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Welwyn Garden City

The Building of Satellite Towns (second edition)

A Contribution to the Study of Town Development and Regional Planning

Author: C. B. Purdom

Second edition published: 1949 by J. M. Dent & Sons Ltd.

Format: Hardback 10" by 7½" with 532 pages



This book is mainly about the founding and building of Letchworth Garden City and Welwyn Garden City. The building of the former was begun in 1904; the latter in 1920. The first edition of this book was published in 1925. A lot happened between 1925 and the publication of the second edition in 1949. Some parts of the book have been completely rewritten - others have only revised wording. The new edition is longer - 532 pages compared to 368. I am concentrating here on the parts which are very different or are completely new.

I have previously prepared notes on the first edition (1925) of this book. (Click here for my notes on the 1925 first edition.)

In the notes below on the 1949 second edition, I have included links to corresponding chapters in my notes on the first edition. These links are labelled below (1925 link). I am not repeating here the information I put there. In case readers want to flip back and forward between the two sets of notes, I have set the background colour of my 1925 notes to orange in contrast to the current (1949) page in blue, to avoid confusion as to which set of notes you are looking at.

The (1949) book is illustrated by maps, plans and diagrams, and 103 black and white photographs of high quality, arranged three or four on a page, 44 from Letchworth and 59 from Welwyn Garden City, the subjects being mostly buildings and street scenes.



(L) = Letchworth    (W) = Welwyn Garden City   Purdom's own words are in red italic.
Preface (click here)  
Foreword, by Sir Theodore Chambers, K.B.E. (click here)  
PART I - Introductory
Chapter I
Chapter II
The Growth, Overgrowth, and Regeneration of Cities
What is a Satellite Town ?
(click here)
(click here)
(1925 link)
(1925 link)
PART II - Letchworth, The First Garden City
Chapter I
Chapter II
Chapter III
Chapter IV
Chapter V
Chapter VI
Chapter VII
Chapter VIII
Its Establishment and Growth (L)
Its Town-Plan (L)
Its Shops (L)
Its Industries (L)
Its Public Services (L)
Its Agriculture (L)
Its Finance (L)
Conclusion (L)
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(1925 link)
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PART III - Welwyn Garden City, The First Satellite Town
Chapter I
Chapter II
Chapter III
Chapter IV
Chapter V
Chapter VI
Chapter VII
Chapter VIII
Its Establishment and Growth (W)
Its Town-Plan (W)
Its Shops (W)
Its Industries (W)
Its Public Services (W)
Its Agriculture (W)
Its Finance (W)
Conclusion (W)
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(1925 link)
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PART IV - The Practical Problems of Building New Towns
Chapter I
Chapter II
Chapter III
Chapter IV
Chapter V
Chapter VI
Chapter VII
Chapter VIII
The Building of New Towns as National Policy (W)
Their Siting and Organization (W)
Their Planning (W)
Their Transport and Industry (W)
Their Agricultural Belts (W)
Their Local Government (W)
Their Finance (W)
Conclusion (W)
(click here)
Acknowledgements and Notes (click here)  
The New Towns Act, 1946    
Extracts from the Town and Country Planning Act, 1947    
List of Maps and Diagrams in the Text (click here) (1925 link)
List of Plates (click here) (1925 link)



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From the Preface:

The first edition of this book was published in May 1925, and on the day of its publication the Manchester Guardian devoted a leading article to it in the course of which the following words occurred:

It is possible that some twenty years hence we may date the beginning of a new grouping of our population from the appearance of this book.

On 8th May 1946 the Minister of Town and Country Planning introduced the New Towns Bill into the House of Commons, which became law on the following 1st August. The prophecy of the newspaper writer was thus fulfilled, for the object of the book, as set out in the original preface, was to discuss 'the idea of building new towns in the form of satellite towns around the large cities, as an alternative to the continuous growth of the cities over ever wider areas.'

The new legislation is intended to provide for the building of new towns and to enable industry and population to be established in them, so as to carry out the policy of decentralization, which has become national policy. In that sense, therefore, the object with which the book was written has been satisfied, but there is a demand for the book, because of the information contained in it, though it has been long out of print, and, in view of the fact that much additional experience has been gained since it was first written, a new and up-to-date edition was called for . . . . .

When preparing the book in its original form the writer was connected with Welwyn Garden City, having been jointly responsible for the foundation of the town, and he was acting at that time as finance director. For a good many years, however, he has had no official connection with the undertaking, so that he now writes with a freedom that was not possible when preparing the first edition with, he hopes, some advantage to the interest and value of the work . . . . .




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The Foreword was written by Sir Theodore Chambers, K.B.E., Chairman of Welwyn garden City Ltd. The town owes a great deal to Sir Theodore and the passages below from the Foreword give an interesting glimpse of his own views:

Mr Purdom has the advantage of having taken an active part in the initial phases of the two garden cities, Letchworth and Welwyn. He therefore writes not simply as an historian or observer dealing with his subject from outside, but as one who has knowledge derived from personal experience. As a result the book has a value that no other studies of the two garden cities are ever likely to possess.

The immediate importance of the subject lies in the fact that the principles of the 'garden city' have recently been adopted as a national policy. Any one who wants to know what those principles are should read this book and examine the story of the two existing garden cities.

The publication of this new edition is very opportune, for the building of new towns now projected on a large scale raises political, sociological, technical, and, not least, financial problems that have been explored and examined and in some respects solved, though by no means entirely, in the pioneering experiments of Letchworth and Welwyn. The problems which will be encountered are examined and the author informs us how two separate groups of people dealt with them.

Furthermore, during the current year, an important phase of the garden city movement has closed dramatically; closed, I confess, in a manner that gives me much misgiving. Private enterprise can no longer play any part as an entrepreneur. Future garden cities, or 'new towns,' as they are to be called, will be conceived by the Ministry of Town and Country Planning and will be State managed and State controlled.

Until I became chairman of Welwyn Garden City in 1919 I had not previously come in contact with the garden city movement, but in 1917 I had read a paper at the Surveyors' Institution advocating the decentralization of population and the industrial penetration of the rural districts as a partial remedy of the evils of intensive urbanization with its concomitants of slum areas and overcrowding, and I pointed out the disadvantages to the community as a whole of the divorce between urban and rural economies. A close study of the subject of land values in connection with the land taxes of the 'People's Budget' and some twenty years' experience as a surveyor in London had convinced me that one of the most fruitful experiments for the nation would be the development of a new industrial town on a selected area of freehold land, unencumbered with vested interests or previous development, where from the start building could be done on ideal lines, architectural harmony being maintained throughout and the land values being brought into being and conserved as the fundamental economic basis of the undertaking. Of course, there was Letchworth already in being, but a new experiment under the conditions of the post-war world and with more regard to the creation and conservation of land values than Letchworth had had seemed to me to be demanded.

When, therefore, the late Norman Savill suggested to me that I might be interested to meet Ebenezer Howard to hear about the projected garden city at Welwyn I was pleased to do so. I liked Howard, and when I afterwards met the writer of this book with Mr Walter H. Layton (now Lord Layton) and Colonel Fremantle, M.P. (afterwards Sir Francis), I was prepared to accept their invitation to become chairman of the board to carry out the scheme. I worked with Howard from that time until his death in 1928 in complete agreement upon all matters of fundamental principle.

When Welwyn Garden City was put in hand at the close of the first world war, it was regarded by most practical men as a hopelessly wild venture. It was thought incapable of achievement to build a new industrial town of 40,000 or 50,000 population in an isolated area without any pre-existing development. The first five years of the company's history was, indeed, a period of great anxiety; but for the moral support of Sir Charles Longmore, then clerk to the Herts County Council, and the encouragement of Reginald McKenna, then chairman of the Midland Bank, I do not believe we could have seen our way through the almost insuperable difficulties we encountered.

Those difficulties were partly inherent in the nature of the undertaking, which was a highly complex operation not unlike that of a colonizing expedition, and partly due to the scepticism, almost amounting to hostility, on the part of interests whose co-operation was essential. However, in those five years the foundations were laid, and, as was afterwards proved, securely laid.

To no one does the undertaking owe more than to Mr Purdom himself, who, during those early days, rendered the highest service, thoroughly comprehending and tenaciously maintaining fundamental principles . . . . .

The unfortunate decision to take the completion of the town out of the hands of the Welwyn Garden City Company ignores its history and achievements and is difficult to understand except on the narrowest ideological grounds. In my opinion it is without any justification. The complex organization, built up during the experience of a quarter of a century, which was capable of completing the town within a few years according to the original scheme, and upon which the Government's own policy is admittedly based, is to be disintegrated and scrapped in favour of bureaucratic control under Treasury supervision. The Minister of Town and Country Planning would listen to no argument. No impartial tribunal existed to whom an appeal could be made. There was apparently no legal power to interfere with his arbitrary decision. The company is to be replaced by a State corporation that will start without any corporate experience and will be directed by a department in Whitehall . . . . .




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Part I - Introductory

Chapter I. The Growth, Overgrowth, and Regeneration of Cities

This chapter reworks material from chapters I, II and III of the 1925 book which were I - The Expansion of Towns and Cities, (1925 link), II - The Regional Point of View, (1925 link), III - What is Meant by Satellite Towns, (1925 link). The additional notes below are complementary to those notes.

Purdom discussing city overcrowding refers to the book Can our Cities Survive (José Luis Sert, 1942). The conclusion in that book is that:

. . . . . cities cannot survive unless they are made to serve their functional ends by a new architecture, in which is recognized that our cities are 'not streets and buildings merely, not aggregations of people merely, but equally the heart and content of society.' In other words, the real problem of the city is not technical but human . . . . .

Some of our cities have been partially destroyed and have to be rebuilt, and those that have been untouched are none the less in need of rebuilding. There are many new plans, of which the most notable is the Abercrombie-Forshaw County of London Plan (1943), a work that is striking for the questions that it raises or causes to be raised. What is the city? What are the principles to be observed in its building ? How is the chaos of the city to be subjected to order.

Purdom continues with a discussion of the best size for a city quoting various authors. He describes the Lineal City projected by Don Arturo Soria y Mata in 1882 and partly carried out in Madrid in 1922. He also discusses Tony Garnier's Industrial City proposed in 1910. He continues with the proposals of the Swiss architect Charles Édouard Jeanneret (known as Le Corbusier) in his books Urbanisme (English version The City of To-morrow, 1929) and later Propos d'Urbanisme (English version Concerning Town-planning, 1947).

Purdom concludes:

We need a basic plan of city growth, which prevents overgrowth and overcrowding, and provides for change. This is not a matter of redesigning the centres of cities and building one new town here and another there where sites can be found, but the working out of a design for city and region in which the parts are related. In the reconstructed cities and in the new towns, the neighbourhood units for living, the working areas, the trading districts, and the amplitude of buildings for social uses on the scale demanded by a self-respecting people ought to be conceived of as a unity. A step would be taken towards this were, for instance, the County of London Plan, the Greater London Plan, and the new plans for the City of London to be put together to make a single plan. At present, of course, nothing of the kind is being attempted, and we are at the stage of having forced upon us haphazard schemes that do not deserve to be called by the name of design and that lack the first elements of art, as though the capacity for controlling our public affairs was absent. We cannot be satisfied with the present situation and should not allow it to continue.




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(Part I) Chapter II - What is a Satellite Town ?

This chapter covers some of the ground found in Chapter III of the 1925 book which was entitled III - What is Meant by Satellite Towns, (1925 link). The additional notes below are complementary to those notes. However, the material is completely rewritten. There is more on Howard's life and the events following the publication of his book. Discussion of other planning schemes in Europe and America has either been left out or was already included in chapter I.

The first few paragraphs of this (1949) chapter are a discussion on the terms 'garden city' and 'satellite town', with particular regard to how these terms have been misapplied to any estate development. The argument is expanded somewhat from the single paragraph in the 1925 edition.

When he introduced his New Towns Bill in the House of Commons on 8th May 1946, the Minister of Town and Country Planning (Mr. L. Silkin) said:

The House will observe that it is not called a 'Satellite Towns Bill,' or a 'Garden Cities Bill,' and for reasons which I will give later I hope we may regard the terms 'satellite' or 'garden city' as applied to a town, henceforth, as having been interred decently.

Mr Purdom refutes Silkin's suggestion and says that the two terms are still alive and will be used interchangeably in this book.

By a satellite town is meant a town in the full sense of the word, a distinct civic unit with its own local government and corporate life, possessing the economic, social, and cultural characteristics of a town, and, while still maintaining its identity, in some sort of relation of dependence upon a large town or city. The term does not mean a village, because a village has not the functions of a town, neither does it mean a suburb or any form of community that is absorbed or in process of absorption into another community, and lacks its own local government, even though it may have a distinct name. The word 'satellite' is used in the sense of a body under the influence of a more powerful body but possessing its own identity.

