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Welwyn Garden City


Green-Belt Cities. The British Contribution

Author: F. J. Osborn

Published: 1946 by Faber and Faber Limited

Format: Hardback 8¾" by 5½" with 191 pages

In the Introduction, the author Frederic J. Osborn (later Sir Frederic) says that the book is concerned with "the size of towns and the disposition of towns in relation to the countryside". The author was one of the founders of Welwyn Garden City. Much of the discussion revolves around this town and also Letchworth, the first Garden City of Howard's creation. The text is illustrated by 35 black and white photographs of mostly domestic architecture, but also some of commercial and industrial buildings. The illustrations are reproduced below with captions as in the book.
 

 
CONTENTS
 
 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

INTRODUCTION

PART ONE
THE GARDEN CITY MOVEMENT
A REVALUATION

I. EBENEZER HOWARD AND THE GARDEN CITY IDEA

The Problem of Urban Aggregation
A New Conception of the Town
The 'Unique Combination of Proposals'

II. THE BATTLE OF MODERN PLANNING THOUGHT

The Idea Submerged
The Period of Confusion
The New 'Symbiosis'

PART TWO
THE WORKING MODELS EXAMINED

III. THE PHYSICAL PATTERN

Choice and Purchase of Sites
The Garden City Companies
First Stages: Survey and Plan
Engineering Considerations
Landscape Gardening and Tree Planting
Agricultural Considerations
Evolution of the Town Plan

IV. THE LAND: ITS USE AND CONTROL

Planning through Lease-Covenants
Industrial Development
Retail Trade and Shopping Policy
Public Buildings, Schools and Open Spaces
Residential Areas: Layout and Densities

V. ADMINISTRATION, LOCAL GOVERNMENT AND FINANCE

Administration: Control of Use and Appearance
Local Government
Garden City Finance: Housing Subsidies

VI. SOCIAL LIFE AND CULTURE

PART THREE
GREEN-BELT CITIES: THE FUTURE

VII. A NATIONAL POLICY OF DISPERSAL

The Meaning of Dispersal
Scale and Pace of Dispersal

VIII. WAYS AND MEANS OF DISPERSAL

The Siting of New Towns
Promotion and Finance of New Towns
Getting the New Communities Going
Expansion of Existing Country Towns
Local Government and its Boundaries
The Technique of Town Development

APPENDICES

I. THE GREEN-BELT PRINCIPLE: A NOTE ON ITS HISTORICAL ORIGINS

II. A NOTE ON TERMINOLOGY

III. EARLIEST PUBLIC STATEMENTS OF THE TWO GARDEN CITY COMPANIES

SELECT BOOK LIST

INDEX

 
 

 

 
 

I.   LETCHWORTH:   HOUSING SCHEMES

In cottage design stringent economy was reconciled with planning for internal convenience, sunlight incidence, and external harmony. The standards thus evolved had world-wide influence.
 

 
 
  One of the first groups; built 1904  
   
  Architects, Barry Parker & Raymond Unwin  
 
  Low-rented houses built for local authority; 1915  
   
  Photo, Clutterbuck  
 
  Low-rented houses for Letchworth U.D.C., 1920  
   
  Architects, Bennett & Bidwell. Photo, Clutterbuck  
 

 

 
 

II.   LETCHWORTH:   PUBLIC AND BUSINESS BUILDINGS

The earlier public buildings had the informality of domestic architecture. Later civic and domestic buildings were more formal, but much variety of architectural style was permitted.
 

 
 
  Mrs. Howard Memorial Hall and Girls' Club; 1905  
   
  Architects, Barry Parker & Raymond Unwin. Photo, Clutterbuck  
 
  Leys Avenue, a main shopping street  
   
  Various architects. Photo, Studio Lisa  
 
  The Estate Office, Broadway; 1913  
   
  Architects, Barry Parker & Raymond Unwin. Photo, MacKellar  
 

 

 
 

III.   LETCHWORTH:   FACTORIES

Factory buildings are of great diversity of design and construction. Most were built to the requirements of particular firms. A few were built on adaptable designs for letting in sections as required.
 

 
 
  The Spirella Factory: a three-storey building for a light industry, surrounded by gardens; built 1912-9  
   
  Architect, C. H. Hignett. Photo, Clutterbuck  
 
  Parachute factory (Irving Air Chute Company); 1934  
   
  Architect, C. H. Hignett. Photo, Clutterbuck  
 
 
Factories for municipal service vehicles (Shelvoke and Drewry) and Hollerith tabulators (British Tabulating Machine Company); 1920
 
   
  Architect for office blocks, C. H. Hignett. Photo, Donald. Brunt  
 

 

 
 

IV.   WELWYN:   HOUSING SCHEMES

The prevailing architectural style derives from the Georgian tradition, with which modern influences are fused. As at Letchworth, severe economy was a basic factor. Simple, convenient designs are treated with infinite variety in layout and skilful planting. The three examples shown are schemes by housing societies. Many schemes have also been built by the local authority.
 

 
 
  A close having open front garden layouts; 1926  
   
  Architects, Louis de Soissons and A. W. Kenyon. Photos, J. P. Steele  
 
  A square having open front garden layouts; 1928  
   
  Architects, Louis de Soissons and A. W. Kenyon. Photos, J. P. Steele  
 
 
Houses with enclosed front gardens; layout influenced by existing trees; 1926. All houses have private back gardens
 
   
  Architects, Louis de Soissons and A. W. Kenyon. Photos, J. P. Steele  
 

 

 
 

V.   WELWYN:   THE HOUSE AND GARDEN

A fundamental merit of low-density housing, as against multi-storey dwellings, is direct access from ground-floor living space to gardens at front and back, as illustrated by these typical scenes at Welwyn.
 

