larking with his own family and ours. We were almost members of his family. Afterwards we had a house at Kyverdale Road, Stoke Newington, and it was from there that Garden Cities of Tomorrow was written.

Macfadyen quotes from Ebenezer's wife:

He is always gentle and even-tempered, never a cross word. Of course he never knows what he is eating so lie does not enjoy it; still he never grumbles either.

and from Mrs Benn (daughter of Howard's cousin) whom Howard had employed as a stenographer when she was young:

I had the impression that he seldom heard anything one said; he was inwardly busy with thought. Later, when I had gone into another office, if he saw me lunching at the place he did, he would then come to my table and spend all lunch time over plans for Garden Cities, and while I ate would, with his finger on his maps, show factory sites, drainage system, etc. etc. Hardly any of it could I properly follow, but the idea of the radiating roads from the centre was, I thought, splendid.

I remember the time when he became greatly intrigued with Bellamy's book Looking Backward. I think it inspired him. He said "I buy dozens of copies merely to give away."


Finally from this chapter a few more lines from Macfadyen:

He was absolutely convinced that his ideal was right. It filled his mind. He had identified himself with it till it was part of himself. He impressed people as a transparently honest man who ought to be helped to make good. To him it was a sin exciting moral indignation to go on creating slums after a better way of housing the people had become possible. That being so, the negative side of his obsession was that he was impervious to objections.




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Chapter IV
GENESIS OF Garden Cities of To-morrow

At the beginning of this chapter Macfadyen quotes Ebenezer Howard:

I had already taken part in two very small social experiments unsuccessfully and had twice visited the U.S.A., when in 1898 a Mend lent me Looking Backward, just published in America but not yet in England. This I read at a sitting, not at all critically, and was fairly carried away by the eloquence and evidently strong convictions of the author. This book graphically pictured the whole American nation organised on co-operative principles - this mighty change coming about with marvellous celerity - the necessary mental and ethical changes having previously occurred with equal rapidity.

The next morning as I went up to the City from Stamford Hill I realised, as never before, the splendid possibilities of a new civilisation based on service to the community and not on self-interest, at present the dominant motive. Then I determined to take such part as I could, however small it might be, in helping to bring a new civilisation into being. At once I called on Reeves, then in Fleet Street, and suggested that he should publish an English edition of Looking Backward. This, on my offering to dispose of at least a hundred copies, he agreed to do. Shortly afterwards, and before writing my book, I joined with a few friends in discussing Bellamy's principles. We gradually discovered some of the author's weak points, the most outstanding being the assumption that such a tremendous change could be effected at once.

Thus I was led to put forward proposals for testing out Bellamy's principles though on a very much smaller scale - in brief, to build by private enterprise pervaded by public spirit an entirely new town, industrial, residential and agricultural. At this early stage I pictured such a town and all its departments as under the control of a body of Trustees supplying funds but at a low rate of interest.

Later I began to see other difficulties. The first of these was that of finding men competent and willing to give up other activities in order to manage the agricultural part of the estate. Then the thought flashed into my mind - "Don't tackle your problem thus. Let your agricultural land to various tenants, securing, as far as possible, the increment of land values for the benefit of the Town's people."

In another flash came the thought: "Do the same with your industries."

Then I felt I was getting on to something like solid ground.

[ See Stanley Buder's 1990 book, Visionaries and Planners, Chapter 5 - which perhaps indicate that Howard's recollection of when the ideas came to him are somewhat simplified in the above account.]

Shortly after this I wrote the first part of my book, circulating it in typewritten form among a few friends such as Mr. A. L. Leon and Mr. James Branch, members of the London County Council. Mr. Branch gave an address on the scheme at Toynbee Hall, as I spent a good deal of time lecturing about it, chiefly in London. Month after month rolled by and I had done little to bring my proposals before the public, chiefly because I could find no publisher who would take the risk. Then came to the rescue an American friend, Mr. George Dickman, who, like myself, was a great admirer of Mrs. Cora Richmond.

Mr. Dickman was then Managing Director of the Kodak Company. One evening he said to my late wife who, as he well knew, was a very active helper in our common cause:

"How is Ben getting along with that book ?"

My wife told him.

"Then," he said, "if fifty pounds is of any use he can have it at once as a loan or as a gift."

Afterwards I met him to express my thanks. This was how he put himself alongside my work.

"I am, you see, engaged in reconstructing these premises, and in planning these I have to consider all the different departments and their relations to one another. Your problem is similar, but more complicated and on a far larger scale."

The author relates that Dickman died [1898] soon after this and Howard had an accident on the way to his funeral, falling while hurrying to catch a train.

Macfadyen continues by quoting Howard:

In December 1898 I gave a lecture illustrated by lantern slides prepared by the Rev. Charter Pigott at Rectory Road Congregational Church. Mr. E. T. Young, Past-President of the Society of Actuaries, presided.

Soon after this with the help of a few friends I formed the Garden City Association, the chief object of which was "to promote the discussion of the project suggested by Mr. Ebenezer Howard in his book, To-morrow: A Peaceful Path to Real Reform, and ultimately to formulate a practical scheme on the lines of that project with such modifications as may appear desirable.”

Here, I may add, that my friends and supporters never regarded this book, any more than I did, as more than a sketch or outline of what we hoped to accomplish.

Garden City Association

Macfadyen reproduces the minutes of the first meeting of the Garden City Association held on 10th June, 1899. Part of these minutes are below:

The first meeting of the above Association was held at the offices of Mr. Alexander W. Payne, 70 Finsbury Pavement, London, E.C.

Present: Messrs. A. Bishop, O. Crosoer, the Rev. J. Johnson, G. King. E. Howard, J. Hyder. F. Mansford, A. Payne, W. Charter Piggott, W. Sheowring, A. Singleton, F. Steere, and J. Bruce Wallace.

Mr. Alfred Bishop was elected to the Chair.

Mr Francis W. Steere was elected Honorary Secretary pro tem.

Mr. Ebenezer Howard made a statement in which he dwelt upon the advantages and necessity of forming an Association. Each member should make it his business to enlist associates from his own neighbourhood. There were many difficulties to be overcome. Only one of those writers who had reviewed his book had grappled really with them. Persons who were ready to face and discuss them would be of the greatest use in an Association of this kind. There was an absolute necessity that many should co-operate, in order to bring in others and aid in the dissemination of the idea.

Proposed by Mr. Hyder seconded by Mr. Johnson and carried unanimously and that those here present hereby constitute themselves such an Association.

The names and addresses of those present became the list of the first members of the Association. They were:

  Alfred Bishop "Barnwood," Tunbridge Wells.
  George Crosoer 39 Ickleford Road, Hitchin.
  Joseph Johnson 80 Rectory Road, N.
  George King 166 Evening Road, Upper Clapton, N.E.
  Ebenezer Howard 50 Durley Road, Stamford Hill.
  Joseph Hyder 432 Strand, W.C.
  Herbert Mansford 53 Aldersgate Street, E.C.
  Alexander W. Payne 70 Finsbury Pavement, E.C,
  W. Charter Piggott 40 Oliphant St., Queens Park, W.
  W. Sheowring 24 Bethune Road, Stoke Newington.
  A. H Singleton 6 Drapers' Gardens, E.C.
  Francis W. Steere, 7 Archibald Rood, Tufnell Park.
  J. Bruce Wallace 59 St. John's Park. N.



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Chapter V
THE BOOK - Garden Cities of To-morrow - AND ITS INFLUENCE

Macfadyen, in summarising the ideas described in Howard's book, says that:

. . . . . the Garden City that is to be as built in concentric circles - the centre is a group of civic buildings round a campus, midway there is a circular Grand Avenue 400 feet in width with trees and green verges. The outermost circle is an agricultural belt permanently devoted to growing fruit and vegetables for the city and supplying it with eggs and milk. In some distant future other garden cities may arise in the neighbourhood, but there will then be two agricultural belts between them acting as buffers to keep them a wholesome distance apart. There is a manufacturing area, several residential areas, a shopping centre and abundant provision of playing fields.

Macfadyen quotes from elsewhere (source not credited) what he describes as one of the best summaries of Howard's plan:

An estate of 6,000 acres was to be bought at a cost of £40 an acre, or £240,000. The estate was to be held in trust, 'first, as a security for the debenture-holders, and, secondly, in trust for the people of Garden City.' A town was to be built near the centre of the estate to occupy about 1,000 acres. In the centre was to be a park in which were placed the public buildings, and around the park a great arcade containing shops, etc. The population of the town was to be 30,000. The building plots were to be of an average size of 20 by 130 feet. There were to be common gardens and co-operative kitchens. On the outer ring of the town there were to be factories, warehouses, etc., fronting on a circular railway. The agricultural estate of 5,000 acres was to be properly developed for agricultural purposes as part of the scheme, and the population of this belt was taken at 2,000.

The entire revenue of the town was to be derived from ground rents, which were considered to be amply sufficient (a) to pay the interest on the money with which the estate is purchased, (b) to provide a sinking fund for the purpose of paying off the principal, (c) to construct and maintain all such works as are usually constructed and maintained by municipal and other local authorities out of rates compulsorily levied, and (d) after redemption of debentures to provide a large surplus for other purposes, such as old-age pensions or insurance against accident and sickness.

Macfadyen points out how Letchworth, then with a population only half that of the 30,000 envisaged by Howard, had been "discharging many of the functions of a Garden City outlined in the book", but that instead of the easy profits pictured by Howard, there has been a "narrow balance between incoming and outgoings."

In talking about the transformation of industrial England, Macfadyen says:

Mr. Howard's vision gave him a clear picture of how this transformation was to take place. First a Garden City as a working model. Then a group of garden cities each of about 50,000 in habitants. Then clusters of garden cities covering the Home Counties round London. Then the rebuilding of London itself when the inhabitants had some alternative place to go to during the process of rebuilding.