There are several pages of biographical details of Howard's life which are not in the 1925 edition. Purdom begins this account thus:

Ebenezer was born on 29th January 1850, at 62 Fore Street in the city of London, the son of a baker and confectioner; he was a true Londoner by birth and habit of mind. According to his own story, he was sent away to boarding school, first to Cheshunt, afterwards to Ipswich, and started work in a City stockbroker's office at the age of fifteen. Howard then passed from one office job to another, in the course of which he learnt shorthand. Visiting the Poultry Chapel, of which the afterwards famous Joseph Parker of the City Temple was minister, young Howard took down one of his sermons and sent it to the preacher with the offer to do the same every Sunday. The outcome was that Parker engaged him as a private secretary, and, maybe, the preacher's later practice of printing his sermons weekly was influenced by Howard's enterprise. However, the engagement was not a success, for Howard stayed only three months, in the course of which Parker told him that he should have been a preacher, advice that was not far off the mark.

Purdom continues with a brief account of Howard's stay in America, where he saw the beginnings of Alexander T. Stewart's Garden City of Long Island, and his return to England where he worked as a short-hand writer in the Law Courts. He mentions Howard's ability as an inventor, his improvements to the Remington typewriter, and his long endeavour to perfect a shorthand typewriting machine.

Purdom continues with Howard's marriage, his joining the Zetetical Society (where he met James Leaky, Bernard Shaw and Sidney Webb), the influence of Thomas Davidson and the Fellowship of New Life organisation, and his reading of the books Progress and Poverty (Henry George) and Looking Backward (Edward Bellamy).

Purdom moves on to the publication of Howard's To-morrow: a Peaceful Path to Real Reform in 1898, and the formation of the Garden City Association in 1899, the object of which was to promote a practical scheme based on Howard's garden city principles. After two years, despite much enthusiasm, little money had been raised.

Then Howard discovered that a leading Chancery lawyer, Ralph Neville, K.C., who was also a Liberal politician and a land nationalizer, was interested in his scheme, so he succeeded in getting Neville to become chairman, and soon after a full-time secretary was engaged in the person of a young Liberal political agent named Thomas Adams. These two men put the association on its feet, and brought the scheme into the sphere of practical politics. Neville had a strong personality with much driving force, and he was at the same time a charming and intelligent man; his large practice at the Chancery Bar had given him an established position. Adams was an ambitious Scot, hardworking, resourceful, and with a sound sense of the value of propaganda and how to organize it.

The Bourneville and Port Sunlight conferences were a great success, and in 1902 the Garden City Pioneer Company was formed. Purdom now continues with a résumé of the ideas in Howard's book.

Let us now examine Howard's scheme for a garden city as he put it forward. The original edition of To-morrow: a Peaceful Path to Real Reform was published in 1898 by Swan Sonnenschein & Co. Ltd., in red cloth at 2s. 6d.. It contained 176 pages and 7 diagrams in colour. In 1902 a second edition (titled Garden Cities of To-morrow) was issued by the same publishers in green paper covers, with a design by Walter Crane, at one shilling. This second edition differed slightly from the first. A short chapter entitled 'Administration - A Bird's Eye View' was omitted, together with four of the diagrams, also an appendix on water supply. Howard was frequently subjected to much criticism on the details of his scheme, and these omissions were the result. He was prepared to abandon whatever was not essential: what he left out did not affect the main project, and the rest of the book was reprinted as originally written. Howard had the wisdom never to dispute with any one upon any aspect of his scheme upon which there was disagreement, but sought to concentrate upon the points of agreement.

Howard deplored the continued streaming of people into overcrowded cities. He gives the analogy of the three magnets (Town, Country and Town-Country) with the famous diagram which Purdom reproduces.

He proposed, therefore, that an estate of 6,000 acres of agricultural land should be bought in the open market at a cost of £40 an acre, or £240,000, which was the average price of agricultural land in 1898. The purchase price was to be raised on mortgage debentures bearing interest at a rate not exceeding 4 per cent. The estate was to be held by four trustees, first as security for the debenture holders, and secondly 'in trust for the people of Garden City.' This was the first time (on page 21 of his book) he had used the name, and he did so without explanation. He defined immediately the foundation principle of the scheme:

. . . . all ground rents, which are to be based upon the annual value of the land, shall be paid to the trustees, who, after providing for interest and sinking fund, will hand the balance to the Central Council of the new municipality, to be employed by such council in the creation and maintenance of all necessary public works - roads, schools, parks, etc.

He was quite definite as to what he had in mind:

a healthy natural and economic combination of town and country life, and this on land owned by the municipality.

Purdom continues with his résumé, in more detail than in the 1925 edition. He includes three more of Howard's diagrams, the third of which illustrates Howard's idea that garden cities would be formed in clusters with wide belts of open land between. Purdom discusses the influence on Howard of earlier writers - James Silk Buckingham, Robert Owen, Edward Gibbon Wakefield, John Stuart Mill, Thomas Spence, Herbert Spencer and Alfred Marshall.

The initial steps in the founding of these towns was taken by Howard himself. He was associated with others, it is true, and did not work alone, but his was the initiative and his the driving force. Neither town would have been built without him. Yet he was no organizer, and was not in the ordinary sense of the word a practical man, so that apart from providing the original impetus he had little or nothing to do with the building of either town. He was a member of the board of directors of both companies, attended their meetings regularly, and was listened to on all subjects, but he did not pretend to abilities that he did not possess. He lived at Letchworth almost from the start, and afterwards at Welwyn Garden .City, and was, of course, a familiar figure in both towns, and was highly honoured in both. But these towns, though owing their origin to him, are his work neither in their planning nor in the execution of the plans. He had in both of them the part of a spectator and commentator upon what was done, and except for a share in some minor enterprises, he made no major contributions. He was the 'father' of the movement. He was made an O.B.E. in 1924, a curious honour for such work as his, and knighted in 1927. Bernard Shaw said on the latter occasion that:

Sir Ebenezer should have had a barony for the book, an earldom for Letchworth, and a dukedom for Welwyn, and I am not going to congratulate him on such an inadequate acknowledgment of his great public service as a knighthood.

He died on 1st May 1928, and was buried at Letchworth. The first small park at Letchworth is known as Howard Park in his honour, and the main approach to the railway station at Welwyn Garden City is called Howardsgate after him, where, in the centre, there is also a plain brick memorial, bearing the words 'Ebenezer Howard founded this town.'

Purdom discusses how the garden city movement brought the idea of town-planning to public attention. He refers to Edwin Chadwick's Report on the Sanitary Condition of the Labouring Classes of Great Britain (1842), to Alfred Marshall's Principles of Economics (1890), and T. C. Horsfall's report The Example of Germany (1904).

Purdom continues with discussion of the confusion surrounding the term garden city and its misuse, for which he largely blames Raymond Unwin in this very interesting paragraph about Hampstead Garden Suburb:

Very soon, in 1907, there was a scheme for a 'garden suburb' initiated by the social reformers Canon and Mrs. Barnett upon 240 acres of land they had acquired adjoining Hampstead Heath with the object of building small houses and demonstrating the advantages of planning. This scheme coincided with the construction of the new electric railway to Golders Green, which almost adjoined the estate, and enabled a large area of land to be exploited on a hitherto unheard-of scale for residential development and to make many fortunes. The Barnetts were skilled in publicity, and the new scheme quickly took the foremost place as an example of town-planning and housing. Hampstead was easy to get at, and with the energetic activities of the co-partnership tenants, which found the estate admirably suited to them, the scheme occupied a large place in the public mind and obscured the real garden city that had been started at Letchworth, the story of which is told in the second part of this book. Letchworth was rather far away, and people went to Hampstead to see what Letchworth was like. In fact, the project was described as 'The second of the great schemes inaugurated on garden city lines.' The architect of the first garden city, Raymond Unwin, had ended his connection with Letchworth and went to live in an old house belonging to the suburb in which he continued to live for the rest of his life. This fact, and the further fact that support for the establishment of the garden suburb was taken up enthusiastically by the body responsible for the garden city, the Garden City Association, increased the confusion as to the respective characteristics of a 'garden city' and a 'garden suburb.' Indeed, the terms became interchangeable. Hampstead was often referred to as a garden city and Letchworth was frequently described as a garden suburb. Before long there was a 'garden suburb movement' which was described as the development of estates in suburban areas on 'garden city lines.'

In Raymond Unwin's Nothing Gained by Overcrowding (1912), he advocates twelve house to the acre which he calls 'the garden city type of development'. Purdom also quotes from Ewart G. Culpin's The Garden City Movement Up to Date (1914 edition) in which Culpin said the garden city name had been dishonestly appropriated.

Purdom continues with a discussion of town-planning legislation starting with John Burn's 1909 Act which enable local authorities to control land for new building development. The act was little used but following it the Garden City Association changed its name to the Garden Cities and Town Planning Association. The Town Planning Institute was formed in 1914 with a membership of architects, engineers, surveyors and lawyers. The 1919 Housing Act compelled local authorities to prepare town-planning schemes for their undeveloped areas. The 1932 Town and Country Planning Act was comprehensive and remained in forced until the 1947 Act changed the whole basis.

Purdom discusses Thomas Sharp's restatement of the garden city idea in his book Town Planning (1940). Purdom also quotes from a1936 article in the Evening Standard by Herbert Morrison:

Not only would I wish the solid urban sprawl of London to be checked, but I would like to see contiguous London cover a much smaller area than it does at present . . . . I would take the industries and businesses that need not be in the heart of London, bodily out of the heart of London . . . . I would take those industries right out into the home counties . . . . I would plan in association with those industries, new self-contained, independent satellite townships, something on the lines of Letchworth and Welwyn . . . . For most purposes these townships would be physically separated from London. I would do what I could to help them to have a cultural and social life of their own so that they were complete and that they enjoyed a public, collective, and social life of their own.

It would be my endeavour to secure that the people who worked in those towns, lived in them; that they could walk to and from their employment; and that the garden cities all possessed open spaces and were surrounded by agricultural and other land unbuilt upon, so that residents could easily walk to the open country.




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Part II - Letchworth, The First Garden City

Chapter I - Its Establishment and Growth (L)

My notes on the equivalent chapter (with the same title) in the 1925 book can be reached here (1925 link). The additional notes below are complementary to those notes.

This chapter follows very closely the 1925 text with just a few alterations and added short passages, some of which bring in material from Purdom's 1913 book The Garden City - A Study in the Development of a Modern Town. Towards the end of the chapter, Purdom adds some information about local newspapers - the Garden City Press (published by a group of printers with the same name), the Letchworth Magazine, the Citizen and City.

The only other change of significance is to the table showing population growth which is brought up to 1947.

Number of new buildings*


* Including buildings in course of erection
** Estimated by the company




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Chapter II - Its Town-Plan (L)

My notes on the equivalent chapter (titled The Town-Plan) in the 1925 book can be reached here (1925 link). The additional notes below are complementary to those notes.

This chapter follows closely the 1925 text. Purdom has inserted near the beginning two pages on Raymond Unwin which were not in the first edition. Unwin with his partner Barry Parker was architect of Letchworth Garden City. In Purdom's view, Unwin's main architectural influence was on the small cottage and the layout of small cottages. He made the first plan for Letchworth and (in 1907) designed Hampstead Garden Suburb. He became known internationally for his writings and lectures. He promoted villages and small groupings of housing now known as neighbourhood units. In his 1901 book The Art of Building a Home he decried the spoiling of the countryside by rows of jerry-built houses. Purdom quotes Unwin from this book:

What they [people] really want are country villages, little centres of life large enough and varied enough to give them interesting human society and a few of the more necessary comforts of modern life, such as a post office, a railway station, efficient drainage and water supply.

Unwin proposed, therefore, that such people should purchase an estate within easy reach of a town and develop it on co-operative lines, grouping the houses, giving each a sunny aspect, and reserving portions of the land from being built up so as to preserve an open outlook and views. He discussed the lay-out of the site so as to avoid 'mere rows on the one hand and detached villas on the other.' Local building materials, he said, should be used, and a 'controlling influence' be brought into existence, so that the 'introduction of discordant colours or style of building be prevented,' . . . . .

There can be no question that here we find Unwin at this early date applying ideas gathered from Ebenezer Howard's garden city project o a situation that was much easier to visualize and to discuss than that presented by a new town. His mind was upon the small community, the village or suburb, rather than upon the town. It was from such applications that the garden suburb movement arose that did so much to divert attention from the fundamental elements in the garden city. Unwin never really moved from the point of view and the ideas contained here.

