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Welwyn Garden City


Modern Housing Estates

A Practical Guide to their Planning, Design and Development

Author: Stanley Gale, A.M.Inst.M.E., M.R.S.I.

First published: 1949 by B. T. Batsford Ltd.

Format: Hardback 9¾" by 6¾" with 277 pages


Dust jacket inner front flap

This book provides a comprehensive survey of all matters, both technical and legal, affecting the planning and construction of housing estates, the creation of neighbourhood units and the development of satellite towns on garden city principles. The author, a civil engineer and surveyor by profession, is an expert of many years' standing on the subject. His book is addressed principally to Housing Committees and their Officers, as well as to Architects, Surveyors and Town Planners. It is hoped that it will also be found useful to students preparing for the professional examinations relating to Town Planning. The very numerous illustrations include drawings, plans, photographs and folding plates prepared by leading Local Authorities and Architects.








The greatest public need at the present time is the adequate provision of houses for the vast number of people in this country desiring to have homes of their own.

With the passing of the Town and Country Planning Act, 1947, the way became clearer for proceeding apace with the herculean task of constructing housing estates both by Local Authorities and private enterprise.

Much has been written, spoken and discussed upon future building schemes and countless reports, memoranda, orders and circulars have been published, but these are apt to bewilder those responsible for carrying out such schemes.

The difficult questions of land acquisition, compensation and betterment have been the cause of much controversy in recent years, and have resulted in the Government providing improved legislative measures to alleviate such difiiculties in dealing with the great housing problem.

This book is intended to give the reader a clear and concise outline of all matters affecting the planning and construction of housing estates, the creation of neighbourhood units and the development of satellite towns on garden city principles.

It is hoped that the work will prove of service to Housing Committees and their Officers; Architects, Surveyors and Town Planners and other professionals interested in estate development, as well as to students preparing for the various professional examinations which relate to town planning, civil engineering, and surveying.

As far as possible as many practical diagrams, plans, and photographs have been given to illustrate the numerous schemes dealt with in the text.

Acknowledgements are due to the kindness of the promoters of various Garden City Estates, and to various important Local Authorities for allowing the publication of notes, plans and photographs of their respective estates, also to the Controller of His Majesty's Stationery Office for permission to publish extracts from numerous Government Acts, Reports, Circulars and Memoranda; to the Institution of Municipal Engineers for extracts from their journals and Reports, and to the Proprietors and Editors of "Architectural Design and Construction". To my publishers, and especially their Director, Mr. W. Hanneford Smith, Hon. A.R.I.B.A., I am greatly indebted for their collaboration in the preparation of the book; also to Mr. Francis Lucarotti, their Production Manager, for his care and skill in the presentation of the volume. The coloured frontispiece, and dust Wrapper, also Plates XV and XVI, illustrating the Inch Nether Liberton Housing and Community Development Scheme, Edinburgh, are reproduced by the kind permission of Messrs. Stratton Davis and Yates, FF.R.I.B.A., the architects responsible for the scheme.

September 1948




The book is quite technical in places. For example, the chapter on the design and construction of sewers has formulae and tables for calculating flow rates. There are 168 illustrations, some of which are plans or line drawings, but 80 of which are black and white photographs, mostly of street scenes, but some of partly constructed houses. 7 of the photographs are of streets in Welwyn Garden City. There are also 19 pull-out plates, on very thin paper, which are mostly plans of housing estates.

Chapter 1 - The Choice and Design of Estates.

In this chapter, the author discusses siting, contouring, types of street layout, building densities, and shopping centres. The one b/w photograph in this chapter is of Walden Place, WGC.

Chapter 2 - Design and Construction of Roads.

The layout, gradients, surfaces, lighting and drainage, of roads, are discussed. Gale then summarises the Ministry of Transport's Memorandum No. 575 on Layout and Construction of Roads which gives recommendations on layout, widths, curves, super-elevation, visibility, traffic lanes, and junctions. Three plans of road junctions illustrate. He then goes on to summarise another report, 1945 Model Specifications, jointly issued by The Institute of Municipal Engineers and the Ministries of Health and Works. This report covers the three types of road surface: Tarmacadam, Asphalt/Bitumen, Concrete.

Chapter 3 - Design and Construction of Sewers.

This chapter goes into the technical details of calculating the size of drains necessary in certain situations.