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Chapter VI

The author, in a stirring passage, gives a broad summary about the political forces which were at work in the last two decades of the nineteenth century:

Social enthusiasm ran high. Henry George's Progress and Poverty had made a deep impression and left behind it societies for Land Nationalisation. Mr. Joseph Chamberlain had his campaign on the three F’s [fair rents; fixed tenancies; free sale of leases]. His star shone brilliant in the sky as the Messiah of radical England. Ruskin's economics with their wholly ideal resuscitation of ethical principles in industry were working beneath the surface like a leaven. Herbert Spencer had formulated a doctrine of social evolution which appeared to fit present facts into a hopeful scheme for the future. Arnold Toynbee had given his name to Toynbee Hall and there was a steady movement for the establishment of University settlements. The facts about sweating, overcrowding, unemployment and casual employment, endemic diseases and drink were filtering into the drawing-rooms of the West End. Cardinal Manning had been called in to arbitrate in the Dock Strike. John Burns had been incarcerated for a speech in Trafalgar Square. The Fabians were meeting and talking. W. T. Stead brought out General Booth's Darkest England and the Way Out. Bellamy's Looking Backward had a great run. The Christian Social Union was founded in Oxford - Nonconformists excluded. Father Adderly wrote and preached on the condition of the people and Canon Scott Holland threw a generous ægis over the Commonwealth. Sidney and Mrs. Webb fired off statistics like bullets from a machine gun. The Labour Church broke out like an epidemic in industrial centres. The foundations of the Labour Party were laid. Mr. Lloyd Georges oratory kindled hopes that the mantle of the radical Joseph Chamberlain had fallen on a successor. Ruskin Hall was established in Oxford by Mr. Walter Vrooman to supply the movement with leaders economically equipped for their task. Blatchford's Merrie England ran into many thousands of copies. The Clarion came out week by week written with fervent enthusiasm, pungent satire, in admirably clear, resonant and forceful English, and was read with devout response by thousands of young men and women who discussed it in their Clarion clubs.

He praises the churches for expressing the newly found social conscience. He quotes from William Ralph Inge ("Dean Inge"), 1860-1926, who said in Christian Ethics and Modern Problems (1930):

In the England of forty years ago, the idea of a secularised Kingdom of God, to be realised in the near future, took a strong hold of religious minds. The contrasts between wealth and poverty were more glaring then than they are now, and woman's labour especially was cruelly sweated. It would not be possible to paint such a dark picture to-day as some of our eloquent preachers gave us, not without exaggeration, but true in the main, in Queen Victoria's reign. It is only fair to give some credit to religious leaders like Maurice, Kingsley, and Barnett for stirring the public conscience, and in the next generation to the members of the Christian Social Union, such as Westcott, Scott Holland and Bishop Gore for carrying on their work.

Macfadyen continues by saying that there was something in Howard's book for every kind of idealist: communal ideal for the socialist; public ownership of the unearned increment for those paying high rents; better health and wages for employees which would suit manufacturers; better prospects for workmen; the chance for a town without a pub for temperance reformers; small holdings for those who wanted to get back to the land.

He mentions support by the Quakers:

There is a sturdy backbone of Puritanism in England largely represented by members of the Society of Friends. Numbers of people of this type gravitated to the Garden City in the hope of realising the simpler life as described by Emerson:

To live content with small means: to seek elegance rather than luxury: and refinement rather than fashion: to be worthy, not respectable: and wealthy not rich: to study hard: think quietly: talk gently: act frankly: to listen to stars and birds, to babes and sages with open heart: to bear all cheerfully, do all bravely, await occasions, hurry never. In a word to let the spiritual unbidden and unconscious grow up through the common.

Rapid Progress

In the last three pages of this chapter, the author gives a chronology of the rapid succession of events which unfolded from the publication of Howard's book in 1898 to the formal opening of the First Garden City at Letchworth by Earl Grey in 1903.


Publication of To-morrow: A Peaceful Path to Real Reform, reissued in 1902 under the title Garden Cities of To-morrow. Contrast the concrete effect of this title with *Sir Benjamin Ward's Hygeia and James Silk Buckingham's National Evils and Practical Remedies.

[ *Sir Benjamin Ward Richardson (1828-1896) ]


Eight months after the publication of the book a Garden City Association was formed. The object of the Association was to carry on the discussion of Mr. Howard's project by means of lectures, and "ultimately to formulate a practical scheme on the lines of the project with such modifications as may seem desirable." The first Honorary Secretary was Mr. F. W. Steere, a barrister. He was followed by Mr. Clement M. Bailhache, afterwards Mr. Justice Bailhache. Mr. Howard writes: "Whatever else may be in doubt this is certain - that the Garden City took its rise in the minds and hearts of those who were strongly in favour of the public ownership of land. The Garden City Association was born in the offices of Mr. Alex. Payne, Treasurer of the Land Nationalisation Society: its first meeting was presided over by Mr. Alfred Bishop, long an ardent supporter of the movement: one of its first Honorary Secretaries (Mr. Steere) was also Honorary Secretary of the Land Nationalisation Society: and the Chairman of the Board of Directors of First Garden City Ltd. was the Chairman of the Executive of the Land Nationalisation Society. Three months after the formation Mr. Howard was able to declare: "The Association numbers among its members manufacturers, co operators, architects, artists, medical men, financial experts, lawyers, merchants, ministers of religion, members of the London County Council (Moderate and Progressive) Socialists and Individualists, Radicals and Conservatives.”

Committees were appointed to consider the problems with which the new town would have to deal - land tenure, housing, labour, engineering, architecture, education, liquor traffic, and manufactures. The "Sites Committee" got busy inspecting sites, and intensive propaganda was set going.

May, 1900

The Association resolved "To form a limited company called the Garden City Limited with a share capital of £50,000 of which £5,000 was to be a first issue, with a cumulative 5 per cent dividend, 'redeemable at the option of a body of trustees representing in habitants, provided that when so redeemed holders of shares receive a premium of 10 per cent in addition to any cumulative interest.' "


Mr. Ralph Neville, K.C., became Chairman of the Council, and Mr. Thomas Adams, a young energetic and practical Scot, was appointed its first paid Secretary. A conference was organised at Mr. Cadbury's village, Bournville, and was attended by three hundred delegates from Borough and Urban District Councils, trade unions, co-operative and friendly societies.


A second Conference was held at Port Sunlight near Liverpool - Mr. W. H. Lever's proprietary model town. This was attended by a thousand delegates of public bodies and societies, indicating that the Garden City Movement had captured the imagination of a large public.

June, 1902

There was a meeting in the Crown Room, Holborn Restaurant, with Earl Grey in the Chair. After hearing speeches from Mr. Ralph Neville, Mr. W. H. Lever, Sir William Richmond, the Bishops of Rochester and Hereford and Mr. Aneurin Williams, approval was given to the formation of a PIONEER Company with the definite object of securing a site and preparing a scheme for the development of a Garden City.

July, 1902

The Garden City Pioneer Company was registered with a Capital of £20,000. The memorandum of Association sets forth the object of the Company as follows:

“To promote and further the distribution of the industrial population on the land on the lines suggested in Mr. Ebenezer Howard's book entitled Garden Cities of To-morrow, and to examine, test, and obtain information, advice, and assistance with regard to the matters therein contained, with the view of forming in any part of the United Kingdom Garden Cities, that is to say, towns or settlements for agricultural, industrial, commercial and residential purposes, or any of them, in accordance with Mr. Howard's scheme, or any modifications thereof."

Ralph Neville, K.C., is Chairman. The Directors are Edward Cadbury, Ebenezer Howard, T. H. W. Idris, Howard D. Pearsall, Franklin Thomasson, Thomas Purvis Ritzema, Aneurin Williams.

It is interesting to note that the purposes of the Company are much wider than the formation of one Garden City. They cover the contingencies of a national movement. The whole of the £20,000 was subscribed before December 1902, about four months after the issue of the prospectus.

April, 1903

Through Mr. Herbert Warren of Messrs. Balderston & Warren, the Company heard of the Letchworth estate near Hitchin in Hertfordshire. Within a year from the foundation of the Company contracts were signed for the purchase of the greater part of the estate and shortly afterwards the purchase of the whole area was completed. The land was bought from fifteen different owners at a total cost of £155,587. The area - since increased - was 3,818 acres, so that the average cost per acre was £40 15s. The purchase from individual owners without anyone knowing the whole plan was an epic of skilful management.

September 1, 1903

First Garden City Ltd. was registered at Somerset House with an authorised capital of £300,000 and seven days later the first prospectus was issued inviting subscriptions for £80,000 share capital.

October 9, 1903

Earl Grey presided over a formal opening of the First Garden City at Letchworth. A thousand shareholders and other guests attended a meeting which was to celebrate the beginning of a new movement in a county which had a thousand years of recorded history.

The Pioneer Company, having done its work so well, was wound up seventeen months after its formation.




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Chapter VII

Macfadyen says that as a court stenographer, Howard had become well-known to barristers and judges. One of them was Ralph Neville, K.C. (then a barrister, later a judge), who became chairman of the First Garden City Company when it was formed. Macfadyen quotes Howard's account of how this came about:

Experience has taught me that it is rare to find a successful public man - especially one who is still mounting the ladder - who is willing to identify himself closely and actively with a movement which is in its infancy - especially if that movement be regarded as visionary and impracticable; for to do this may involve grave risk, and a reputation which has been hard to win may be easily lost.