Purdom goes on to say that Unwin's plan for Letchworth was like a group of connected villages round a civic centre. This was the first practical example incorporating the neighbourhood unit.

After this passage on Unwin, the text of this chapter continues almost unchanged from the first edition. A new development map (to 1948) replaces the original one which was to 1925.

(L) Letchworth Estate showing development to 1948

(click image to enlarge)

Towards the end of the chapter, a new passage concerned with effects of the 1932 and 1947 housing acts has been added. This is mainly about concerns to preserve Letchworth's separation from its very near neighbours Hitchin and Baldock. Purdon says that control of the town-plan has passed out of the hands of the company and into those of the Ministry of Town and Country Planning.

Purdom also inserts a critique of Unwin's influential 1909 book Town-Planning in Practice: an Introduction to the Art of Designing Cities and Suburbs. In that book, Unwin expands on the ideas of another book by the Viennese architect Camillo Sitte Der Städte-Bau nach seinen künstlerischen Grundsätzen, which extols the virtues of informality by a study of classical and medieval towns.




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Chapter III - Its Shops (L)

My notes on the equivalent chapter (titled The Shops) in the 1925 book can be reached here (1925 link). The additional notes below are complementary to those notes.

The text of this chapter follows that in the 1925 edition with some small changes. The author has inserted the following quotation from Ebenezer Howard regarding the failure of the co-operative movement to establish workshops and stores in the new garden city:

The shopping system of Letchworth is now very much on conventional lines, not at all what it might have been if sufficient imagination and enterprise had been brought into play. The founding of a new town afforded a fine opportunity of which the Co-operative Wholesale Society should have availed itself to the utmost; and I did my best to urge them to do so. But the splendid faith of the pioneers of the co-operative movement did not appear to animate the then managers; they shared rather in the general scepticism, and regarded the first garden city as a wellnigh hopeless experiment, and so took no active part in it. But when a second experiment comes to be tried in the near future, if the Co-operative Wholesale Society does not quickly come forward with a really bold scheme, and with ample capital to carry it out, then a subsidiary company or society should be formed at the very outset, for the purpose of supplying the future townspeople with everything they may want at little over cost price. For it is of vital importance to the well-being of the people that the purchasing power of money should be made as high as possible; and to this end waste must be kept down to the minimum.

It is quite true that the rents derived from the letting of shop sites might be by this plan reduced; but that would be but a very small matter as compared with the tendency to more rapid development of the town, which would follow from low prices. Under such a system, too, the whole body of distributors might enjoy shorter hours and better and more secure employment, while the chief shopping quarter of the town might be made vastly more interesting and attractive.

Purdom has replaced the plan of the shopping centre as it was in 1925 with one as at September 1948. Unfortunately, the new plan is smaller and poorly reproduced in the book. Most of the other illustrations in the book, and the b/w plates, are well-reproduced.

(L) Letchworth shopping centre (September 1948)

The railway station is at the top left hand. The shopping streets are Station Road with three blocks of houses on the north side; Eastcheap, which is wholly shopping and commercial; Leys Avenue, which is wholly shopping, though many of the shops have living accommodation over them; Commerce Avenue, which is shopping and commercial except for houses at the south end; the Wynd (running from Leys Avenue to Station Road), which has small shops and workshops. Norton Way, running north-south on the extreme right, is wholly residential with two churches; Howard Park is on the west. Norton Way North (not shown on the plan) has a few business premises.

(click image to enlarge)




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Chapter IV- The Industries (L)

My notes on the equivalent chapter (titled The Industries) in the 1925 book can be reached here (1925 link). The additional notes below are complementary to those notes.

The text is based on that in the 1925 edition with some changes. Purdom has inserted two paragraphs near the beginning of the chapter which point out that at Letchworth the industrial area was planned as an integral part of the town in relation to the homes of the workers. The layout is now called 'trading estate', the first of which was at Trafford Park in Manchester begun in 1898. Purdom also mention that the Abercrombie Report on Greater London recommended that the population of Letchworth should be limited to 32,000 (not 35,000) and the industrial area to the present 260 acres (not 340 acres).

The author has replaced the plan of the industrial area with a new one:

(L) Letchworth industrial area (September 1948)

The railway runs across the area from east to west. At the bottom left-hand corner is some early housing, with more at the top right-hand corner, and part of the residential area is shown at the top left-hand corner. The factory area is intended to be extended to the south. The gasworks and electricity generating station are shown.

(click image to enlarge)

The author gives a revised list of current manufacturers as follows:

Adhesive Papers: Samuel Jones & Co. Ltd.
Advertising Tape: British Standard Tape Co.
Baby Carriages: Marmet Ltd.
Belts and Bituminous Paints: Mastic Roofing & Paving Co.
Chemicals: Messrs Boake Roberts & Co. Ltd.
Corsets: The Spirella Company of Great Britain Ltd.
Costume Manufacturers: H. Martin & Co.
Cycle and Motor Cycle Components: Chater-Lea Manufacturing Co. Ltd.
Electrical Fittings and Appliances: Electrical Rewinds (Letchworth).
H. A. (Sales) Ltd.
Hume Atkins & Co. Ltd.
Embroidery: Lewis Falk Ltd.
Engineering: Aldic Engineering Co. Ltd.
Brilock Equipment.
British Bundy Tubing Co.
Challand Ltd.
Clarke Ellard Engineering Co. Ltd.
Cooper Stewart Engineering Works.
Davis Precision Tools Ltd.
T. H. Dixon & Co. Ltd.
Engineering & Metals Co.
Ewart & Son Ltd.
Furmston & Lawlor.
Green & Nickels.
Hands (Letchworth) Ltd.
Herle-Whitley Ltd.
Irving Air Chute of Great Britain, Ltd.
K. & L. Steelfounders & Engineers Ltd.
Kingswood Manufacturing Co. Ltd.
Letchworth Casting Co. Ltd.
Letchworth Heath Treatment & Hardening Co.
Letchworth Plating Co.
Letchworth Sheet Metals Ltd.
Lloyds & Co. (Letchworth) Ltd.
Matthew Donald Engineering Co. Ltd.
Morse Chain Co. Ltd.
Shelvoke & Drewry Ltd.
Shirtliff Bros. Ltd.
Leo C. Steinle Ltd.
Farm and Garden Requisites: Country Gentlemen's Association Ltd.
Food Products: Golden Block Ltd.
Letchworth Bacon Co. Ltd.
Machine Foods Ltd.
Furniture: D. Meredew Ltd.
Laundry: Letchworth Economic Laundry Ltd.
Lenses: Clement Clarke Ltd.
Hanwell Optical Co. Ltd.
Kryptok Ltd.
Locks: Nico Manufacturing Co. Ltd.
Matches: Anglia Match Co. Ltd.
Oiled Silk: Oiled Silk Industries Ltd.
Office Appliances: British Tabulating Machine Co. Ltd.
Paper Folding Machines: Camco (Machinery) Ltd.
Photographic Papers: Kosmos Photographics Ltd.
Printers: J. M. Dent & Sons Ltd.
Garden City Press Ltd.
Letchworth Printers Ltd.
Loxley & Co. Ltd.
Multicolor (London) Ltd.
St. Christopher Press Ltd.
Rubber Manufacturers: Herts Rubber Co.
Scientific Instruments.: Foster Instrument Co. Ltd.
Sigma Instrument Co. Ltd.
Stationers' Sundries: W. C. Bowry & Co.
Timber Merchants: J. T. Stanton & Co. Ltd.
J. Sutcliffe (Timber) Ltd.

Purdom points out that nineteen names on the 1925 list have gone, some because the firm changed its name but most because it went out of business. More than thirty new names are present.

When preparing the first edition of the book, Purdom sent questionnaires to Letchworth companies asking four question: (1) Reason for coming to Letchworth ? (2) Has your experience at Letchworth as an industrial centre been satisfactory ? (3) Can you indicate the advantages you have found in Letchworth as an industrial centre ? (4) What are the improvements needed in Letchworth from a manufacturer's point of view ? Purdom repeated the survey for the second edition of his book and again includes several pages of answers in the book. The main shortcomings were inadequate rail service and postal service, and lack of workers' entertainments and social facilities - broadly the same as in 1925.

The author adds some paragraphs at the end of the report which discuss comments in the 1944 Abercrombie Report criticising manufacturers for taking more land than they need and leaving it undeveloped.




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Chapter V- The Public Services (L)

My notes on the equivalent chapter (with the same title) in the 1925 book can be reached here (1925 link).

The text for this chapter is largely the same as that in the first edition. The tables of statistics are brought up to date. For example, for the electricity supply, the number of miles of electric main laid had increased from 22 to 160 (1925 to 1945), and the quantity of electricity supplied from 3.8 million to 40.7 B.T.U. In 1947 a subsidiary company, Letchworth Electricity Ltd was set up.




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Chapter VI - Its Agriculture (L)

This chapter is virtually unchanged from the first edition and I refer you to my notes on the equivalent chapter (with the title Agriculture) in the 1925 book which can be reached here (1925 link).




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Chapter VII - Its Finance (L)

My notes on the equivalent chapter (with the title Finance) in the 1925 book can be reached here (1925 link). The additional notes below are complementary to those notes.

Purdom has made little change to this chapter apart from bringing the accounting tables up to date.

He does point out that the chairman announced that the arrears in the dividend repayments were finally to be made in 1946. Also he explains that the nationalization of electricity has caused a loss in income for the company which accounted for nearly half of the £96,734 profit for the year 1947. The company received over £1.1 million in compensation.

There is a passage about "unearned increment", expanded from the first edition, in which Purdom argues that this is the wrong term to use because the increase in the value of the land is truly earned by those that designed and set up the scheme and run it and those who live there - i.e. the community. After this, Purdom mentions that included in the 1947 Town and Country Planning Act was a 'development charge' on land on which building is to take place. He thinks this could be problem for the company unless the garden city could be exempted from such payments.




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Chapter VIII - Conclusion (L)

My notes on the equivalent chapter (with the same title) in the 1925 book can be reached here (1925 link). The additional notes below are complementary to those notes.

This chapter has been somewhat revised and includes Purdom's own critique of the achievements and failures of Letchworth. Below is the full (1949) text:

But the way out of this impasse has already been shown. At Letchworth in Hertfordshire there has been carried out within the last twelve years perhaps the most successful and instructive social experiment of recent times . . . . . The interests of national health demand that further efforts should be pushed on with all vigour.

W. A. Brend, Health and the State (1917)

Letchworth was not founded merely to provide good houses for a few thousand people and sites for a few factories, but to demonstrate what could be done by foresight and a proper regard for public interests to work out a system of orderly development for communities. The town should be studied as a national object-lesson in which for the first time principles of town-construction capable of general application were observed. The experiment remains unfinished, for the town is still in the making, and its future may easily be more significant than the past; but the town has its complete parts and the leading features of the scheme have been tested, so that more and more is to be gained from a thorough examination of it. In the preceding chapters of this part of this book an account has been given of the various stages in the growth of the place, and the position of the town and the garden city company, which has made the town, have been explained. The writer has invited the reader to look at Letchworth as it is, comparing it with the scheme that was originally put forward, and he does not think it unfair to claim that the town stands the comparison, that it provides a most valuable example of town-building and that it proves without question the rightness of the fundamental ideas upon which it was founded.

Let us again call to mind what those ideas were. They were set out in a pamphlet issued in 1901, two years before the town was started, not in the form of deliberately reasoned principles but as objects to be aimed at:

The chief objects to be attained in garden cities are (1) to associate the means of living (employment) with the home of the worker by removing established industries to, or founding others on, new sites, and under conditions which shall secure the best attainable conditions of life in town and country; (2) to provide sites for the houses of the workers in proximity to such industries; and (3) to reserve (a) to the inhabitants of cities thus formed the increment of value which their presence will give to the sites, and among other benefits (b) the highest attainable physical and intellectual advantages of town life, together with the freedom and healthfulness of residence in the country - these being secured in the interests of the industrial, professional and commercial classes alike.

Is it not true to say that Letchworth is a genuine embodiment of those objects, that it has established their practicability, and that in doing so it provides material by the aid of which principles for future town-building may safely be formulated ? It has shown, without question, that the planning and development of a town fit to live in, and providing adequate conditions for industrial undertakings, is a feasible project that has a sound financial basis. We should not be misled by the relatively slow growth of the town into thinking that there was some defect in the scheme. The position of the estate was not a specially favourable one; it possessed few attractive natural features, it was not very close to London, it was on a branch line of railway, and it must be remembered that the company was always hampered for want of capital, and, above all, that the scheme was unique, with no precedents to be followed, and with nothing to guide the directors in the course of their business. The ordinary methods of estate development, under which large areas of land are disposed of as quickly as possible at the best prices obtainable, could not be adopted. The town as a whole had to be thought out, and land developed for different purposes in different areas under such restrictions as the company felt bound to impose.