 
 
  A family living-room with window-door to back garden  
   
  Photo, Studio Lisa  
 
  Front gardens in a square  
   
  Photo, Studio Lisa  
 
  Front gardens in a through street  
   
  Photo, Studio Lisa  
 

 

 
 

VI.   WELWYN:   GROUPING AND INDIVIDUALITY

The individual design of houses is not necessarily incompatible with harmonious street pictures, if enough care and skill is given to architecture, layout and planting. Three of many solutions of this problem at Welwyn.
 

 
 
  Detached and semi-detached houses of differing size and design, Guessens Road  
   
  Photo, J. P. Steele  
 
  Detached houses, Parkway, successfully atttaining pleasing street or terrace effect  
   
  Photo, Studio Lisa  
 
 
Houses designed separately for individual owners, harmonized by use of similar materials and style in woodland setting
 
   
  Photo, Studio Lisa  
 

 

 
 

VII.   WELWYN:   COMMERCIAL BUILDINGS

The main Civic and Business Centre at Welwyn observes a consistent architectural style, with much variety in treatment of façades, openings, shop fronts and the smaller details.
 

 
 
  Howardsgate, south side: Midland Bank, private shops, and Co-operative Society's stores, with offices over; 1922-34  
   
  Architects, Louis de Soissons and A. W. Kenyon. Photo, Studio Lisa  
 
  North aspect of Welwyn Stores, facing the Campus, with showrooms, offices and residential flats above; 1939  
   
  Architect, Louis de Soissons. Photo, Studio Lisa  
 
  Howardsgate, north side: Post Office and Barclays Bank; about 1930  
   
  Architects: H.M. Office of Works; and Louis de Soissons and A. W. Kenyon. Photo, Studio Lisa  
 

 

 
 

VIII.   WELWYN:   SOME OTHER BUILDINGS

The Cherry Tree Restaurant (licensed premises with dance and assembly rooms and tea-gardens), the Railway Station, and the first Council School.
 

 
 
  Cherry Tree Restaurant; 1933  
   
  Architect, R. G. Muir. Photo, Studio Lisa  
 
  Railway Station; 1926  
   
  Architect for plan, L.N.E.R. Architects' Department; for elevation, Louis de Soissons. Photo, Studio Lisa  
 
  First Elementary School for Herts County Council; 1922-6  
   
  Architects, Louis de Soissons and A. W. Kenyon. Photo, Studio Lisa  
 

 

 
 

IX.   WELWYN:   FACTORIES

The Welwyn industrial buildings exhibit a wide variety of design and construction. Besides many factories built by firms for particular processes, Welwyn has paid much attention to sectional factories for letting on rental.
 

 
 
  The Norton Factory, producing grinding wheels and abrasives; kilns right, offices left; 1930  
   
  Architects, Frost, Chamberlain and Edwards, U.S.A. Photo, Studio Lisa  
 
  Factory of sectional type; one-storey at rear, two-storey offices in front; 1932  
   
  Architects, Louis de Soissons and A. W. Kenyon. Photo, Studio Lisa  
 
  Two-storey factory, steel frame with concrete walling, originally designed for sectional occupation  
   
  Architect, A. W. Kenyon. Photo, Studio Lisa  
 

 

 
 

X.   WELWYN:   FACTORIES

One of the most recent industrial buildings in Welwyn is the Roche Products factory; 1939. The illustrations show the administrative building and laboratories, and the interior of one of the vitamin-synthesizing plants.
 

 
 
  Administrative building and research laboratories  
   
  Architect, J. Salvisberg. Photo, Studio Lisa  
 
    A vitamin-synthesizing plant    
       
    Architect, J. Salvisberg. Photo, Fox Photos      
 

 

 
 

XI.   STREET PLANTING

In both Garden Cities great care has been given to the choice and arrangement of flowering and ornamental trees, shrubs, hedges, and grass verges. Of innumerable different treatments, three are illustrated. In other streets, beds of roses and other flowers have been successfully maintained.
 

 
 
  Icknield Way, Letchworth — one of the earliest roads, on the line of an ancient British highway; almonds in flower  
   
  Photo, Clutterbuck  
 
 
Parkway, Welwyn: central gardens with double avenues of pleached limes, broken by groups of whitebeams, interspersed with formal beds of roses and Dutch lavender
 
   
  Photo, Studio Lisa  
 
  Norton Way, Letchworth: chestnuts in flower  
   
  Photo, Donald Brunt  
 

 

 
 

XII.   SOME INDIVIDUAL HOUSES

While in both towns designs are subject to approval by the City Architects, many architects design houses for individual clients, and the range of inspiration is wide. Three illustrations can give only a faint indication of the characteristic styles.
 

 
 
 
A pair of houses built at Letchworth about 1905 for their own occupation by Raymond Unwin (left) and Barry Parker (right)
 
   
     
 
  (2) An early Welwyn house showing the Georgian influence; 1923  
   
  Architect, Louis de Soissons  
 
  (3) A somewhat later Welwyn house; 1925  
   
  Architects, C. H. James and C. Murray Hennell