But Mr. Ralph Neville, K.C., - as he was in 1901 - was far too big a man to be influenced by considerations of this kind. His judgment was sound and independent, and he quite wisely relied upon it; his heart was warm, and he allowed it a proper share with his brain in the guidance of his life. In short, he had but to be convinced that a course was right, and he at once decided to pursue it, regardless of personal consequences.

In 1901, I had already seen much of Mr. Neville, for I had taken shorthand notes of his speeches and his examination of witnesses at the High Court, and had become impressed with his great ability and his rare fairness. So, when in March of that year I found that he had been endorsing the proposals of the Garden City Association in Labour Co-partnership, I felt "Now our movement will go ahead, for we shall secure a truly doughty and courageous Chairman."

In an article Mr. Neville had said:

Without pledging myself to every detail - for we still await lessons of experience - it may be confidently asserted that the idea is based upon sound economic principle. In the increment in the value of town lands lies a huge fund hitherto carelessly given away, which, if wisely utilised, might enable the inhabitants of a town to combine in a great measure the advantages of a country life with that of town life, and while offering specially favourable conditions to industry, might raise the standard of existence among the population to an almost incalculable degree.

After reading this article I at once called at his chambers in Old Square. He received mc most cordially, and at once agreed to join the Association. He soon became Chairman of its Council, and took an active and prominent part in a movement which up till then had progressed indeed but all too slowly. For up to this time the Garden City Association had no paid Secretary, and only a share in an office, kindly lent by the Land Nationalisation Society. But now, with Mr. Neville's generous help, and relying too on a promise of substantial support secured to us through Mr. Clement Bailhache (our then hon. Secretary, now a judge of the High Court) we were able to take offices in Chancery Lane and to set about finding a secretary who would be able to devote his whole time to the work; and we were fortunate to secure in this capacity a man who has been a tower of strength to the movement - Mr. Thomas Adams, now so well known throughout this country and abroad.




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Chapter VIII

The author says that his book is a study of an idealist successful in getting his ideals adopted but beset by snags along the way. Most of this chapter comprises a long quotation of a speech given in February 1932 by Reginald Hine, local historian of Hitchin, to the Rotary clubs of Hitchin and Letchworth. In this, Hine explains how indignant contempt between the people of Hitchin and Letchworth gradually gave way to mutual respect.




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Chapter IX

This chapter, only four pages in length, I found the most interesting one in the book so far. It is concerned with the ownership and control of the land at Letchworth.

An essential part of Howard's scheme was that all the land for the town should be owned and held in trust so that the increment in value should be used for the good of the whole community. Macfadyen relates that a division of opinion arose over what to do when a particular company (not named) expressed a desire to build a factory at Letchworth. This was highly desirable because it would provide employment and provide revenue from rates. However, the company insisted that they own the freehold and could chose a site outside the factory area.

Would the material benefit outweigh the Director's loyalty to the scheme ? An animated discussion led to a full statement by Mr Howard in the Magazine called The City which was then being ably edited by Henry Bryan Binns.

[ Henry Bryan Binns (1873-1923) was originally a fruit grower from Yorkshire, later poet and historian. He wrote, jointly with John Wilhelm Rowntree, A History of the Adult School Movement (1903). Binns also wrote biographies of Walt Whitman (1905) and Abraham Lincoln (1907), as well as other books on poetry and Italian art. ]

Macfadyen does not say when the controversy happened. According to C. B. Purdom (in The Building of Satellite Towns, 1949, and in The Letchworth Achievement, (1963)), the magazine The City ran from 1909 to 1911, so it must have been in those years. Macfadyen gives the whole text of Howard's article in the next chapter.

Macfadyen gives his own assessment and the problem of the ownership of land:

The landlord as the mainstay of English agriculture has broken down under the burden of his own impecuniosity. He attributes his collapse to high taxation, though it has certainly had contributory causes for which he is partly responsible . . . . .

There is therefore no question more urgent than that of finding some system to take the place of the old land lord. Men and women have been driven off the land to make room for deer, pheasants, grouse and foxes. It is time to reverse the process. The country-side needs men and women as much as men and women need the country-side. There can be no settlement, no contentment, no settled family life till somehow the feudal element in the land system has been eliminated and a satisfactory co-operation has been established between the owner and the cultivator of the land.

Howard's contribution to the problem has not been sufficiently appreciated. Put briefly it is this. If the entire rights of the old landlords are vested in a public Company which holds the land in the interest of its tenants, and in which the tenants themselves hold shares, the tenant receives back in dividends a substantial part of what he pays in rent. Money paid in rent circulates but does not stagnate anywhere. It is the tenant’s interest to cultivate as well as he can even if that means a higher rent - because a higher rent means a better dividend. Where landlord-control has become Company-control, exercised in the interest of cultivators, it ceases to be objectionable as control. Regulations can be observed, rules obeyed, rents paid, when they mean better organisation, better marketing facilities, better sanitation, better roads, better education. The tenant has become a member of a community and gets his share of everything that raises the standard of life in the community. The plan might be described as a practical method of subsidising agriculture without cost to the taxpayer or demoralisation of the cultivator.

Macfadyen also quotes from Town Theory and Practice (published in 1921 by joint authors Lethaby, Pepler, Chambers, Unwin, Reiss, editor: Purdom) from chapter V which was by Richard L. Reiss, who argues for the Garden City policy:

There is great value in the whole of the land being in one ownership, because

(a) It is then possible to prepare a comprehensive plan for the whole area.

(b) In considering that plan, any reduction in the potential land value which may be brought about by restricting a particular area to agricultural purposes only, may be counterbalanced by the increases of value due to having restricted factory or residential areas.

(c) The limitations in value due to land being used for open spaces or recreative purposes only may be balanced by the increases in value of the sites facing such land.

In a word, the creation of land values will be in one hand. But it is not sufficient that the land should be in one ownership. The monopoly thus created must be used to public advantage. The predominating consideration in the preparation and carrying out of a town plan must be the interests of the town rather than the profit of individuals. Moreover, the excess of land values created over and above the amount required to cover the interest upon the capital cost of development must be used for the benefit of the town as a whole. These results can only be achieved by the whole of the fee-simple land not merely being in one ownership but in the ownership of some public body, whether Local Authority or the State, or else held by some person or body of persons in trust for the community.

If this policy be adopted, then the following results can be achieved:

(1) The main object of those preparing the town plan will be to secure the best possible town from the point of view of the citizens residing in it.

(2) The same motive will inspire those responsible for the carrying out of the town plan, an operation which will, of necessity, take a considerable period of time, and will require continuity of purpose. However public-spirited a private owner may be, he cannot guarantee a like spirit on the part of his heirs.

(3) In particular, the permanent maintenance of a belt of rural land can be secured.

(4) Changes in land values created by the community will be enjoyed by the community.

(5) Greater public spirit in civic life and a larger measure of co-operation for the public good by the general body of citizens will result from the sense of the corporate ownership of land and the consequent knowledge that improvements in value will go to public ends.

(6) The grievances of the ordinary leaseholder on the renewal of the lease will be obviated. Instead of the ground landlord for his own profit exacting the utmost farthing on such renewal, the fact that any additional rent does not swell private coffers will on the one hand be a restriction against extortion, and on the other ensure that the increase in value, finds its way back to the general community.

(7) The creation of vested interests is minimised, and thus one of the greatest obstacles to improvement is removed and greater speed and precision in development is secured.

(8) Generally the corporate ownership of the land gives stability to the city.

It will be seen that the garden city policy secures the main objects of those who advocate the taxation of land values and the nationalisation of the land, while at the same time it meets the objections of those who object to both proposals. The fact that people holding widely divergent views upon the land question generally have agreed upon this policy, with regard to the creation of garden cities, is the strongest evidence of its soundness.




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Chapter X

As explained above, this chapter comprises the text of the article by Ebenezer Howard which appeared in the monthly magazine The City. In this article, Howard explains that the leasing policy had been changed by the company from perpetual leases revised in value every seven years, to fixed-term 99-year leases (he thinks not justly but for understandable reasons), but he argues that the principles should not further be diluted by replacement of the leasehold system by sale of freeholds.

All true progress in science and art is based upon observation, experience and experiment. We advance from practice to theory, and again from theory to practice. In social science - in the science of human relations - this is as true as it is in the science of chemistry. We must do, if we would know. We must act, if we would formulate true theories of action. And the almost inevitable result of new courses of action is the discovery of flaws in our theories, and these, if we are wise, we seek to remove, first in thought and then in more enlightened activity.

The essential aim of the Garden City as conceived in my mind was this: it was to unite people of good will, irrespective of creed or party, in a worthy purpose - the building of a city on juster, saner, healthier and more efficient lines than the cities of the old order. To this end I and those who worked with me sought to lay down a basis upon which common action could proceed, with as little danger of rupture and disintegration as might be. We soon found that all who were interested in the question were agreed in these propositions:

1. That there was terrible overcrowding in our great cities.

2. That our country-sides were rapidly becoming depopulated.

3. That it was therefore eminently desirable to attract people from places where they were in excess to places where they were insufficient in number.

4. That a combination of town and country life would be of great value.

5. That towns should be carefully planned and not allowed to grow up in a haphazard fashion, and that a very effective way of proving this elementary but entirely neglected truth, would be to build a town which should be from the very outset carefully planned in the interests of its future inhabitants.

6. That as industries of various kinds frequently remove for purely economic reasons into the country and into small country towns, it would be desirable in the interest of the whole nation that a large estate should be purchased in an agricultural district and at an agricultural price, and special efforts made to attract industries to it. That to this end special advantages should be offered to manufacturers and their employees - such as railway sidings, inexpensive land (permitting of one-storey factories), cheap power, plenty of light, pure air, houses with good gardens attached, at rents low as compared with those of the crowded city, and in healthy surroundings near to the work and the play of the workers.