It must never be ignored that the town was a private venture, undertaken in the public interest, without governmental support of any kind, and, apart from the people who devoted themselves to its building, owing nothing to any other source. As a pioneer scheme its promoters had only themselves to depend on. The undertaking ought to be regarded as in the nature of a colonizing enterprise, and for that reason Howard's evocation of the name of Wakefield in his book was justified.

At the same time it must be admitted that the directors had largely themselves to blame for the slow development. of the town and the disappointments that they consequently suffered. From the start, the board was never sufficiently united upon a consistent policy of development to enable a programme to be carried out with the energy that was needed. The organization of the company was never complete. Indeed, it gradually became something in the nature of a policy for the company to do as little as possible, and when a certain stage was reached it seemed to be the intention to sit down, collect the revenue, and allow the town to grow by its own impetus. This inertia was, in the first instance, the outcome of acute differences among members of the board, but it became a settled habit. The directors were men of outstanding ability in their own spheres, but no single one of them knew enough about the business or was able to devote sufficient time to enter fully into the complex nature of the enterprise. The scheme, therefore, must be regarded as having developed to some extent under its own momentum, and by virtue of its own inherent good qualities.

At no time during the early formative years was the board able to solve the problems of the administration of the undertaking. The directors attended frequent meetings, some of them gave much time to the business, but none gave his whole time. It was, of course, a novel enterprise and the varied business experience possessed by members of the board was not sufficient for the new business they were undertaking, and no one got down to the actual requirements of the undertaking. The difficulties with which they were confronted were immense, of which the lack of money was the greatest, for it meant that they did not really know if they would be able to continue. Thus, they were handicapped in working out long-term organizational plans. Thomas Adams, the secretary, acted in a managerial capacity at the start; but he lacked ability as a manager, though he was hard-working, physically active, and devoted to the idea. He had to be replaced after two years, and W. H. Gaunt was made estate agent, in charge of the executive work of the entire undertaking. Gaunt came from Trafford Park, with the reputation of considerable industrial experience; but he showed no sympathy with the idealism of the directors themselves or of the early residents and he had no understanding of what Unwin had in mind, so that conflicts were immediate and serious. Thus, 'business' in the person of the company's chief official was arrayed against the 'ideals' of the residents, the expression of this antagonism reaching its high-water mark in the publication of the monthly magazine, the City, in which the activities of the company, 'Our Mutual Friend,' were subjected to friendly but biting examination. One of the directors of the company, who was also a resident, was one of the chief financial supporters of this publication. Of course, such conflicts were natural, and not without the possibility of fruitful results, for always and everywhere authority frowns upon originality and enterprise, and exists to be challenged. It was unfortunate, however, that authority appeared to be satisfied with a single function and failed in offering sufficient signs of vigour and enterprise to provide leadership for the town. There was a sense of confusion and disillusionment, and doubt that the company really intended to carry out its original aims, for which there was no justification. No more genuine group of people ever existed than the members of the board of the company but they did not convince the residents through the officials they employed that they had but a single aim. Indeed, it is true to say that the community spirit was stamped upon. In fairness, however, we must go further, for the active carrying out of the enterprise of building the garden city and the administration of the undertaking, which altogether amounted to a complex affair, had inadequate provision made for it, with the result that all aspects of the company's work suffered. On the one hand there was never sufficient attack and energy in the effort to develop the town, and on the other hand the co-operation of the inhabitants was never secured.

One unfortunate outcome of the state of affairs that was brought about was that the garden city fell out of a foremost place in public attention. Indeed, to be frank, it was ignored. For example, the famous Land Report issued shortly before the first war had no more than a bare reference to Letchworth, and gave no indication that the garden city had the remotest relevance to the matters of housing and land reform so fervently discussed in the report. The scheme was given no attention in any government report. Even Patrick Geddes in his remarkable work Cities in Evolution (1915), though he had some good things to say of the garden city, was inclined to associate it with the garden suburb. The propagandist bodies such as the Garden Cities and Town Planning Association and the National Housing and Town Planning Council did not direct attention to the garden city as of practical interest. This was indication of serious failure.

Yet despite all that may be urged in the way of criticism, we are bound to come back to the undoubted fact that the undertaking was a daring one, embarked upon under unfavourable financial conditions and in the midst of general doubt as to its practicability As a private enterprise with no official support of any kind, it was wholly dependent upon the time, money, and personal backing of the directors, who worked with no prospect of (or even desire for) personal reward. That the directors showed genuine capacity in their initiation of the scheme, and rare courage in the manner in which they persisted in the endeavour to carry it through in the face of constant discouragements, cannot be denied, and to fail in admiration of these facts would be ungenerous.

Since Letchworth was started in 1903 the country has had legislation upon town-planning and discussion in abundance upon almost every aspect of the subject. In the steps towards that legislation, and in all the subsequent discussions, the achievement of Letchworth has played an important part. We have had a vast amount of housing undertaken throughout the country, upon all of which the influence of Letchworth has been felt. Yet the characteristic feature of Letchworth, the fundamental principle of the scheme, of which town-planning and improved housing are but the incidental details, has remained but little understood. The praise of Letchworth became a cliché, which writers of every party, school, and opinion used for years on every possible occasion; but until 1920 Letchworth stood alone and with none but a few people concerned with its real character. To-day, forty-five years after the garden city was started, the position has changed. The building of garden cities has become natural policy. They are not called garden cities, but the new towns to which the Government has committed itself are nothing else. They owe their existence to Ebenezer Howard and to the first experiment at Letchworth. How conscious the company is of this fact was indicated by the acting chairman, Mr. Ralph T. Edge, in his speech to the shareholders on 3rd February 1949, when he said:

Looking back over the history of the company, one cannot fail to be struck by the astounding grasp the founders of the company had of the basic essentials for the community which they planned. One by one their ideas have been adopted by successive Governments in power since the inception of Letchworth: use and density zoning; tree-lined roads; control of architectural design; new towns fully planned in advance; and finally the appropriation of the increase in land values resulting from development, to the community and not to the individual. In so far as this company is in essence a corporation carrying out a public duty, we have been operating for many years in our own sphere on exactly the same lines as recent legislation authorizes the Government to operate for the country as a whole. But there is a sad difference. We had hoped that the growth of prosperity would have enabled us to devote increasing sums to the improvement and beautifying of Letchworth, and to the supplying of want and needs which were beyond the limits of private generosity or outside the scope of public authority. That dream of localized benefit has substantially gone, but a great work still remains to be accomplished.

The position of Letchworth in relation to the powers given to the Minister of Town and Country Planning under the New Towns Act has already been raised. In January 1948 the urban district council passed a resolution, with one abstention, requesting the minister to set up a development corporation under the Act. A deputation from the council was received by the minister in March when the council was told that under the present difficult conditions in carrying out development the minister would not be able to reach a decision for some time. The reply indicated that the minister was ready to consider the matter.

The council's reasons for making the request were said to be mainly financial. Faced with heavy expenditure on building and sewage works, among other matters, the help that could be given by a development corporation was required, and the council rightly considered that Letchworth. ought to have priority in building permits and be completed before new towns that were started later.

No prior consultation took place with the garden city company, however, and every thing depended, from the company's point of view, upon how the minister considered the Act could be applied to Letchworth. Had he decided upon taking the completion of the town out of the hands of the company there can be no doubt that the company would have regarded it as a serious injustice. It appears, however, that the minister has come to the conclusion to allow the company to carry on with the development of the town, for in the speech of the acting chairman, referred to on the previous page, the latter said:

Some months ago he [the minister] asked the directors to go and see him, and he told us that he had decided that, subject to the acceptance of certain conditions, the company was a suitable body to complete the development of Letchworth.

The position has not been clarified at the moment of writing, but it is satisfactory as far as it goes, for every one will agree that the company ought to be allowed to complete its work. This will require the backing of the Government, subject to carrying out the minister's wishes. A big responsibility will be thrown upon the board of the company, for it will be placed in competition with the minister's own development corporations, and in view of the start the town has had its rapid development will be looked for. Much will depend upon what the minister will in fact do to meet the needs of the company and the district council too. For the first time in its history the company has considerable cash resources, due to the enforced sale of the electricity undertaking, and will be able to carry on building and development on a large scale if it is allowed to do so. It is clear from the acting chairman's speech that the board has this in mind, for reference is made to the fact that 'the company may find it desirable to undertake a considerable amount of building on its own account.' But a good deal of Government support will be necessary under present conditions if the town is not to be placed in a position inferior to that of the younger new towns. In particular the company's special claim to relief from the development charges under the Town and Country Planning Act, 1947, will have to be met. What is to be looked for from the company is energetic enterprise based upon its past experience and full use of the knowledge it has gained.

In conclusion let us agree that the first town on the garden city plan could not realize all its possibilities. It may justly be said to be a wonderful testimony to the promoters of the first garden city that they succeeded m sustaining their scheme intact. Was there ever a first attempt that was so successful. How many models of a great invention have to be made and scrapped before a satisfactory result is reached ? In town-building such prodigality cannot be practised; but it would not have been strange, or contrary to human experience, if a number of attempts at building garden cities had to be made before anything worth having was reached. Yet Letchworth, this first attempt at a decently planned modern town on a new site, is, with all its faults, a credit to those who have built it. And although the new garden cities that arise may attain a higher standard, nevertheless Letchworth will always rank as an outstanding achievement, and ought to come to occupy a more and more conspicuous place in our national life.




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Part III - Welwyn Garden City, The First Satellite Town

Chapter I - Its Establishment and Growth (W)

My notes on the equivalent chapter (with the same title) in the 1925 book can be reached here (1925 link). The additional notes below are complementary to those notes.

The text for this chapter follows that in the first edition, with some changes and additions. The author quotes from his 1917 pamphlet The Garden City After the War:

Think what it would mean to England if, instead of haphazard building and the increase of great towns, the new building were made the occasion of establishing fifty or more towns of 50,000 people, centres of civic consciousness and pride, reconstructing local life and custom, and contributing to the richness and variety of our national life . . . . .

The proposal to build garden cities can stand its ground on the question of finance; for the new houses and factories must be built, and it will be no more expensive to build them on the garden city plan than to undertake them on no plan at all. It is true that in the rapid creation of new towns the State could not in the first instance expect the same degree of security for its advances that it generally obtained under the old Housing Acts; but reasonable security could be obtained by intelligent selection of sites, by the use of the experience of Letchworth in the details of development, and by the nomination of a proportion of the directorate. Money so expended would be an investment of lasting value, not devoted merely to tiding over an evil time or even to meeting the bare needs of social hygiene, but a definite addition to the national wealth and well-being. Of its ultimate security in the strictest sense there can be no question, for what better security for capital can there be than that of the increased population and productivity of the land ? It is obvious that what has been done for the first time with straitened means by a group of individuals can be done with far greater prospect of success with wider experience, larger resources, and an idea no longer merely experimental.

This appeal was not successful (see my 1925 notes for the Minister's reply).

Further on, the author has inserted more details about the purchase of the Salisbury estate. This passage follows on from the paragraph given in my 1925 notes:

When Howard was informed of the initial property sale, he went at once, without consulting his friends, to Sir John Oakley, head of the firm of Daniel Smith, Oakley & Garrard, who were Lord Desborough's auctioneers, to say that he intended to bid for the land for a garden city. Oakley took no advantage of this information but advised Howard to consult Norman Savill of Edwin Savill & Sons, another eminent firm of surveyors, which Howard did with happy results. For Savill became interested in Howard and his scheme, gave him good advice, and acted for him at the sale, actually putting up out of his own pocket a substantial amount to complete the deposit money when the sum provided by Howard proved insufficient.

Howard got to join him in this scheme J. R. Farquharson, an industrialist, who had been interested in cottage building at Letchworth, Lieutenant-Colonel F. E. Fremantle, M.P., who had been county medical officer of health for Hertfordshire, Walter T. Layton, C.H., who was at that time director of the National Federation of Iron and Steel Manufacturers, R. L. Reiss, Bolton Smart, who was then a director of First Garden City Ltd., Samuel Smethurst, a well-known builder, and the present writer. The intentions of those concerned was set out in a 'Preliminary Announcement of a garden city in Hertfordshire for London industries,' issued in September 1919, before the company was formed.

See my 1925 notes for an extract from this announcement.