Chapter 4 - Submission of Plans of New Streets and Layouts.

This chapter covers town planning appeals, deposit of plans, building by-laws, the Restriction of Ribbon Development Act (1935), Public Health Act (1936), Town and Country Planning Acts (1943 and 1944), and the submission of plans. The discussion is quite brief.

Chapter 5 - Private Street Works Procedure.

This is a second chapter on legal matters. It covers the process of the adopting of a road which was originally in private hands during the construction of an estate, and the various acts involved. As with the previous chapter, the discussion is quite brief.

Chapter 6 - Types of Houses and Practical Aspects of design.

Gale summarises the 1918 Report on the types of houses and accommodation required by the working classes, which was produced under chairmanship of Sir J. Tudor-Waters. Two of the recommendations were that each house should have a parlour and also a separate bathroom. Standards laid down by the Housing Acts (1935 and 1936) are described. The chapter continues with discussion of prefabricated houses and flats, and covers the Second House Construction Report (1946), and the Housing Manual (1944). There are numerous plans and other illustrations in the chapter, and also several photographs of partially-built houses to illustrate different methods of construction.

Chapter 7 - Further House Designs in Rural and Urban Districts.

This chapter summarises several reports, and is illustrated with many plans of house layouts. The Reports covered include: Manual on Rural Housing (1938), Scottish Housing Advisory Committee Report (1944), Rural Housing Report (1944).

Chapter 8 - Finance and Administration of Estates.

Methods of building finance; Housing Acts (1923, 1924, 1935, 1936, 1938, 1946); Town and Country Planning Act (1947); these are discussed briefly.

Chapter 9 - Legal Regulations Affecting Estate Development.

Thirteen pages of this chapter are taken up with quite a detailed description of The Town and Country Planning Act (1947). Other housing acts are discussed more briefly as are the Barlow Report, the Burt Report, and the Dudley Report. The rest of the chapter deals with satellite town schemes, of which Knutsford, Manchester is used as an example. There are 4 photographs of architectural models of proposed development at Knutsford, and a pull-out diagram of the scheme for the County College there.

Chapter 10 - Garden City and Private Development Enterprises.

This is the longest chapter (80 pages) and contains most of the photographs. In the text, Gale describes how the "Garden City Pioneer Company" was registered in 1902. This company chose a Letchworth site of 4562 acres for the first development, to be followed by the one at Welwyn. Some industrial concerns provided model housing estates for their workers; notably Port Sunlight (Leverhulme), Bournville (Cadbury), and Earswick (Rowntree). The co-partnership schemes at Ealing Garden Suburb and Hampstead Garden Suburb are mentioned. Then 16 schemes, listed below, are described in turn. For each of these estates there is a plan, and for some there are photographs of the housing.

Letchworth Garden City
Welwyn Garden City
Port Sunlight, Wirral
Bournville Village Trust
Hampstead Garden Suburb
L.C.C. Becontree estate
Sheldon Estates, Birmingham
Weoley Castle Estate, Birmingham
Speke, Liverpool
Penilee Housing Estate, Glasgow
Pollock Estate, Glasgow
Wythenshawe Estate, Manchester
Braunstone Estate, Leicester
Wollaton Park Estate, Nottingham
City of Edinburgh Housing Development
Merville Estate, Belfast.

There is only one page of text about Welwyn Garden City, 7 photographs, and a street plan of the town. The plan is considerably reduced in size and difficult to read without a magnifying glass. I have not reproduced it here, but it is very similar to, but not quite so up-to-date as, the one which had already appeared in the 1948 handbook. That plan can be viewed here.



Welwyn Garden City
Walden Place Example of a cul-de-sac
Photo: Studio Lisa
The Parkway  
Louis de Soissons, A.R.A., Architect Photo: Studio Lisa
The Community Centre  
Louis de Soissons, A.R.A., Architect Photo: Studio Lisa
Fretherne Road  
Louis de Soissons, A.R.A., Architect Photo: Studio Lisa
Parkway Close  
Louis de Soissons, A.R.A., Architect Photo: Studio Lisa
The Orchard  
Louis de Soissons, A.R.A., Architect Photo: Studio Lisa
Corner of Digswell Road and Walden Road  
Louis de Soissons, A.R.A., Architect Photo: Studio Lisa