7. That it was also very essential to attract to the town a due proportion of professional and tradespeople and people of leisure, culture and refinement, and to attract to the agricultural zone (which it was deemed very important to provide permanently around the town), an agricultural population of whom a sufficient number should be provided with small holdings and allotments.

8. That as it could not be reasonably expected that any British Government would undertake such an experimental enterprise, it was necessary that those who believed in its value should unite and voluntarily subscribe the necessary funds, and create the necessary organisation.

9. That a Joint Stock Company, with limited liability, was the best and most practicable form for the organisation to assume at the outset.

10. That if the growth of the town was rapid, a large and rapid increment of land values would inevitably arise, and that such increment would afford a good basis of security for the capital invested.

11. That, in view of the public issues involved, investors should voluntarily, and in legal form, limit the dividends on their shares to some fixed percentage (afterwards settled definitely at 5 per cent), and that all profits after such fixed return should inure to the benefit of the community, either in the form of increased services or in the form of reduced rates.

12. That in due time the Company should be voluntarily wound up, making way for a Trust representing the inhabitants, the shareholders receiving the par value of their shares, plus any accrued dividend not yet paid and a bonus of 10 per cent.

So far, as I have said, we found entire agreement as to our programme.

But, on the other hand, in regard to some very important details, considerable differences of opinion manifested themselves, and this at an early stage, and long before the Company actually got to work. Perhaps the most important of these differences was in regard to land tenure. At the outset I suggested the following system. (1) Perpetual leases, (2) Revaluation every seven years or so, when the rent payable under the lease would be raised or lowered, according to the increase or decrease in the value of the site, irrespective of buildings and improvements effected by the tenant. Now if this scheme had proved acceptable and workable, the ultimate result would have been to secure the whole increment of land values to the people of the town, or to some Trust representing them, and would have created a fund out of which a large part of the public services of the community could be met. But this system did not prove acceptable, and therefore it was unworkable. There were, indeed, not a few who were so animated with a desire to make the project a very complete success, and were so convinced of the value and justice of the principle of the communal ownership of land, that they willingly agreed to leases of this kind. But many more, though personally willing to enter into this arrangement, found the way beset with difficulties. Their lawyers advised them against such a novel form of lease, warning them that they would not be able to dispose of it; and, if they wanted to borrow money with which to build, the mortgagees, or, if not the mortgagees, the mortgagees' solicitors, raised difficulties. And, I must confess, human nature, and especially custom, being what it is to-day, the difficulties were not by any means imaginary. Who was to undertake the task of valuing the sites every seven years ? How was the assessment to be reviewed if thought unfair ? Mr. A. might trust himself to be ready to pay a higher ground rent if his property improved in value; but could he trust Messrs. C. and P. to do likewise ? Would not endless difficulties, jealousies and heart-burnings arise ?

Then it must be remembered that not a few helped forward this experiment even in the early days who did not at all hold this view on the land question, and that very many of those who came to Letchworth came (and we cordially welcomed them) simply because they thought that Letchworth was an interesting and a healthy place in which to live, or a desirable place in which to conduct business.

Under these circumstances it clearly became necessary to modify our proposals. For it is an essential principle implied in all concerted action of a large number of people that the rate of progress must depend, not upon the speed with which the advanced guard are ready to move, but upon the speed capacity of the rank and file.

The directors, therefore, decided to grant leases of ninety-nine years at fixed rents -leases very much on ordinary lines. And these leases give the Company and its successors the usual reversion at the expiry of the lease to property erected upon the land. Now this is a principle which, personally, I believe to be neither sound nor just. On the other hand, the directors were in this grave difficulty. To draw up leases departing too much from established precedent would be to create all sorts of financial difficulties, and these could not fail to affect adversely the tenants almost immediately. Besides, the leases would, of course, not expire for ninety-nine years, and it is inconceivable that those who are then responsible for the administration of the lessors' rights would be capable of such an act of flagrant injustice as to appropriate without compensation all buildings erected on their land, or that the law of this country would then permit such injustice, even if it were contemplated.

But, in order to meet the wishes of those who are naturally prejudiced against the leasehold system (as it has hitherto been worked in this country), and who, therefore, desire longer leases than ninety-nine years, the Company has granted leases on the following terms. The rent fixed exceeds by 10 per cent the ordinary rent, and at the end of the term of ninety-nine years the lessee has the right to a fresh term of ninety-nine years at a rent to be determined by the then value of the land apart from buildings.

The problem which I will now endeavour to deal with, is, what should be our future policy in the light of the experience we have already gained I shall speak with that absolute frankness which I believe is always best, but entirely on my own responsibility, and for nobody but myself.

It is only by taking a somewhat comprehensive view of the problem of city building that one can appreciate in its due proportions the very difficult question before us, a question as to which the sincerest well-wishers of the movement do undoubtedly take diverse views.

The first point which may be fairly urged against the sale of freeholds at Letchworth is that this would certainly involve a change of policy. The principle of the public ownership of land has been a plank very generally accepted by supporters of the movement, and embodied in many resolutions; and it seems to me, therefore, clear that no change of policy in this direction should be attempted unless for the clearest and most cogent reasons. For nothing is so harassing, nothing causes so much friction, nothing produces such a sense of uncertainty and so damps enthusiasm - the chief asset in all great movements - as a change of policy on broad and clear issues. Indeed, even if a clear case is made out for such a change of policy, some loss of enthusiasm is still inevitable; while, if such a case is not made out, then there is danger of atrophy and even death.

The next point to notice is that our leasehold system has proved successful; for the growth of the town under it has been quite phenomenal, especially when the difficulties inherent in a first venture are taken into account. But, on the other hand, those of us who are behind the scenes know that there has been in certain quarters a demand for freeholds for factories (I shall here only deal with the question of sale for such purposes), and it is suggested by some that if such a demand were met it would lead to a more rapid growth of the industrial elements of the town, to which we all attach primary importance.

The question thus becomes somewhat complicated. On the one hand one sees that the rapid growth of the town is essential to the success of the scheme, and possibly even to the continued existence of the town as a real Garden City; but one sees, on the other hand, that any effort to foster rapid growth which involves a change of policy, may result in losses in other directions, difficult indeed to measure, but, perhaps, far outweighing the apparent gains of an easily-made concession. Who can value, as an element making for healthy growth, an ever-increasing sense of unity of purpose, more and more fully expressing itself in our ever-enlarging social life, or measure the loss of power which comes from a breaking up into rival camps, and a loss of this sense of unity ? In one case, every citizen is a missionary, compelling strangers to come in; in the other, newcomers are greeted with less warmth. Public ownership of land makes distinctly for this unity; it is, indeed, the embodiment of it, and, without that spirit, could not really continue to exist.

I think we can now conveniently consider the problem under several distinct heads.

First: How far would the sale of freeholds interfere with that measure of control by the community, which, if only it be wisely and temperately exercised, will prove to be for the benefit of all - a unifying influence, yet never hampering true individuality ? I have had on this point the very kind assistance of a member of the Equity Bar, who has supplied me with the following statement of the law on this subject:

There is one important difference between the freehold and leasehold systems as applied to the development of a building estate. This difference consists in the amount of legal control which the owner can retain over the user of the property in each case. This control is effected by means of the covenants which the first purchaser or lessee of each plot enters into in his purchase deed or lease. In the case of leaseholds, every covenant by the lessee, whether affirmative or negative, which concerns the land leased, can be enforced by the landlord and his assigns at any time during the term granted as against the first lessee and all assigns from him. If the tenant commits a breach of any covenant in the lease (e.g. fails to repair the house or to keep the garden in order) the landlord may re-enter, and, unless the tenant remedies the breach, the lease will be determined. The can also re-enter as against a sub-lessee, although there is no contract subsisting between them. The result is that the land is bound by the covenants during the subsistence of the lease, irrespective of the person who may occupy the position of landlord or tenant at any particular time.

In the case of freeholds, all covenants by the purchaser can be enforced by the vendor against the purchaser and his estate after his death by an action for damages, and in some cases by injunction. But affirmative covenants (e.g. to keep a garden in order) cannot be enforced against an assign of the purchaser. Negative covenants relating to the user of the plot (e.g. not to use the premises except as a private dwelling-house) can be enforced by the vendor against any person who may buy the plot with notice of the restriction. That is to say, the vendor can obtain an injunction in the Chancery Division to restrain the prohibited user. This right to obtain an injunction may be lost in various ways. For instance:

(a) If a Garden City Co. permitted A, B, and C to open butchers' shops in a residential road, the Company could not obtain an injunction to restrain D from doing likewise.

(b) If a Garden City Co. disposed of all the freehold of the city save the agricultural belt, and conveyed the belt to trustees for the community, the trustees could not enforce the covenants.

(c) If the whole character of a district changes, it may become inequitable to enforce restrictive covenants.

On the other hand, where there is a general building scheme for a particular area, the owner for the time being of any plot may have a right to obtain an injunction against the owner of another plot who infringes restrictions imposed on the whole area.”

Without going into minutiæ then, it is quite clear that the city, in parting with freeholds, would be parting with some measure of that beneficial control which it can retain in its leases; and for this reason some elements of danger would come in, not the least of these being, possibly, an exaggerated sense of that danger.

The next point to consider is what would be the comparative results of the sale of freeholds, and the granting of leases.*

( *For the purpose of this comparison I do not take into account the question of whether more land would be taken from the Company under one system than under the other, a point I shall touch upon later.)