The author inserts a line which says that the total area of the company's estate (1949) is 4,536 acres after deducting land disposed of to the railways. Purdom leaves out a page of information giving details of leases. He expands the list of architects whose have worked in the town:

Among the architects who worked in the town during the first five years, in addition to Louis de Soissons, the company's architect, were C. M. Crickmer, Allen Foxley, C. M. Hennell & C. H. James, H. Clapham Lander, Barry Parker, W. A. Kenyon, Williams & Cox, Bennett & Bidwell, C. J. Kay, Berkeley Wills, J. C. Tickle, Mauger & Tanner, H. G. Cherry, and C. W. Fox, and to these names must now be added those of Leonard Martin, Spalding & Myers, Thompson & Fowler, T. W. Scott, Nicholas & Dixon Spain, H. C. Bankart, J. A. Crush, L. Angus, G. Barusley, F. T. Winter, H. T. Barnard, T. Smith Shearer, Marshall Sisson, Wallis, Gilbert & Partners, Prof. Salvisberg (Zürich), C. S. Brown, Frost, Chamberlain & Edwards, Christian Barman, A. J. May, R. J. Muir, John C. Soutar, C. H. Elson & H. Stone, J. W. Dudding, E. C. Kent, Louis Moore, Sir Charles Nicholson, Leslie K. Watson, G. A. Butlin, W. A. Eden, & F. W. Knight.

The author has inserted nine extra pages in the chapter which describe housing developments between 1925 and 1949. The new Urban District Council assumed responsibility for housing but their first scheme under the Addison Act was not completed until 1930.

Date of
Number of
Average Cost including
Land and Development
Feb. 1930 100 (24 parlour, 76 non-parlour) £466 H. C. Lander
Feb. 1931 200 (46 parlour, 154 non-parlour) £416 L. de Soissons
A. W. Kenyon, and
C. H. James
May 1933 65 (57 non-parlour, 8 flats) £385 G. R. Barnsley
April 1936 84 (non-parlour) £386 G. R. Barnsley
Nov. 1937 118 (91 parlour, 19 non-parlour, 8 flats, 6 garages) £445 C. W. Fox
March 1939 132 (124 houses, 8 flats, 6 garages)   C. W. Fox
Aug. 1940 ) 274 (130 houses, 20 flats, 13 garages)
(54 houses)
(70 houses)
July 1943 )   ) C. W. Fox
July 1947 )   )
Jan 1946 50 (prefabricated bungalows)   -
Jan 1948 53 (37 houses, 16 flats)   C. W. Fox

Purdom says that the slowness of the progress was due to difficulty in obtaining the subsidies. The Treasury was under pressure to reduce expenditure and had other priorities especially slum clearance. In 1937 the position seemed more hopeful with the Ministry, but the war brought building to an end with incomplete houses remaining unfinished until building resumed.

The author continues in the inserted pages with a discussion of density of building, and layout in relation to contour. He describes in some detail a scheme for 110 houses completed in 1937 under the C. W. Fox who became the town's architect having worked there from an early date.

Purdom inserts a couple of paragraphs about gravel and sand pits and brickmaking:

The opening of gravel and sand pits for road-making and building purposes was, of course, an early activity. There were deposits of gravel and sand in various parts of the estate, and after a survey had been made, the company opened a number of pits in places where the excavations would be the least injurious to its scheme. The exploitations of gravel and sand deposits can be a very serious detriment to the amenities of a district, as many places in the neighbourhood of London have discovered. At the same time the presence of this material is of great economic advantage to development works. The largest gravel works set up by the company was at Twentieth Mile, where a gravel crushing, washing, and grading plant was erected. The land was well worked and almost exhausted when it was taken over by the R.A.F. during the second war for the purpose of a training unit. Now, it cannot be used again, and will be redesigned as a public park for the town. The company does not propose to open up other pits but to depend upon outside supplies.

The presence of brick-earth was proved, and a brickworks was set up in the Sherrards Park Wood area for hand-making a red facing brick. When the use of this land became inconvenient a semi-mechanical plant was established on another site near the gravel pit mentioned above, but on the east of the railway, where there was brick earth and where clay washed out of the ground could be used; this works is still being operated, there being sufficient clay for three million bricks a year for the next ten years. The clay is of high quality, and the company felt justified in continuing to use it for brick-making.

The author also inserts two street plans:


(W) An interesting layout of a council scheme on an irregularly shaped site in which
the problems presented were successfully overcome (1947, in progress)

C. W. Fox, Architect

(click image to enlarge)


(W) Lay-out of a site for the Garden City Company (1946, in progress)

(click image to enlarge)

The author has added a page about the representation of company on council and council on company. This begins:

When the parish council was formed, the garden city company had agreed that its secretary should act as clerk to the council, and, with the formation of the urban district council, the company's secretary continued as clerk, while its accountant became rating and finance officer, and its engineer, surveyor to the council. Thus the administration of company and local authority was brought into the same hands. Under the constitution of the company, the local authority had been given the right to appoint three of its members upon the board of the company to serve as directors, which had been acted upon when the parish council was formed. So the company and the district council were closely linked together. The 'civic directors' were appointed with the object of getting the residents interested in what the company was doing, and of bringing their influence to bear upon the company's policy. The joint officials system was the outcome of ideas of economy and efficiency; for it was thought that the work of the local authority would be better done by the company's staff than by officials who would probably have been but part-time and could anyhow have been paid only small salaries.

The author goes on to say that the aim of this arrangement failed because the civil directors, although attending meetings, did not become involved in the company's affairs. In 1930 the council employed a separate clerk, and the appointment of civic directors was ended in 1934.

A table of population statistics (1927-1945) has been added:

Year Legitimate Illegitimate Rate per 1,000
of Population
Male Female Rate per 1,000
of Population
No. Rate per 1,000
1927 105 3 21.4 11 14 5.0 2 18.51
1928 159 3 20.7 29 16 5.71 1 6.17
1929 191 4 24.15 24 26 6.19 7 35.89
1930 155 6 19.82 26 23 6.06 7 43.4
1931 184 4 21.85 20 24 5.11 1 5.3
1832 162 10 19.1 27 30 6.3 7 46.0
1933 169 1 18.3 26 29 5.9 4 23.0
1934 186 5 20.2 24 22 5.1 3 15.7
1935 189 10 19.8 35 25 7.4 7 35.0
1936 217 6 20.8 37 40 9.1 14 62.8
1937 236 8 21.5 45 37 9.8 12 49.2
1938 220 3 16.2 45 45 8.1 7 31.4
1939 292   15.7 89 7.48 9 30.6
1940 287 5 17.17 60 69 10.1 17 58.2
1941 449 10 16.3 128 7.2 10 35.2
1942 488 18 17.44 69 62 7.25 15 48.4
1943 326 19 20.00 135 7.54 6 17.39
1944 367 25 22.82 131 7.42 11 28.06
1945 313 31 19.87 73 50 7.10 17 49.42

Vital Statistics for the Year 1946
The estimated population at mid 1946 17,730
Number of deaths from all causes 114
Number of live births 428
Number of still births 7
Number of deaths of infants under I year 12
Live birth rate per 1,000 of the population 24.8
Still birth rate per 1,000 live and still births 16.09
Crude death rate per 1,000 of the population 6.44
Death rate of all infants per 1,000 live births 28.03

The author had added a passage about the Central Civic Fund begun in 1927 to collect money for bodies such as the hospital, Health Association, Educational Association, Boys' Club, Guild of Help and St John Ambulance Brigade. He also writes that in 1935 Peartree Club House was made available for a boy's club with a full-time warden, and branches for ages 12 to 14 (junior) and 14 to 18 (main club). This is in addition to two other youth clubs and St Francis Boys' Club already in existence for over twenty years.

Purdom also writes that in 1932 the company disposed of the Cherry Tree Restaurant to a brewer and a new building was erected designed by R. J. Muir. A new pub was built in Peartree in 1939.

In a new paragraph about public halls, the author writes:

The company intended to retain for the town the control of cinemas and the profits from this form of entertainment, so that a cinema was started under the management of the restaurant company in the store building, and in 1927-8 the Welwyn Theatre was built by the company, from designs by Louis de Soissons. It was a long plain building, the auditorium being 66 feet wide and 95 feet long, with a balcony, and seating for about 1,200. This was too long a building for a theatre, but its main use was to be a cinema, though it had a fully equipped stage for plays, as there was a plan to make Welwyn Garden City a theatrical centre based on the theatre. An amateur repertory company was formed with the object of playing at the theatre in association with the cinema management, but, although an interesting opening performance was given, the enterprise came to a sudden end, and the theatre became a cinema occasionally hired to amateurs for their plays. In 1936 the garden city company, not being able to run the cinema successfully, sold the theatre to a local circuit and gave the same circuit rights over future cinema sites. This is to be regarded as a serious error of judgment, for not only did the company part with a valuable means of revenue but it set up a monopoly which prevented a film society, desired by some of the residents, from operating.

Purdom relates that Welwyn Stores began publication at its own expense of a weekly paper Welwyn Garden City News, delivered free to each house and sold in the store.

. . . . Although the paper belonged to the stores and was run at its expense, it was conducted on the principle of editorial independence, and advertisements from outside competing traders were accepted. Coincident with the starting of the News, an independent paper called the Pilot was published by one of the residents with the object of attacking the garden city company's shopping policy, and providing an organ of criticism of the company in general. This paper depended upon the advertising support of tradesmen in the surrounding towns, and, being run with considerable energy, as the proprietor wanted to make a living out of it, and maintaining a lively and persistent defence of the supposed interests of those who had no intention of setting up business in the town, it was able to keep going. An organ of opposition was recognized to be a good thing, however, and although the News printed without restriction letters from critical or dissatisfied people, an independent press undoubtedly performed a service. There were old-established local newspapers issued from St. Albans and Hertford; but they could not exert the influence of a paper produced locally. An outlet for criticism, though based upon misunderstanding, even when captious or simply malicious, is of value to a community, and this at least the Pilot provided. In 1928, however, its criticism not being any further welcomed by the company, the newspaper was bought up and amalgamated with the News, a new publication entitled the Welwyn Times being issued, with a board of directors on which some residents served; but the new paper remained none the less under the control of the company. Although it has in the course of time and under the conditions brought about by the war become well established, the Welwyn Times, as the company's organ, presents local news in a way considered to suit its interests, and hardly provides a means of objective news reporting, which must be considered, in some respects at any rate, to be a disadvantage to the town.

The following population table has been added to the chapter:

Year Number of
New Buildings*
1920 136 430
1921 262 851
1922 438 1,417
1923 658 1,893
1924 919 2,584
1925 1,147 3,575
1926 1,671 5,100
1927 1,946 6,600
1928 2,065 7,000
1929 2,175 7,583
1930 2,542 8,540
1931 2,654 9,125
1932 2,678 9,250
1933 2,771 9,587
1934 2,804 10,200
1935 2,961 10,950
1936 3,202 12,250
1937 3,554 13,500
1938 3,930 14,150
1939 4,143 14,915
1940 4,194 20,000***
1941 There are no reliable statistics
for this period; the fluctuations
were marked, with a peak
war population not recorded.
1946 4,571 17,750
1947 4,695 18,000


From 1920 to 1924 the buildings in course of erection are included, after that date the total is for residential buildings completed.
The original population of 400 is included.
The town was greatly overcrowded during the war because of the presence of 18,000 evacuated children and others and from the direction of war-workers; it remains overcrowded at the moment of writing (1949), there being about 1,000 more people in the place than can be adequately housed.

Finally, the following short paragraph must have been added at the last minute:

An addition has to be made to the above words because in October 1947 the Minister of Town and Country Planning announced that he proposed to take over the completion of Welwyn Garden City by setting up a development corporation under the New Towns Act, 1946. This is discussed at some length on another page; at this point it is sufficient to say that the proposal will decisively affect the future of the town. The minister made the order creating the development corporation in May 1948, and set up the corporation in the following month.




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Chapter II - Its Town-Plan (W)

My notes on the equivalent chapter (with the title The Town-Plan) in the 1925 book can be reached here (1925 link). The additional notes below are complementary to those notes.

From the beginning the text of this chapter follows closely that of the 1925 edition. Purdom inserts the following short paragraph concerning the authorship of the town-plan:

A sketch plan for the town was made in 1919 by the Letchworth architect C. M. Crickmer; but the company decided to have the town-plan prepared by its own staff, and with that object set up an architect's department with the young architect Louis de Soissons at its head. Mr. de Soissons had a brilliant academic record and was regarded as one of the architects of the future; with a strong personality, a lively and acute mind, and considerable ability in presenting his many ideas, he immediately established his position. The plan that he prepared has great merits, when it is considered that he was in many directions prevented from reaching desired solutions because of the limitations of the site and the company's position.