Let me put a concrete case: A and B occupy adjoining factory sites - sites of equal value. A has a ninety-nine years' lease, with right to a further lease at the end of the term, at a rent equal to the then value of the land, apart from buildings - such value to be fixed, of course, by an independent valuer. B has a freehold, for which he has paid £500. The Company is borrowing money at 4 per cent. In these circumstances, during the currency of the lease, unless there is a change in .the rate of interest paid by the Company, or its successors, the financial results are the same in the case of the sale as in the case of the lease. But then it must not be forgotten that, if we are true City Builders, we are working not only for to-day or for to-morrow, we are working for generations yet unborn; and so we see that, while in the case of the lease the (probably) greatly increased value of the land, apart from buildings, would at the end of ninety-nine years revert to trustees for the community, in the case of freehold the owner of the land and his successors, who might be living in some quite distant place and have no interest whatever in the Garden City, would be able to enjoy the unearned increment. Further, the owner of the factory at the end of his ninety-nine years' lease would, as a rate-payer, enjoy his full share in the increased rents paid on the falling in of leases now being granted, provided he desired to take a fresh lease.

So stated, the question seems extremely simple, and an almost irresistible argument seems to arise in favour of a retention of freeholds, but yet a closer examination will show that the question is by no means so simple as it may appear.

Rapid growth, we all know, is vital to the success of our scheme. It follows, therefore, that our land policy, whatever it is, must not be too far ahead of the growth of public opinion. Our policy may be, per se, the wisest conceivable policy; it may be a policy which everyone will ultimately come to accept; it may be a policy which it will hurt us, as with a sharp blow, to give up; but yet, if to-day that policy is not understood and accepted by a sufficient number of organisers of industry, and by a sufficient number of potential shareholders and tenants, then the effort to preserve the policy might mean that we not only fail on this important point, but on many other points which are of, perhaps, equally vital importance, and so the Garden City might degenerate into a mere building speculation carried on primarily in the interests of its mortgagees.

I have purposely put the issue in this very bald way, because I am sure it is the issue we have to face. Are we strong enough, wise enough, united enough, self-sacrificing enough, to maintain our policy, and are there sufficient potential supporters and participants in our movement whom we can draw in ? Surely it is worth a great effort, here at Garden City, to hold up the torch of progress.

A great migratory movement of industries out of London is going forward now. Take a journey on the Great Western, and you will see dozens of new factories being erected on freehold land. These factories are dropped down, as it were, anyhow, regardless of proper conditions of housing, of town planning, of social benefits for the workers; and no one with a seeing eye can fail to be convinced that this unscientific, I might say this inhuman, way of dealing with the infinitely diverse problems of factory life, is, or soon will be, quite out of date. The flowing tide is not with but against this method of carrying on industry, and the freeholds which have been acquired by these factories represent, as I believe, a security not half so good as the leases of a Garden City.

This brings me to my last point. We must convince the manufacturer that our interests, and his, and the workers', are, at least on this point, one and undivided. He, quite rightly, must, before he comes, see in the Garden City, as those before him have seen, a sound business proposition. I would grant to every factory a long lease. I would not care if it were a lease of 999 years, subject to this, that the rent should be revisible at periods not exceeding ninety-nine years on the basis of the then value of the land apart from buildings, such value to be assessed by an independent valuer. And I would convince the manufacturer that it was to his interest to have such a lease rather than a freehold. You may say it would be difficult. But I would do it, or, at least, I would do it with the kind of man we most want, the man who would be a credit to our town, helping us so to build it that, when our structure was complete, it would be such a success, inwardly and outwardly, that its example would virtually put an end to a system of industry which regards a large reservoir of unemployed, and therefore degenerating labour, as one of the essentials of success.

I do not hesitate to say that I have had my doubts on this matter. I am, indeed, as my friends know, a man of some faith; but I am also - perhaps the combination is somewhat rare - a terrible sceptic. Now, however, the measure of success we have attained, and the clear view I have of some of the main reasons why we have not succeeded better, and many other considerations I cannot here go into, have removed all doubts from our policy of retaining the freeholds for factories as well as for residences.




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Chapter XI

In this chapter, the author gives three brief sketches of life in Letchworth. The first is from sometime before the War. A small crowd of about two-hundred watch Vardon and Braid play at the Golf Links on the sward by Letchworth Hall. Returning to the town, the crowd observe May Day celebrations, delayed a month for fine weather. In Howard Park they hear Ebenezer Howard, speaking about life in Somers Town and North St Pancras where half-a-dozen families in squalid conditions share a single water-tap, and his hope that there will be many more Letchworths.

Ten Years Later. War Time.

Soon after the fall of Antwerp [October 1914] a diamond merchant from that city arrived in London with an offer to put down a quarter of a million in making munitions to get back at Germany. He found his way to Letchworth. A munition factory was about the last kind of factory Letchworth would have welcomed in normal times, but the necessity for shells was stern, pressing, and inexorable. So Messrs. Kryn & Lahy, Metal Workers, built what was then the largest factory in Letchworth. Next came squads of skilled Belgian workmen smuggled over somehow with their wives and children. In a few weeks it was reported that there were three thousand Belgians in the town, who explained, "We are workmen, not refugees." They worked night and day in shifts of eight hours. All housing rules had to be suspended, beds were never unoccupied in houses where the Belgians lived. It was Box and Cox all day and all night. The shops were filled with sturdy, pushing women who wanted the best of everything, the best cuts of meat, the freshest butter, the newest eggs whatever the price. They must have beer, though Letchworth had no public-house. Quiet Letchworth residents not accustomed to shopping in a perpetual sale-scrimmage found it difficult to get served at all. The prices of houses went up and rooms were let and sub-let. For the time all rules were in abeyance.

Letchworth residents had not been brought up to take such abuses lying down and meetings were held. Ebenezer Howard would be on his feet half the time protesting against one thing or another which was ruining the fair fame of Letchworth. He had an ear for all grievances and the War was itself the worst grievance of all. It was a troubled, busy, crowded, anxious time for everyone, and at the best all a Letchworthian could hope to do was to survive till better days.

Then a new terror fell on the town. It was bombed from the air. The Germans had heard of the munition factory and sent over a Zeppelin to drop bombs on it. Fortunately the night when it arrived was foggy. The beating of the Zeppelin engine as it groped searching round the town was heard in every house. Then the bombs fell in pairs, one, two, three, a dozen explosions. The ground shook, the houses rocked, it seemed like the end of all things. Where had they fallen ? Who was hit ? Half the town was in the streets or gardens peering through the darkness for some sight of the enemy.

In the morning news spread that the bombs had fallen in the hundred acre field at Willian, killing one man who had been posted there to light flares for aeroplanes. He had lit a flare, mistaking the sound of the Zeppelin, and had drawn the bombs. The field was otherwise unoccupied and had provided a perfectly harmless target for the bombs.

When the next raid came and Letchworth was on tiptoe, suddenly the sky was lit up by a flare of light, and a streak of flame like a giant rocket came spinning through the air to the ground. The Zeppelin had been hit.* A shout of relief rose from everywhere. We could not see one another but we all saw the Zeppelin come down. Quietly and in a subdued frame of mind people slipped off to bed.

(* This was the Zeppelin brought down at Cuffley.)

Later the Germans made another attempt to reach the munition factory. This time they scored a turnip field and the windows of some cottages nearby were broken by concussion. Otherwise they did no harm. But Letchworth became a darkened place for months. Regulations were strict as to lights, residents lived in the alcoves of their dining-rooms, and if a glimmer of light escaped a curtain they found themselves in the Hitchin Police Court.

Ten Years Later

In the third vignette, ten more years have elapsed. Substantial houses line the Broadway. Factories, schools and shops have been built.

From five to six o'clock Baldock Road is one long procession of bicycles, with twinkling lights as the evenings draw in, driven by adventurous young people who make the best of both worlds by living cheaply in some village home and earning Letchworth wages. This is a modern industrial town. Not like anything else. Not at all like industry in Lancashire or Yorkshire, Warwickshire or Staffordshire. Still less like a country market town which sleeps for six days a week to awake to feverish activity on one day in seven. It is alive with the vitality of twentieth-century youth, and is living by its own standards of health, vigour, intelligence and sanity - standards which are making a good many typical English things look out of date.

That night the Rotary Club are holding a special dinner for Sir Ebenezer Howard recently Knighted by His Majesty [New Year Honours, 1927].




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Chapter XII

This chapter is a bit waffly. In it the author praises Howard as a man with "humanising influence", and Letchworth as a town with "balance".

Reply to a Critic

He defends Howard against the criticisms which appeared in Thomas Sharp's book Town and Countryside (1932). Sharp criticises Howard's muddled reasoning, flabby thinking and mixing of sociology and civics. He says Howard was a reformer and not an artist and his movement was a mistake. In answer to this Macfadyen says:

It may be admitted as true that Mr. Howard's aims were human rather than æsthetic; fortunately his advisers Messrs. Parker and Unwin had excellent taste and Howard had the good sense to accept their advice. He was not one of the people who thinks he has secured general agreement because he has done all the talking. He would have agreed that it was better to have large-minded people living in small houses than small-minded people living in large houses. The result in Letchworth is a town which has many claims to simple beauty, vistas which satisfy the æsthetic sense, houses that nestle into their surroundings, lanes that are a rural dream at all seasons of the year.




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Chapter XIII

In this waffly chapter, the author talks about the vigorous social life of the town. He points out one huge change which had taken place since 1900 - the rise of motorised transport. At the beginning, the concentration was on provision of railway sidings, whereas "To-day any firm can have its own quick motor service daily, leaving Letchworth in the morning, visiting all parts of London, and returning in the evening."

He points out that with a cabinet minister saying "no power on earth can prevent the bomber from getting through", the garden city with its houses and factories spread out over a wide area is a safer place than the crowded city. He quotes from Maurice E. Webb who said in 1932:

London has become a vast conglomeration of buildings with no plan and no scheme, some twenty-five miles across. From a fire point of view this uncontrolled building development must be checked. Factories and workshops, sometimes dealing with highly inflammable materials, have been allowed to be dumped down in residential districts without restriction, turning what was a reasonable fire risk into a risk of high hazard for a whole street or streets.