Purdom gives a table showing the original allocation of land for a town of 40,000.

Residential including small open spaces 1,298
Industrial 170
Central civic and commercial 80
Schools 150
Parks and rural belt 608
Railway land 72
Total area of original estate 2,378

Further land would be required to complete the scheme.

The author includes the following new passage regarding class separation and the effect of the division of the estate in two by the north-south main railway line:

The industrial, business, and civic areas made the heart of the plan; the residential areas had to be arranged around it, and to it the roads as arteries and veins of the plan had to come. The residential districts had necessarily to be in proximity to the factory area and the station, while the more remote parts, and particularly the north-west woodlands, were chosen for larger houses, with motor access to the Great North Road. It was not intended to segregate the working-class population, and the plan was so designed that properties of various sizes and values could be developed together.

The division of the town into two main parts by the railway running north to south presented a considerable problem. It enabled the station to be put in the centre of the town, which was an advantage, and it made possible the definition of the industrial area, which was placed on the north-east, where the branch line to Hertford ran through it, facilitating the construction of private sidings. But more than half of the residential area of the town had to be on the east of the railway, which meant a marked separation between the east and west of the town. Because, however, the isolation of the working population was not desired, and there was the intention to get away from the characteristics of housing estates, the company decided to place small groups of working-class houses on the west side, in Handside Lane, Guessens Road, and Applecroft Road. Of course, the demand for the good residential neighbourhood had also to be met, and the company could not fly too far in the face of it.

What was needed was the creation of neighbourhood units, but the company never really grappled with the problem, which was strange in view of the fact that four of the original directors lived in the place.

Thus the residential part of the east of the town became built up with a series of housing schemes, which had the merit of being designed by different architects, so that they were not on a single pattern; but variety in the appearance of this part of the town did nothing to bring about a mixture of classes, because, although the company did a great deal of building prior to the war, the good residential type of house was not built there at all.

Everything was against the company doing anything else, it is true. It did not possess the financial freedom to do what it would like to have done, and had to proceed under the whip of necessity. Had the necessary money been there, and had the full extent of the land been available on the east that the company required for its scheme, more could have been attempted. Happily, however, the town as a whole was a mixed community. People in all parts collaborated in the social organizations, and in the town's life there is a very definite admixture of classes. No kind of prejudice asserts itself. There is at least a measure of common interest and a sense of sharing.

  There is a new plan showing development of the south-western area of the town to 1949:

(W) South-west area: development carried out to 1949

At the left-hand top corner is shown part of a fruit farm and the southern part of the golf-course; on the left at the bottom is the secondary school. Development has still to be completed. The shortening of Parkway and the rather congested building on the south-east are notable changes from the plan. The town centre and main shopping and business area are at the head of Parkway.

(click image to enlarge)


In the section on closes and culs-de-sac, there is a new plan to illustrate:

(W) Lay-out of part of the District Council's scheme in Salisbury Road
showing Shortlands Green (1930)

Louis de Soissons, Architect

(click image to enlarge)

There is an interesting paragraph added about building plans for wooded areas:

Large areas of the existing woodlands in the north-western part of the estate, including Digswell Park, were intended to be preserved. This was not fully shown in the original town-plan because of the need to provide for the maximum population on an area that did not allow for it, and it is true that the idea of building in Sherrard's Wood existed in the minds of some members of the board at the start, though never publicly disclosed and not in fact adopted by the company until 1937, when a storm arose over the company's plans to build in woodlands that the residents had come to look upon as their cherished and almost only open space. The result was that the company's plans were modified, without the town being satisfied, though the district council accepted the company's proposals; but to what extent the projected development will take place remains to be seen. The fact that the area of the estate was always insufficient for the company's project is an aspect of the situation that must not be overlooked in any estimate of this matter. During the war, much of the timber in the woods was sacrificed by the orders of the Ministry of Supply.

Seven new pages are added to the chapter including a new 1947 development map. The new passage concerns the relationship between the company and the council, and the effect of legislation on the town's development.

Purdom explains that the town-plan was the responsibility of the company which exercised this in consultation with the urban district council. This formalised by the following voluntary agreement drawn up in 1931:

The company deposited with the council a plan showing the development at that date and its intentions at that date regarding future development. The plan showed existing and proposed roads and by means of colours the areas of land devoted or intended to be devoted to specific classes of buildings or reserved or intended to be reserved for private or public open spaces. The plan showed a large area of the company's estate not included in the plan and left white.

The company undertook:

(a) Before varying substantially the route of any proposed main roads to give not less than two months' notice to the council.

(b) Before making any change in the 'use' areas shown on the plan to give not less than two months' notice to the council.

(c) Before erecting any buildings (except farm buildings) on the area left white to give not less than two months' notice to the council.

In 1937 the urban district council decided to take up the powers given to it under the Town and Country Planning Act of 1932, and appointed Professor S. D. Adshead as town-planning advisor. A draft plan was prepared in 1938 which completed the company's plan but differed from in some details. This caused a controversy which became acute. The matter was put aside as war came.

Then arose a situation that was highly complicated: the Abercrombie Greater London Plan, 1944, the activities of the joint town-planning committees, the formation in 1946 by the Minister of Town and Country Planning of the Advisory Committee for London Regional Planning, and the new Town and Country Planning Act, 1947, which made the county council the town-planning authority. There was also the fact that the garden city company had succeeded in acquiring further land to add to its original purchase. The first was 115 acres at Stanborough (1932), which had been sold to speculators at the original Panshanger auction, who for some years had been using it, or threatening to use it, to the detriment of the company. Then followed the Lockley's estate (1936) to the north (679 acres), the Danesbury estate (1945) also to the north (202 acres), further land in 1946 from Lord Salisbury (556½ acres), an estate at Tewin Water (462¾ acres) in the same year, and a further small part of the Panshanger estate (202½ acres) in 1947. Thus the area in the company's ownership, after deducting sales from the original purchase, was a total of 4,536 acres, to which there should be added land owned by the railway company (131 acres), the area of original county roads (37½ acres), land held by the district council for sewerage disposal (47 acres), and land held by other freeholders (39½ acres), which made a total of 4,791 acres for the garden city area as it stood in 1949.

Following this there is a passage in which the author discusses developments around Welwyn Garden City, some unsatisfactory, including industrial development and unsatisfactory speculative housing in Hatfield criticised by Sir Patrick Abercrombie in his Greater London Report. He recommended to the Advisory Committee for London Regional Planning that the Hatfield factories (apart from de Havilland) should be removed and the town allowed to expand from 9,000 to 22,000 with the creation of two neighbourhood units. Purdom quotes the passage in the Report relating to Welwyn Garden City:

The Welwyn-Hatfield-Welham Green area must be regarded as a single unit for study purposes. . . . . Welwyn Garden City is the obvious centre for planned industrial expansion for the neighbourhood and no case on economic grounds can be made out for spotting it about in Hatfield and Welham Green. Welwyn's central area has the necessary spaciousness to make it the nucleus for a much bigger population and it possesses great possibilities for the reception of both population and industry from London (up to 23,000 persons). An appreciable extension of the industrial area eastwards along the Hertford branch line is proposed sufficient to carry a future population of 60,000 (Welwyn 40,000, Hatfield 20,000, though a number of Hatfield's residents will continue to find work at the aerodrome and in other nearby factories). Its industries are thriving and expanding and can easily turn over to peacetime production. This proposal includes the development of Lockley's Park with two community units. The very greatest care will be needed in fixing the boundary of the industrial and residential area on the east side of the main railway line towards Digswell Water. This is a magnificent valley and building should be kept back to the lines of the footpath running south-east from Digswell Park towards Black Fan. There are several villages on the fringe of the Garden City, such as Old Welwyn, Digswell, and Harmer Green, and the early fixing of a permanent and inviolable green belt is essential. There is no need to expatiate [expand] upon the planning of Welwyn Garden City and its architectural realization.

No fault can be found with this comment except that Sir Patrick did not appear to have considered the extension of the town to the east, and did not object to the company's proposal for the development of Lockley's Park to the north; he allowed the ultimate population to be 40,000. The joint planning committee was prepared to approve this development, accepting 42,500 as the total ultimate population of the town, but the advisory committee rejected all development to the north of the Welwyn-Hertford road, fixing the population at 36,500. The latter figure was approved by the minister in February 1947. This is not easy to justify in the light of Sir Patrick Abercrombie's remark when putting forward his proposals for populations of 60,000 for his proposed new towns that 'Recent research tends towards a somewhat larger unit than Howard proposed.' What Howard proposed for his model was 30,000, plus 2,000 in the agricultural belt. The original Welwyn promoters realized that 50,000 was a better figure and that the site was right for it.

Purdom then discusses the proposed development of Welwyn Garden City to the north of the Mimram (made possible by the company's land acquisitions mentioned above) which was illustrated in the 1947 plan:


(W) Completion of town-plan 1947 for population of 50,000

Louis de Soissons

(click image to enlarge)

Expansion to the north of the Mimram was opposed by Welwyn Rural District Council. Purdom think it would be undesirable. The land should left as part of the towns green belt. Expansion should be to the east. He concludes that, in the light of the Minister's comments, the plan to expand northwards was dead for the time being.

The author then goes on to discuss Lord Desborough's antagonism towards Welwyn Garden City and his regret in auctioning the Panshanger Estate which had brought it into being. In 1938, the urban district council put forward a proposal under the advice of Professor Adshead for the compulsory purchase of land from Lord Desborough (1,330 acres) and Lord Salisbury (334 acres) to the east of the town for housing. The proposal was never carried out.

Purdom points out that the company's problem has always been that there was insufficient land for a population of 50,000. The minister has accepted the committee's proposal (mentioned above) for 36,500. It remained to be discovered what the future would hold now that the county was the town-planning authority.




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Chapter III - Its Shops (W)

My notes on the equivalent chapter (entitled The Shops) in the 1925 book can be reached here (1925 link). The additional notes below are complementary to those notes.

The bulk of this chapter is a repeat, almost verbatim, from the text in the 1925 edition, with the insert of the following two paragraphs:

On several occasions the inhabitants were called together to discuss the working of the stores, when they had the opportunity of making suggestions and offering criticisms and when questions could be put to the stores management. Full advantage was taken of these meetings; there were frank exchanges of opinion, and information people wanted as customers was asked for and provided. Of course, there were faults to be pointed out and shortcomings to be drawn attention to; but in the main the meetings made abundantly clear that the residents were more than satisfied with the service they received. Some people could not see why the stores should not provide what they had been accustomed to in the shops of London and elsewhere, for it was not easy for every one to realize the limitations within which the stores had to operate. But these meetings allowed people to let off steam; and they provided evidence of contact between the organization and the town that was convincing and helpful to both residents and management.

A part of the stores organization to which attention deserves to be drawn is that it was the practice of the management to send a representative weekly to the surrounding towns of St. Albans, Hertford, and Luton to report upon prices and supplies in those towns. If it happened, as it did on some occasions, that the stores prices were higher for articles in current supply than were found in a neighbouring town, the stores prices were immediately reduced. The principle that was sought to be observed was to operate the stores as though the shops of the neighbouring towns were on the spot. This meant constant vigilance; but the policy was carried out thoroughly.

A further six new pages have been added to the end of the chapter. Purdom describes the company's policy of keeping shopping central and not allowing small establishments to operate from homes which would be inadequate and wrongly-sited. He gives the example of a tenant (not named) who started a newsagent from his home. This man did not convert his home into a shop but ran the business from there. Eventually he was given a tenancy for the business in a commercial area. Businesses run from homes (such as taxi firms) were not allowed to put up signs, although professional men were allowed to do so.

The author then gives some interesting facts and figures about Welwyn Stores:

To-day the Welwyn Stores is the largest retail organization in Hertfordshire, with premises on a scale not be found outside the great cities. No town of its size in the country or even of ten times its size has a stores comparable with it. The existing building was opened in 1939. It is not only the largest building in the town and its chief architectural ornament, even in its unfinished state, and not only the centre of the town's social life, for everybody says 'Let us meet at the stores,' but it is a centre for the district. The stores is a place of resort as much as any of the great stores of London, and even more than they, because it is a recognized meeting place irrespective of business.

The first unit occupies a site of 2.9 acres, of which 2 acres are occupied by buildings. Some of these are in the nature of temporary structures. The total floor area is 155,000 square feet, of which 92,000 square feet are selling space, 17,000 square feet basement storage, 35,000 square feet service quarters, staff rooms, etc., and 11,000 square feet offices (including the garden city company's own offices). The building also includes a social club, a masonic suite, and sixty-two service flats.