Webb goes on to say that fire prevention is a definite function of town planning or city reconstruction.

In the remainder of the chapter, Macfadyen waxes lyrical on the gardens of Garden City. He gives lists of flowering plants which can be found in Letchworth borders. He paints an idyllic picture. He also talks about small-holders with their apple orchards and other crops. He prints a letter written by Letchworth resident W. G. Furmston who thirty years before had escaped emigration to New Zealand, instead building a cottage in Letchworth for £300 and renting 2¼ acres.




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Chapter XIV

Most of the material in this chapter Macfadyen draws from the evidence submitted to the Parliamentary Committee on Garden Cities and Satellite Towns (1934, chairman Lord Marley) by Sir Edgar Bonham Carter (1870-1956) who was chairman of First Garden City Ltd from 1929 to 1939.

The present Letchworth Estate comprises some 4,562 acres, that is to say, some seven square miles. Its length from north to south is over four miles and its breadth from east to west about three miles.

Before a sod was cut or a brick laid the Directors proceeded to have a plan prepared of the future town. The Town Plan was prepared by Messrs. R. Barry Parker and Raymond Unwin (now Sir Raymond Unwin). It contemplated an eventual population of from 30,000 persons and divided the Estate into a central town area comprising about 1,500 acres and a surrounding agricultural belt. The main principles underlying the Plan are simple and convincing. The land is put to the use for which it is best suited, separate areas being allocated for factories, for shops, for a civic centre and for residences.

The area for factories was laid out along the railway, where there was level ground suitable for factory buildings and sidings, and is about 135 acres in extent. The site has other advantages; it is screened by rising ground from the rest of the town, and being at the north-east of the town, the prevailing winds carry any smoke away from the town. Most of the factories employ electricity for their power, so that little smoke is produced. A secondary small factory area of about ten acres, not provided for in the original Plan, has been developed to the west of the railway station on the north of the railway line for light industries not needing railway sidings, and a further area. has been earmarked for factories.

The main shopping and commercial centre is situated in the streets in proximity to the railway station. A few subsidiary shopping areas are permitted at specially selected points in the residential areas to meet the convenience of residents.

The Town Square, situated on high and level ground in the centre of the Estate, is reserved for a civic centre. The Museum and Secondary School are there, and sites have been reserved for the Town Hall and for Churches.

Development map of Letchworth Garden City - 1913

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Development map of Letchworth Garden City - 1923

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Development map of Letchworth Garden City - 1933

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Macfadyen continues with more material from the 'evidence', covering the residential areas of the town (workers cottages estate, villas and residences), construction of reads, and the agricultural belt. He continues with drainage and funding for housing:

To start with, the Company undertook the drainage and then sewage was disposed of on temporary sites by means of broad irrigation. The Company recovered the cost from Lessees of property connected to the sewers, who, under the terms of their leases, were required to pay a special charge for the purpose. In 1922 the Urban District Council took over the sewers and the work of sewage disposal, and in 1923 they constructed permanent sewage works at a cost of £57,166 on the site on the extreme northern boundary of the Estate, which, as the result of the original survey, had been reserved for the purpose.

The number of villas and residences amounts to about 1,420. Most of them have been built by individuals for their own occupation, or as an investment, or by local builders for sale. A few have been built by a Building Company. The Company has not built villas itself, With a few exceptions, and no large scheme of villa building has been undertaken. The cost of the great majority of the villas erected since the War has varied between £600 to £1,500. The cost of a few has exceeded £2,000. To finance the building or purchase of their houses a large number of persons have borrowed from the Urban District Council under the provisions of the Small Dwellings Acquisition Act, or from Building Societies.

By a special arrangement with a Building Society the Company has guaranteed an advance to approved purchasers of small property in excess of the normal advance made by Building Societies. By this arrangement purchasers have obtained 90 per cent of the purchase price, repayable to the Building Society over a term of years.

One of the principal objects with which Letchworth was founded was to provide better housing conditions for working people than could be found in the old towns; and much thought and care was given by the Company and others in the early days to providing attractive and healthy cottages of a good standard at the lowest possible cost, which should be within the means of the workers in the town. The experience gained at Letchworth before the War did much to raise the standard of cottage building throughout the country, and has had an important influence on the type and character of the cottages provided since the War under municipal schemes.

The great majority of the cottages erected before the War were built by Public Utility Societies. Their capital was obtained partly by shares and loan capital, the dividends on which were limited, and partly by loans from the Public Works Loans Board.

Since the War the Public Utility Societies have not been able to continue building, except on a very small scale, since they have not been able to raise their capital on such favourable terms as the Urban District Council, and the work has fallen to that body.




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Chapter XV

This chapter on Welwyn Garden City is a bit disappointing - there is not so much details as in the earlier chapters on Letchworth. Of course, Welwyn Garden City had been in existence for much less time, and also Dugald Macfadyen lived in Letchworth, not Welwyn.

The last six pages (out of twenty-two) of the chapter are about Wythenshawe near Manchester and Earswick in Yorkshire.

Statutory Recognition and Sate Assistance

The chapter begins with an account of the purchase at auction of the Panshanger Estate in May 1919 by Ebenezer Howard. The year before that Howard had taken Osborn and Purdom for a walk around the Estate as a possible site for the second garden city. However, these two and other and other members of the Garden Cities Association were against a second private enterprise scheme, and were concentrating on getting governmental support. Without consulting them, Howard went ahead with the purchase, raising money (£3,000, which was 10% of the auction reserve price) from a group of friends - J. R. Farquharson, Franklin Thomasson, H. B. Harris, G. Blane, R. L. Reiss, Francis Fremantle and R. O. Moon.

About the time when this crucial step was being taken, Mr. Howard - not yet Sir Ebenezer - was the guest of the present writer at Bramble Bank, Letchworth. We were going together to a dinner, and half an hour before we were to start he came down stairs saying that he had no dress tie. Not having any in the house, Mrs. Macfadyen sent to our neighbours, Mr. and Mrs. Barry Parker, to borrow the desired article. Mrs. Parker sent two - one of her husband's and one of her son's - so that Mr. Howard might have a choice. When he emerged to go to dinner he had both ties on. He had evidently concluded that this was a new fashion which he had not encountered before.

Money was difficult to raise because of the economic climate. Government involvement was needed.

. . . . . Garden Cities made an unobtrusive entrance into Parliamentary life in Mr. Neville Chamberlain's Unhealthy Areas Committee Report in 1920. Opposites suggest each other - and the Committee opined that Garden Cities were better than slums and might be recommended as a cure for abominations standing where they ought not. In July 1921 legislation was passed to enable the State to assist the development of Garden Cities schemes approved by the Ministry of Health. Welwyn was first in making an application under the new Act, and was the first Association authorised to receive a loan from the Public Works Loan Commissioners.

[ See my notes on C. B. Purdom: The Building of satellite Towns: 1925 edition, Part III, Chapter VII (click here) and 1949 edition, Part III, Chapter VII (click here). ]

Macfadyen says that in some important respects the development of Welwyn Garden City differed from that at Letchworth. At Welwyn, the company was much more involved in the development of the town - largely through a number of subsidiaries which were set up for that purpose. These differences were described in a report the Welwyn Directors prepared for Lord Morley's Committee [see previous chapter]. Macfadyen summarises the new approach at Welwyn described in that report:

The Company set out to build a town of a definite size (about forty to fifty thousand inhabitants). With this end in view the area of land to be acquired was carefully considered. The reasons, among others, for its suitability were:

Being about twenty miles north of King's Cross, it was near to, but definitely separated from, London. The Great North Road skirted it on the west side. The main Great Northern Line bisected it and two branch lines radiated east and west from the main line about the centre point of the estate. Its general character was suitable for urban development.

By a coincidence two-thirds of the present site was put up for auction by Lord Desborough, together with other outlying portions of the Panshanger Estate. Sir (then Mr.) Ebenezer Howard, with the financial backing of a few individuals, purchased this portion at the auction. The remaining third of the land necessary in order to complete the site was the property of Lord Salisbury, who agreed to sell it at a similar price to that paid for Lord Desborough's land. The total acreage obtained was about 2,400, at an average price of about £50 per acre.

It is necessary to give the reasons which have led the directors to build up a network of subsidiary undertakings for carrying out various classes of work in connexion with development, a policy which is in marked contrast to that adopted by the First Garden City Limited at Letchworth. It was the definite policy of the Letchworth Company to confine itself, so far as practicable, to land. development and the provision of the main public services.

At Welwyn the policy of the directors has been to undertake any subsidiary enterprise if it seemed desirable for the purpose of stimulating general development. As to whether they would have adopted this different policy if times had been normal and prices static, is difficult to say. Certain of the directors were of opinion that, quite apart from the special difficulties of the time, it was desirable to carry out subsidiary enterprises as a means of utilising to the full the advantages of the Company’s ownership of the freehold.

However this may be, the special difficulties in the early days, caused by the dislocation of the post-war period, led the directors as a whole to adopt the present method of organisation, as will be explained later.*

[ * Note by Captain Reiss - Sir Ebenezer Howard's view was that in the special circumstances of post-war years subsidiaries were necessary. But he was not one of those who took a strong view that subsidiaries in any case were desirable.]