The industrial and provident society responsible for establishing the stores was converted into a joint stock company in 1929 and the outside shareholders were mostly paid off, the interest in the undertaking being directly retained by the garden city company. At the moment of writing, the issued capital of the stores company is £148,608, to which must be added a bank overdraft of £225,000 and a loan from the parent company of £200,000, a total capital of £573,608. The company estimated that when the enterprise was fully developed a total of one and a half to two million pounds would be employed.

Purdom states that sales by the Stores in 1948 were £1,191,173.

The author makes critical comments about the development of Howardsgate:

The first stores building was a temporary structure, twice extended. It had been intended to place the permanent building on a site at the south corner of Howardsgate and Parkway, but this was changed to the present site on Bridge Road. The building had been projected to include a large arcade for independent shops, but this was not carried out. Instead, Howardsgate has been developed as an area for such shops. This was a good idea; but the scale of the Howardsgate shop buildings has not been maintained, as can be judged from the two bank buildings at the north and south corners of Parkway. Much smaller buildings were allowed than was intended, which has not improved the architectural values of this central highway. The shops, though small, are well planned, with rear access for goods. Consistent treatment of the shop fronts and signs gives dignity to the road, banishing the vulgar individualism of the normal shopping street, something to be sought for in vain even in the best planned towns elsewhere. Here we see indicated the great benefits of shop building and control being in one hand. All were built by a subsidiary company, and let on lease. The upper floors are occupied as offices or service flats. Among the other shops is the post office, built by the department, a pleasant building, but out of scale with the other buildings, which should not have been allowed. Adjoining premises were built and occupied by the gas company, a building even more out of keeping with the style set for the road, and it is difficult to understand why the gas company was not induced to provide a more satisfactory building for its site. This building is also not displeasing in itself, only by reason of its siting is it objectionable. It is true that the gas company's building adjoins a row of single-storey shops, built in a moment of economic panic; but these shops are intended to be completed at some time by building over them.

Purdom concludes with some paragraphs discussing the advantages and disadvantages of the special conditions of trading in Welwyn Garden City where freedom has been curtailed with the aim of providing the best service for the community.




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Chapter IV - Its Industries (W)

My notes on the equivalent chapter (entitled Industries) in the 1925 book can be reached here (1925 link). The additional notes below are complementary to those notes.

This chapter has been much expanded - from six to twenty pages - reflecting the great expansion of industry which had occurred in Welwyn Garden City between 1925 and 1949.


(W) Factory area: showing developnent to 1948

(click image to enlarge)

Purdom gives a table showing the number of insured employees in the town in February 1939:

  Building Operatives Other Employment Total
Men 1,050 3,945 4,995
Boys 43 432 475
Women 5 1,029 1,034
Girls 2 407 409
  ------ ------ ------
Totals 1,100 5,813 6,913

In the 1925 edition, Purdom gave a list of companies in the town which included only 6 names. The new list (1948) now contains 63 firms:

Agricultural Implements: John Wallace & Sons Ltd.
Brickworks: Herts Gravel & Brickworks Ltd.
Corsets: Barclay Corsets Ltd.
Costumes and Dresses: Cresta Silks Ltd.
Engineering: Aranol Ltd.
Arrow Ltd.
Aviation Developments Ltd.
Brookside Engineers Ltd.
Dawnays Ltd.
Devices Ltd.
General Stampers Ltd.
Infra-red Development Co. Ltd.
Lacre Lorries Ltd.
Lincoln Electric Co. Ltd.
Neosid Ltd.
Pocklington & Johnson
Welwyn Electrical Laboratories Ltd.
Welwyn Engineering Co. Ltd.
Welwyn Foundry Co. Ltd.
Welwyn Metal Products Ltd.
Westover (Engineering) Ltd.
Film Studios: Associated British Picture Corporation Ltd.
Food Products: Atomised Food Products Ltd.
Bickiepegs Ltd.
Crown Macaroni Co.
Danish Bacon Co. Ltd.
Shredded Wheat Co. Ltd.
Furniture and Toys: Welwyn Woodworkers Ltd.
Glues etc.: British Glues & Chemicals Ltd.
Grinding Wheels and other Abrasives: Norton Grinding Wheel Co. Ltd.
Hair Brushes: Denman Products Ltd.
Heating Engineers: James Coonibe & Sons Ltd.
Laboratories: British Rubber Producers' Research Association.
Laminated interior Building Blocks: Hitchins Assembled Interiors Ltd.
Lead Pipes and Sheets: British Lead Mills Ltd.
Manufacturing Chemists: Akis Chemical Co. Ltd.
Bourne Chemical Industries Ltd.
Carnegie Chemicals (Welwyn) Ltd.
Herts Pharmaceuticals Ltd.
Roche Products Ltd.
Stafford-Miller Ltd.
Moulded Products: O. & M. Kleeman Ltd.
Moulding Powders for the Plastic Industry: I.C.I. Ltd. (Plastics Division)
Optical Instruments: The Watson-Baker Co. Ltd.
Paints, Varnishes: Gerald Carter & Co. Ltd.
Plastics: Plastra Components Ltd.
Printers: Broadwater Press Ltd.
Chiswick Press Ltd.
Process Blocks: Kestron Ltd.
Radio and Television: Murphy Radio Ltd.
Sandpaper, etc.: B.C.R. Factories Ltd.
Scrapers: Skarsten Manufacturing Co. Ltd.
Seed-sorting Machinery: Simplex Seed-Sorters Ltd.
Strings and Cords, etc.: Alba Strings Ltd.
Sweets: J. W. Bindley & Co. Ltd.
A. Buchanan & Sons Ltd.
Theatrical Accessories: Eylure Ltd.
Upholsterers, etc.: Household Services Ltd.
Vitreous Enamels: Ferramic Industries Ltd.
Vulcanite Products: Barnet Comb Co. Ltd.
E R. Holloway Ltd.
Lustrac Plastics Ltd.
Waterproofers, etc.: Catomance Ltd.

Purdom put to manufacturers the same questionnaire he had applied at Letchworth asking: (1) Reason for coming to Welwyn Garden City ? (2) Has your experience at Welwyn Garden City as an industrial centre been satisfactory ? (3) Can you indicate the advantages you have found in the town as an industrial centre ? (4) What are the improvements required in the town from an industrialist's point of view ? The author reproduces seven pages of actual replies given by named firms. He summarizes the findings of the survey as follows:

It will be observed that most firms offer their remarks upon the advantages of the town with qualifications, and that what the drawbacks amount to apart from the need expressed for a higher form of industrial organization are: (a) rail facilities are inadequate, (b) facilities for entertainment and recreation are insufficient, (c) more houses are required, and (d) the town is not large enough. The fact that the town has no priority for industrial building is acutely felt, and is difficult to understand. When the inquiry was made, one manufacturer was in process of leaving the town for the north of England because he could not get the larger manufacturing space he needed. By the side of this fact, there is the absence of encouragement for house building, so that the demands for additional workers cannot be met. No doubt the building difficulties will at some time be overcome, but at present they press heavily upon all industrialists who wish to expand, and are highly discouraging. It has to be recorded that since the beginning of the war when factory building became dependent upon Government permission, up to the time of writing, there has been no official disposition to recognize the position of Welwyn Garden City in industrial planning or to provide it with facilities. The same may be said of Letchworth.

The author continues with a description of the erection of sectional factories to let, the total area of which by 1941 had reached 492,485 square feet. The factories were built in blocks of three or four sections, initially without partitions which were built once the units were let according to the requirements of the occupant. Two plans for sectional factories are given.


(W) A group of three sectional factories so designed as to be used
separately or as a whole (1937)

(click image to enlarge)


(W) Lay-out of a group of eighteen sectional factories in Woodfield Road (1937)

(click image to enlarge)

The author concludes the chapter with an account of the building industry in the town, especially Welwyn Builders Ltd and its decision in 1945 to create a permanent staff.




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Chapter V - Its Public Services (W)

My notes on the equivalent chapter (entitled Public Services) in the 1925 book can be reached here (1925 link). The additional notes below are complementary to those notes.

The text for this chapter begins with largely unaltered text from the 1925 edition. The author has introduced some new engineering plans showing the construction of carriageways and services. The one below is for a typical 50 foot roadway.

(W) Typical cross-section of 50 foot road

This is just one of 4 cross-sections on the page

(click image to enlarge)

The sewer system was taken over by the council in 1932. The length of sewers laid by 1947 was approximately 44,000 linear yards (foul-water) and 32,000 (surface water), the comparable figures in 1925 being 3,760 and 2,990. The water supply was handed over to the council at the same time as the sewerage system. The combined gas companies of the town were absorbed by the Watford and St Albans Gas Company.

In describing the electricity supply for the town, Purdom gives a table for supply and consumption which shows that by 1947, 64¾ miles of cable had been laid, and in that year over 32 million units of power were sold to 4,908 customers. Of these customers, 310 were industrial or commercial, and they consumed over half the power. Between 1929 and 1947, the consumption per domestic user rose from 640 to 3,340 units per annum, while the average price per unit fell from 2.32 pence to 0.95 pence.

The author relates that the building of the new main line station, replacing the halt on the Luton branch line ,greatly improved the rail service to London with the change at Hatfield no longer being necessary. Fast trains took 27 minutes to London and 23 minutes from London. However, according to Purdom, since the war the service has deteriorated considerably. He mentions that an internal town bus service has just started (June 1948).




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Chapter VI - Its Agriculture (W)

My notes on the equivalent chapter (entitled Agriculture) in the 1925 book can be reached here (1925 link). The additional notes below are complementary to those notes.

The author brings up to date the story of the towns milk supply:

Later, the loose milk was replaced by bottled milk, and when the guild was wound up, and milk supplies were obtained from farmers in the usual way, the stores established a system of testing and grading the milk received, and by this means and the payment of bonuses based on content and purity an attempt was made to establish a clean milk supply. The stores dairy had its own laboratory for the purpose of continuous tests, and by careful super vision of handling in distribution it was intended to avoid pasteurization. The attempt lasted until after 1928, but no doubt involving too much responsibility it was abandoned, and a pasteurizing system was installed. Of course, dairymen from the surrounding farms and towns had nothing to binder them except distance from supplying milk to the town direct, and this competition had to be met. When the branch of the co-operative society was opened it also established a milk supply. It cannot be said that the original aims of those who worked to start the town's milk supply have been fulfilled; for the town now submits to pasteurized milk, though 'certified' milk is still, of course, obtainable.

With much disappointment the agricultural guild was wound up in the wake of the agricultural depression of the late 1920s. The land was re-let to tenant farmers.




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Chapter VII - Its Finance (W)

My notes on the equivalent chapter (entitled Finance) in the 1925 book can be reached here (1925 link). The additional notes below are complementary to those notes.

The account in this chapter begins by following closely the text from the 1925 edition. Purdom has inserted a short paragraph relating how the directors dealt with the shortfall in subscriptions following the original May 1920 prospectus:

To give support to the undertaking under the situation that arose, the directors personally, with one or two abstentions, subscribed for £100,000 shares, paying a special application amount of one shilling a share, the balance to be called up only on a winding up of the company. Some of these shares were afterwards fully subscribed and transferred to other holders, and all were got rid of under the schema of arrangement already referred to. By subscribing for these shares, the board declared its belief in the enterprise; it was a bold and might have proved a foolhardy action, for the liability was heavy, and there was no possibility of personal advantage accruing to those who undertook it.

Regarding the loans applied for in 1921 onwards from the Public Works Loan Commissioners, the author gives more detail, describing how the loans were difficult to obtain and acted to the detriment of the company later on.

The tables of accounting figures given are much expanded from the 1925 edition and now occupy six pages. The tables are:

  The Capital Position of the Company from Year to Year (1921-1947)
  Expenditure by the Company on Land, Buildings, Drainage and Highways (1921-1947)
  Expenditure of the Company on General Development and Cost of Raising Capital (1921-1935)
  Expenditure on the Electricity Supply (1921-1947)
  Receipts from Rents and other Sources (1921-1948)
  Yearly Balances on the Revenue Account (1921-1948)
  Premiums Received on Leases, Sales of Land, etc. (1921-1948)

After the accounting tables, Purdom inserts three new pages. The subject matter concerns the change in accounting methods dating from 1929/1930, and the restructuring of the company in 1932 and again in 1934:

The slowness of development did, in fact, create such a situation [failure to make income overtake interest and other charges], and, as will have been noted from the preceding tables, the company changed the form of the accounts in 1930, for the year ending 1929, in an attempt to deal with it. What was done, however, was no more than to disguise the position that had then arisen. The board in that year found it impossible to discriminate between revenue and capital expenditure and gave up the attempt. Had the board continued to apply the principles that had previously been recognized, it would have found that its revenues had declined by £13,521 over the previous year's figures (or more than 39 per cent) and that the net result on the general revenue and expenditure account was an adverse balance of £15,172 in place of a profit of £5,238. There is no need at this date to describe how this occurred or the events that gave rise to it. The fact is that the undertaking was suffering under a situation that was too much for those responsible, and that loss of confidence brought about weak management. The following year another change was made in the presentation of the accounts, so that the revenue results could not be compared even with the previous year; but, in fact, on the same basis as for 1927 and earlier, there was an adverse balance for the year of £11,798. It was extraordinarily difficult to ascertain the position because of the ambiguity of the accounts, so that the shareholders had the facts hidden from them, and to what extent they were known to the board may be doubted.