In broad terms, the policy pursued by the Company has been as follows:

Welwyn Garden City Limited (the Parent Company) has, with some trifling exceptions, confined its direct operations to the purchase and development of the land itself and the construction and administration of the Sewage Disposal Works and the Water Supply. These latter two undertakings have been transferred during the present year to the Urban District Council. All other operations (with some minor exceptions), which the Parent Company thought it necessary to undertake, have been conducted through subsidiary or associated organisations, registered either under the Companies Act or under the Industrial and Provident Societies Acts. The capital required for these has been found partly by the Parent Company, in the form of investments and loans, and partly direct from outside sources, such capital being, however, for the most part raised for them by the Parent Company. The subsidiary and associated undertakings at present in existence are as follow:

  Welwyn Garden City Electricity Company Limited;
  Welwyn Public Utility Society Limited;
  Handside Houses Limited (own houses for letting);
  Welwyn Builders Limited (carry out building contracts and jobbing work);
  Welwyn Stores (1929) Limited. Retail trade (bakery, dairy, coal yard, etc.);
  Herts Gravel and Brick Works Limited (production of sand, gravel and bricks);
  Welwyn Transport Limited (owns and operates light railway system and horse transport; also a pit for the production of road stone);
  Welwyn Commercial Buildings Limited (owns and lets industrial and commercial property);
  Playhouses Limited (owns the Cinema-Theatre);
  Digswell Nurseries Limited (nursery gardens, landscape gardening, maintenance of playing fields, fruit farm, etc.);
  New Town Trust Limited (owns certain properties of a special kind);
  Welwyn Publications Limited (owns the local weekly newspaper).

All the foregoing are trading undertakings, and the controlling, and in most cases the entire interest, in them is held by the Parent Company. In addition, the Company held the controlling interest in Welwyn Restaurants Limited (a company owning or managing licensed premises), but has recently sold the predominant interest and now only holds a quarter of the shares.

There are also two subsidiary organisations which are purely Holding Companies, namely: Howardsgate Investment Trust Limited and Welwyn Garden City Investments Limited. The existence of these is due to adventitious circumstances connected with the problems of development.

The evidence to the Committee continues with the management of the company. There were eight or nine directors appointed by shareholders, and three 'civic directors' appointed by the local authority. There is no managing director. Three of the shareholders' directors are responsible for the day to day direction. The principal officers (heads of department) of the parent company are Secretary, General Estate Manager, Financial Secretary and Chief Accountant, Engineer, Surveyor and Estate Agent, Property Manager, Architects (2), and Staff and Welfare Manager.

The first prospectus issued in 1920 offered shares at 7%, but because market rates were exceptionally high, less than £100,000 was subscribed. Bank loans were obtained on the personal guarantees of directors to enable the land purchase to go ahead.

The evidence continues with an account of the loans obtained from 1922 onwards from the Public Works Loan Board. These undoubtedly saved the situation, but the machinery of the Act of 1921 was unsuited to its purpose.

The evidence continues with a summary of schooling provision, the work of the Health Association and the Educational Association, the Central Civic Fund for social services, and the Industrial Scheme for payment of hospital treatment by contribution.

Development map of Welwyn Garden City -1922

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Development map of Welwyn Garden City -1926

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Development map of Welwyn Garden City -1933

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Macfadyen concludes his summary of evidence to the Committee thus:

It is an essential feature of garden city development on its economic side that a large amount of capital expenditure has to be incurred well in advance of possible revenue-earning capacity. It has always been recognised that, in the early years of such development, a considerable amount of interest on borrowed capital will have to be added to capital which will accumulate at compound interest during a period of time.

The experience of Welwyn Garden City Limited has shown that, granted reasonably static conditions with regard to costs and normal and reasonably static rates of interest on borrowed monies, the establishment and development of a garden city is definitely an economic proposition. But we suggest that the establishment of garden cities is too large an operation to be carried out, except as a pioneering experiment by enthusiasts, without the assistance of the State or some public authority. This was recognised by Parliament in the Act of 1921, but the machinery set up thereby has proved unsuited to its purpose.

The long period which must elapse before the full fructification of the scheme means that a comparatively small amount of capital can be obtained at reasonable rates of interest, and that chiefly from people actuated by public, as opposed to purely private, considerations.

If, therefore, the Committee is of opinion that the establishment of such garden cities is in the public interest, we suggest that some public machinery must be set up which will provide a substantial amount of the loans necessary, at any rate in the early days of development, and that the body actually responsible for making the loans should be definitely instructed by Parliament that the object is to establish garden cities. Whilst being cautious as to the scheme to be assisted, some risk must nevertheless be taken by the State. Loans granted only on unimpeachable security will not be sufficient for the purpose.

It is the very essence of the garden city from the economic point of view that development should be reasonably rapid; only in this way can the amount of interest placed to capital be prevented from accumulating too rapidly in the early days. Forces, therefore, must be set in motion which will direct industry and population to the new garden cities as opposed to sporadic and haphazard development on the outskirts of the large towns and ribbons along the main roads radiating from them. So far the evidence given to Lord Marley's Committee.

Historique de Welwyn

This section comprises a page from a book by Monsieur Benoit-Levy in French which give fulsome praise of Monsieur Howard, Monsieur Louis de Soissons, Letchworth, Welwyn, etc. etc.

Wythenshawe - Contribution by Lady (E. D.) Simon

Macfadyen gives Wythenshawe as the latest development in the Garden City movement. Wythenshawe Hall and 250 acres of parkland were purchased by Sir Ernest and Lady Simon and presented to Manchester City Corporation as part of the land need for the building of a satellite garden town. Barry Parker of Letchworth was engaged to prepare the town plan for the three parishes of the Tatton Estate which were Northenden, Northern Etchells and Baguley. (There are five pages of text on Wythenshawe, and two maps and some photographs - see bottom.)

Wythenshawe in relation to other parts of the city of Manchester

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City of Manchester: Wythenshawe

With acknowledgments to Barry Parker, F.R.I.B.A., P.P.T.P.I.

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The Joseph Rowntree Village Trust was created in 1904 to fund the building of a workers' village at Earswick. The original design was by Parker and Unwin. The village is not reserved for Rowntree employees who only occupy about half the housing. (There is one page of text on Earswick - no illustrations.)




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Chapter XVI

In this short chapter, the author summarises how the garden city idea was incorporated into the law.

Mention in reports


This year saw the first semi-official appearance of the name Garden City, paradoxically enough in an interim report to the Minister of Health, by the Unhealthy Areas Committee.

We suggest 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 can live close to their work under the best possible conditions.


A Royal Commission on Local Government received evidence from the Garden Cities and Town Planning Association. It was pointed out that several large Corporations were developing residential estates outside their boundaries which lacked the essential features of the garden city owing to difficulties arising under existing laws. If these difficulties could be overcome areas could be developed as garden cities.

Acts of Parliament


Housing (Additional Powers) Act. A section provided for the acquisition of land by compulsion if necessary for housing schemes.


Housing Act. Section 7 enabled the Public Works Loan Board to lend money on first mortgage to authorised Associations for the purpose of developing garden city schemes.


Town-Planning Act. Clause 16 consolidated the two Acts mentioned.


Town and Country Planning Act. Clause 35 passed through Standing Committee A of the House of Commons and through the House without any amendment. It reads:

Where the Minister is satisfied that any local authority, or two or more local authorities jointly, or any authorised association, are prepared to purchase any land and develop it as a garden city . . . . . and have funds available for this purpose he may with the consent of the Treasury and after consultation with the Board of Trade, the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, and the Minister of Transport, acquire that land on behalf of the authority or association, either by agreement or compulsorily, in any case in which it appears to the Minister necessary or expedient so to do for the purpose of securing the development of the land as aforesaid and may do all such things as may be necessary to vest the land so acquired in the local authority or association.

In this section 'local authority' includes a County Council. The expression 'Garden City' includes garden suburb or garden village, and 'authorised association' means any society, company, or body of persons approved by the Minister whose objects include the promotion, formation, or management of garden cities, and the erection, improvement, or management of buildings for the working classes and others, and which does not trade for profit, or whose constitution forbids the issue of any share or loan capital with interest or dividend exceeding the rate for the time being fixed by the Treasury.

Mr. Loftus Hare, Editor of Town and Country Planning, summarises the legal position of Letchworth and Welwyn in the following paragraphs:

Before dismissing altogether the legal aspect of garden cities, I must refer to the very interesting fact that the town plans of Letchworth and Welwyn Garden Cities, made in 1904 and 1920, respectively, were non-statutory. The first was made before the Act of 1909, and the second after the Act of 1919. The Acts could not apply compulsorily to the rural districts in which the two garden cities were to be sited; the land was most unlikely to be used for building purposes the eyes of the two companies were focussed upon it. When, therefore, the two plans were made, they were of the nature of private estate development.

Nevertheless, regarded as "town-planning schemes" - which they really were in every sense - they could have come under the Acts if the local authorities concerned and the owners together had seen fit to have it so. Section 54 (2) of the 1909 Act gave power to the Local Government Board "to authorise a local authority to adopt . . . . . any such scheme proposed by all or any of the owners of any land with respect to which the local authority might themselves have been authorised to prepare a scheme." Here were owners of 3,800 acres in Hitchin R.D.C., for which they had made a "scheme" more ambitious than any in living memory hitherto. The local authority did not move, the Local Government Board remained immobile, and the owners went forward.

The power to adopt an owner's scheme was continued in Section 42 (2) (b) of the Act of 1919, but was not applied to Letchworth, nor to Welwyn. Section 2 (1) (b) of the 1925 Act repeats the power; but the companies are still independent of the Acts. The words appear again in Section 6 (1) (b) of the 1932 Act, which represents the highwater of legislative achievement so far.

The legal position of the two Garden City Companies under the 1932 Act appears to be as follows: The built and the unbuilt portions of the two estates were already planned; the outlying area of the Urban District Council had not been planned. The Urban District Council could pass a resolution deciding to adopt the scheme of the planned portion, and to prepare a scheme for the unplanned portion; while the Minister would not approve this resolution until a public inquiry has been held, at which the views of the companies would be heard.

Meanwhile, it is understood, the Letchworth Urban District Council has agreed not to make use of the powers under the Act so long as the First Garden City Company continues to manage the Estate and to act as the planning authority.

Legal definition could hardly show more clearly than this the influence of Mr. Howard's great experiment. The obvious intention is to open a constitutional door for the entrance of other Ebenezer Howards. It is for the new Britain now coming to maturity to supply the new Ebenezer Howards.




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Chapter XVII

The author begins:

Good ideas are contagious if they come when they are wanted. The Garden City Association having given birth to Letchworth soon realised that it had other work to do. Enquiries from all parts of England, Scotland, and Wales came pouring in which indicated that other towns and associations wanted to share in the good idea. The Garden City Association became the Garden Cities and Town Planning Association with a national function as an advisory and propagandist body. When faith or money failed to rise to the full Garden City ideal, Garden Suburbs began to spring up - dormitories and nurseries on the outskirts of growing towns. Where a suburb was out of reach, Garden Villages became popular. Sir Ebenezer Howard was idealist enough to recognise that each of these had a place and a different place in the movement he had set on foot. One star differeth from another star in glory. He drew up a clear definition of the difference between the three types of planned community in terms which deserve more general recognition than they have received.

A Garden City is a self-contained town, industrial, agricultural, residential, planned as a whole, and occupying land sufficient to provide garden-surrounded homes for at least thirty thousand persons, as well as a wide belt of open fields. It combines ad vantages of both town and country, and prepares the way for a national movement, stemming the tide of population now leaving the country-side and sweeping into overcrowded cities.

A Garden Suburb provides that the normal growth of existing cities shall be on healthy lines: such suburbs are most useful, though on the other hand they tend to drive the country yet further afield, and do not deal with the root evil, rural depopulation.

Garden villages such as Bournville and Port Sunlight are Garden Cities in miniature, but depend on some neighbouring city for water, light and drainage: they have not the valuable provision of a protective belt, and are usually the centre of one great industry only.

Suburbs, villages and cities became sadly mixed up in the popular mind, with results detrimental to the movement, and things became worse when speculative builders and companies began to use these names as attractions to estates which had no substantial claim to them. If imitation is the homage which vice pays to virtue it was a tribute to the Garden City movement that it had raised the standard of taste in building and house room all over the country; but also imitations dilute the standard of the genuine article. Few people realise that there are only two towns which in this respect can be said to start at "scratch."

Town Planning

Macfadyen now describes how the Garden City movement spread to other countries - Europe, America, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. He mentions that Thomas Adams, one-time Secretary of Letchworth Garden City, became town planning advisor to the Canadian government, and later director of the Greater New York Regional Survey. A town on garden city lines was built at Radburn, New Jersey. A. M. Bing, Chairman of the New York City Housing Corporation, had corresponded with Howard and visited Letchworth.

Howard's book was translated into many languages, and garden city associations were formed in many countries. Howard was president of the International Garden Cities and Town Planning Association. Macfadyen quotes at length from a speech Howard delivered in Cannes in about 1923 (not reproduced here).

Training the Eye for Town Planning

Under the Town and Country Planning Act of 1932, all land, whether urban or rural, developed or undeveloped, may be included in authorised plans. Previous Town Planning Acts were concerned only with land under development. If the new situation does liberate - as may be hoped - the planning spirit, it is all the more important to train the eye by acquaintance with what has been done well in other times and countries than our own - as well as with our own best standards. An exhibition intended to serve this purpose was prepared in July 1933 by the Head Master, S. Wilkinson, M.A., with the co-operation of H. Sandford, at the new Letchworth Grammar School and opened by F. Longswith Thompson, F.S.I., A.M.I.C.E., A.Minst.C.E., President of the Town Planning Institute. The catalogue illustrates several of the features of the Town Planning movement as described in this book - its antiquity, decadence, revival, and world-wide extension. Since successful Town Planning must always be a compound of history and intelligent anticipation, experience and vision, the catalogue is included here to suggest how the subject may be treated in this form. It is, of course, susceptible of varied and more elaborate treatment than is given in this catalogue.

[ Below I have reproduced the headings from the catalogue, but have listed the items only for the section on Letchworth.]

Catalogue of School Town Planning Exhibition

  Ancient Town Planning
  Roman and Saxon Planning in England
  Saxon and Mediæval Planning
  Renaissance Town Planning
  Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Planning
  Post War Privately Developed Towns
  Statutory Town Planning
  Town Improvement Schemes
  Town Planning Abroad

Great difficulty has been experienced in collecting material for this section, but through the kindness of the officials of the First Garden City Co., Mr. Westell, acting on behalf of the Museum, and the Editor of the Citizen, it will be possible to form an idea of the growth of Letchworth during the past thirty years.

  1 Map of estate before development.
  2 Three plans submitted to First Garden City Co., for original lay-out.
  3 First published plan of proposed lay-out.
  4 Series of maps showing development of estate.
  5 Series of maps showing development of roads - gives a clear idea of rate of development.
  6 Graphs showing growth of population and numbers of houses.
  7 Map showing regional development of Letchworth.
  8 Open spaces. Note how well planned they are for centres of population and for schools.
  9 Map showing schools - again conveniently placed for pupils.
  10 Aeroplane photograph "tied on" to corresponding area on map.
  11 Views of Letchworth roads, ways and buildings.
  11A Factories. Interior and exterior views.
  12 Views of York showing busy shopping area and attempts at street widening.
  13 Views of Baldock.
  14 A few scenes from days gone by.
  15 Selection of views from the Museum collection. (A complete record of happenings in Letchworth is filed at the Museum and is open to inspection by the public.)
  16 Model of village.
     (a) An agricultural hamlet.
     (b) Hamlet developed on haphazard lines.
     (c) Hamlet developed on planned lines.
  17 Speed's Map of Hertfordshire and Atlas Map of N. E. Herts, 1786.
  18 Map of Letchworth and District.
  19 Model of Hertfordshire (made in the School).
  20 Model of Letchworth (made in the School).
  21 Model of Mount Everest (true to scale) - if compared with Daily Tele graph photograph lent by W. H. Smith & Sons, it will be seen how closely models represent surface features.
  22 Welwyn Garden City Exhibit.
  23 Wythenshawe Estate.
  24 Photograph of Chairman of the First Garden City Co. Sir Ebenezer Howard dreamt of a Garden City, the Architects planned one, but successive Chairmen of the Company shaped the policy of those who made it possible for the dream to be realised.




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Chapter XVIII

Ebenezer Howard was made an O.B.E. in 1924 and a Knight in 1827. Macfadyen lists, and gives short quotes from, some of those who wrote to him congratulating him on his Knighthood. Minister of Health, Neville Chamberlain, spoke at the congratulatory dinner in Letchworth.




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Chapter XIX

In this chapter, the author tells of Howard's interest in Esperanto. He was president of the Letchworth Esperanto Society while living there and member of the Universal Esperanto Society. He addressed the International Congress which met in Cambridge in 1907, and again in Cracow in 1912.

Further anecdotes are given. Howard was a keen chess player. He jogged for exercise. Macfadyen reproduces some correspondence between Howard and Mr Simmonds of Letchworth regarding employment for Mr Simmonds's son Jack.




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Chapter XX

The remaining personal facts of Sir Ebenezer Howard's life are soon told. In 1908 he married Miss E. A. Hayward of Letchworth, who watched over his later years and survived him - the present Lady Howard, of Howard Cottage, Letchworth. The surviving children of his first marriage are: Cecil, of Messrs. Howard and Smeaton, who carries on the established tradition as reporter in the Law Courts which he inherited from his father; Edith, Mrs. Berry, who has contributed to these pages; Kathleen, Mrs. Rawlinson, who lives at Welwyn Garden City; and Margery, Mrs. Sidney Lloyd. He had reached the age of seventy-eight and was still in the harness created by his own good works. He had been occupying himself - perhaps too anxiously - with the accounts of the Welwyn Stores when he was taken ill. Presently it was reported that his illness was likely to be serious, and on May Day 1928 at 5, Guessens Road, Welwyn Garden City, he passed over.

A memorial stone was unveiled in Howard Park, Letchworth, beside the children's wading pool, with the inscription "Ebenezer Howard founded this town in 1903." Cecil Harmsworth spoke in tribute to him.




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Macfadyen quotes some paragraphs (not reproduced here) from Professor A. N. Whitehead's Adventures of Ideas (1933, Manchester University Press).



Selected photographs

Letchworth Garden City

Letchworth - the Spirella factory

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Estate office and bank, Letchworth

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Letchworth - children's paddling pool in Howard Park;
memorial stone on right

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Eastcheap, cinema and garage

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Letchworth - The Broadway

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S. and D. Freighters - output of a Letchworth factory

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Letchworth Hall Hotel and Golf Links

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New road in the making, Letchworth

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Lytton Avenue, Letchworth

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Two Letchworth factories

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Letchworth Lane - to the Golf Links

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Photograph from the air, showing Layout of Workers' Houses and Factories

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Welwyn Garden City

Welwyn - shops and offices, Howardsgate.

Howard Memorial in foregorund

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Welwyn Stores

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Welwyn - a residence court

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Welwyn Theatre: exterior

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Welwyn Theatre: interior

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Welwyn - tree-lined road, showing formal arrangement
of detached houses with gardens

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Welwyn - Woodhall Court and Peartree Court

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Welwyn - a new factory

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Private development, Wythenshawe

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Cottages of a Mansard type, Wythenshawe

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A block of flats, Wythenshawe

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