After another year of uncertainty, the board was forced to face a capital reconstruction, when application was made to the High Court of Justice for permission to convert the debentures, debenture bonds, and debenture stock into holdings of new 6 per cent debenture stock and new 7 per cent income stock in varying proportions. Thus out of a total of £683,935 borrowed money, £287,193 was converted into a new interest-bearing security and £396,742 was made into income stock entitled to receive a return only out of the surplus revenues of the company. This meant a saving of annual interest of approximately £25,000.

However, the company's capital resources were hopelessly constricted by the terms on which the Government loans had been granted, for they were secured upon the whole of the freehold land, developed and undeveloped, and the water undertaking. In 1932, therefore, an obvious financial reconstruction was embarked upon: the company succeeded in selling the sewerage works and main sewers to the local authority, also the water undertaking (all with the advice of the Ministry of Health), and, with the proceeds, the loan from the Public Works Loan Board was reduced approximately to £210,000. As it was found possible to raise from new trustee mortgages a total of £250,000 on the security of the ground-rents alone, the Government loan was completely paid off, and the remaining land was freed. Furthermore, the heavy annuities payable to the Public Works Loan Board on an interest rate varying between 4¾ and 5 per cent were replaced by straightforward interest of 4½ per cent, coupled with a limited sinking fund for a period of five years.

All this was a great financial relief, but it was not sufficient, for the company had been brought so low that in another two years it had to suffer a much more drastic reconstruction in which the shareholders were involved, and two subsidiary concerns were amalgamated with the company. The highly complicated scheme of arrangement was sanctioned by the High Court of Justice on 24th July 1934 and became operative the following 29th September, and deserves to be recorded as a successful financial operation of great benefit to the undertaking. Under it, however, the shareholders lost 18s. out of each £1 of their shareholding, and the shares on which one shilling only had been paid, amounting to a nominal amount of £93,500, were cancelled, so that the share capital was reduced from a paid-up total of £124,239 to £11,956. The nominal amount of the share capital was at the same time increased to £537,000. Out of this capital the holders of the debenture stock were given shares to the amount of their holdings, and the holders of the income stock (who had not received any return) were given £40 shares for every £100 of their stock; this meant a loss of capital of £238,044. Under the amalgamation scheme, which was part of the arrangement, £125,000 housing bonds, issued by the Welwyn Public Utility Society Ltd. and guaranteed by the company, were converted into £62,500 shares in the company, and £76,525 cumulative income stock of the New Town Trust Ltd. was converted into £15,305 shares in the company; also the shareholders in the trust received a £1 share in the company for every £20 shares of the trust. Though the company took over responsibility for the New Town Trust, its capital was not in fact the company's, and the losses suffered by the trust, though severe, were no direct concern of the company's, though much regretted. The company's own capital written off under this arrangement amounted to £412,827, to which should be added £6,448 written off the shares in Welwyn Stores in 1929, when that concern was reconstructed by the company for its own purposes, making a total of £419,375 that was lost.

As part of the arrangement outlined above the memorandum and articles of the company were amended, removing the limitation of dividend to which the share capital was entitled, so that the shareholders were given the full equity in the company, the garden city and its inhabitants being excluded from any interest in the company or its profits. The right of appointment of civic directors by the urban district council was at the same time ended.

Preliminary to the arrangement a consultative committee of most of the larger share holders had been formed and it was agreed that the board should be reduced to six members, of whom three should be new members nominated by the committee, with three of the old members, one of the existing board becoming general manager with no seat on the board, the others resigning. Thus a new board took charge of the undertaking, without civic directors, and the company was brought as much within the category of ordinary joint stock enterprises as was possible.

The financial operations detailed above were the work of the company's financial secretary, J. F. Eccles, who six months after the final court order became general manager on the reorganization of the staff, and in 1945 was made managing director in recognition of his services, for it was his skill that had saved the company when it was about to founder.

The effects of the various changes that took place in the undertaking from 1928 onwards are to be followed to some extent in the financial statements set out in the tables on preceding pages. They do not tell the full story, and much remains to be explained; but in an undertaking such as that of this garden city company, where almost every one was working without precedents, and where there was little to guide the most experienced directing and administrative minds, the misunderstandings and conflicts of wills that arose are not to be regarded as surprising. The undertaking did, however, pull itself out of its major difficulties. A major element in the whole affair was the deplorable national situation, which partly explains the events of 1928, and certainly played a large part in what followed. The company was weakened by ten years of steady deflation and three years of severe economic depression. The deep depression in all business between 1930 and 1933 fell heavily upon the town. Many employees in local industry lost their work, and more than a few residents who worked in London also got out of employment. The result was that from 300 to 400 houses became empty in about nine months. Property values tumbled by 20 to 40 per cent and scarcely one new business could be persuaded to start up. It was without doubt a very difficult time.

The reconstruction of 1934 brought about the possibility of paying a dividend on the share capital, and in 1936 a first dividend of 2 per cent was declared. In 1937 the amount was 3 per cent, in 1938 4 per cent, and in 1939 5 per cent. No dividends were paid in 1940 and 1941, but in 1942 a dividend of 2 per cent was paid, for each of the next four years 5 per cent, in 1947 and 1948 6 per cent. There were sufficient profits to have justified the maintenance of the dividend during the early war years; but the board decided to play for safety in view of war conditions and the large bank overdrafts to which the company was committed arising out of the extensive programmes carried out in 1938 and 1939.

After this insertion, the text returns to that in the 1925 following it with only minor revisions of wording. Towards the end Purdom adds a paragraph about the uncertainty caused by the element within the 1947 Town and Country Planning Act concerning nationalization of increments in land value by the imposition of a development charge. He speculates on the amount that the compensation will be:

As the garden city company is to pass out of existence there is no need to consider its finance any further except for one point. Though the real interest of the subject lies in the record of the early stages of the undertaking, there is special interest in the answer to be given to the question to what extent the values created by the company will receive recognition in the amount of compensation proposed to be paid by the Government. That those values were very large there can be no doubt, neither can it be doubted that they were the company's creation. As our examination has shown, they were brought into existence by sacrificing immediate profit in the early stages and by the exercise of patience and foresight due to the perception that those values were the wealth of the future town.




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Chapter VIII - Conclusion (W)

My notes on the equivalent chapter (with the same title) in the 1925 book can be reached here (1925 link). The additional notes below are complementary to those notes.

This chapter has been completely rewritten and expanded from four pages to twenty. More than half of this new material concerns the decision in 1947 by the Minister of Town and Country Planning to take over the town under the New Towns Act, 1946.

The author begins by pointing out that from the outset that considerable capital would be required to develop the town and that there was no certainty that the revenue would meet the charges. He opines that the faith of the promoters was justified in that the enterprise was economically sound. The financial distresses described in the previous chapter were borne by a company which was essentially healthy. The original plan has been modified in the course of development, some of these changes for the good, others not.

In the concluding part of this book we shall apply what has been learned at Welwyn Garden City as well as at Letchworth in an endeavour to suggest methods by which future garden cities may be built, and in particular how the new town programme of the Government may be carried out. The value of Welwyn Garden City is that of an object-lesson in modern town-building, and the study of the place is to be undertaken from that point of view . . . . . .

The original board of directors of the Welwyn company was brought together mainly by Ebenezer Howard himself, to some extent in consultation, but sometimes on his own account without reference to any one else, which explains its composition. Among its members were men of national repute. There was Sir Theodore G. Chambers, well known in connection with war savings and a surveyor of distinction, Walter H. Layton (now Lord Layton), a distinguished economist, Lt.-Col. Francis E. Fremantle (after wards Sir Francis, and M.P. for St. Albans), Sir John Mann, a prominent accountant, Samuel Smethurst, a successful builder, J. R. Farquharson, an industrialist, with experience of cottage building and industry at Letchworth, R. L. Reiss, a housing expert, Bolton Smart, a director of the Letchworth scheme, Ebenezer Howard himself, and the present writer, who was already associated with Howard. As at Letchworth, after the initial impetus, Howard's influence was small.

The author pays tribute to the original board members - particularly Chambers who joined the board in November 1919 and who "threw himself wholeheartedly into overcoming the difficulties that beset the scheme . . . . . He was a visionary and idealist, but also a man of sound common sense . . . . . It is only a recognition of plain fact to say that Welwyn garden City is his creation in a sense that does not apply to any other man . . . . ."

The following passages have particular interest with regard to Purdom's own contribution which ended abruptly in 1928:

There was no cut-and-dried scheme for the town's development. It had to be worked out. The board decided to set up secretarial, accountancy, estate agency, architectural, and engineering departments, and engaged men to take charge of them, and it formed various committees of its own: finance, development, building, and agricultural. For a time there was some confusion, and cross purposes showed themselves, due to the amount of work involved and the absence of co-ordination. The board attempted to get out of its difficulties by appointing the chairman on a full-time basis to take charge of general administration, and another member of the board as a full-time finance director [Purdom himself] to be responsible for financial matters and the various businesses already in their incipient stages. Under this system of joint administrative control, with the executive officers responsible to one or other of the two directors, the garden city was established and given form. Although the system was not an ideal one, it worked well, thanks to the understanding between the two directors throughout the crucial first seven years. The committees of the board were replaced by a single general purposes committee; but the restaurant company, the stores, and the builders had their separate boards. As time proved, the scheme of administration had weaknesses, but it had the great advantages of harnessing creative energy, and providing for effective action at a time when it was essential. Undoubtedly an efficient organization was created, with results that were demonstrated in the substantial basis that was laid, and in the active spirit of co-operation and family feeling that the organization enjoyed. There was free discussion of problems, and success in resolving conflicts, so that every one was enabled, if he would, to make his maximum contribution. The result was that the great difficulties that were continually being faced were overcome, the town grew, and, except for the slowness of its growth, in a manner that gave satisfaction to those who were working for it.

The weakness of the organization was that the board itself was never really united even on major policy, and in minor matters had acute differences. These were partly conflicts of personality; they partly arose, too, out of the financial predicaments that had constantly to be faced; but mainly they were caused by the semi-political nature of the enterprise. There is no need to enlarge upon the matter; it was serious, and though the balance was maintained over a period of years, the time came when the board became so weak in composition that the balance was upset, and in 1928 the original organization was destroyed.

This involved all the activities of the company. The chairman ceased to hold his administrative position, the finance directorate was abolished, and all the departments of the company and the various businesses were affected. Though the composition of the board was altered, it was not strengthened except in number, and the consequences are to be seen in the financial reconstructions that took place in 1931 and 1934. Undoubtedly there were other factors, as we have mentioned in the previous chapter, and it may be that some form of reconstruction could not anyhow have been avoided, but it is true that not until 1935 was there any restoration of an integrated working organization on something like the pattern of the original one . . . . . .

The original organization of Welwyn Garden City had the merits . . . . . and was an efficient working organism. The board acted through two full-time directors, who functioned as directors in control of the managers, but did not themselves function as managers, and their own functions were interchangeable. Although there might have been something to be said for changes in the persons holding the directing positions, for no one should carry out such functions for more than a limited time, and although some change in working was probably desirable, the breakdown and scrapping of the organization that has been referred to had ill effects.

There can be no doubt that some of the major mistakes of the company directly arose out of them, including the decision to curtail the width of Parkway, the failure of development in Howardsgate, and the creation of independent monopolies in public- houses and cinemas. These were all matters that affected the company in a vital sense, and have had a continuing effect. Possibly the most dramatic outcome of the change brought about by the financial reconstruction of 1934 was that the company was forced to cancel the limited dividend basis on which it was formed and to take away the interest granted to the town in its surplus profits.

The author discusses the relation between the two garden cities - Letchworth and Welwyn. Assistance from two directors of the Letchworth company enabled Howard to make the bid for the Welwyn land, but apart from that there was little interest in the new scheme. There was some concern that Welwyn might divert residents and industry which would otherwise have gone to Letchworth. In the event there was no detrimental effect but there was no co-operation. A few Letchworth residents, garden city idealists among them, moved to Welwyn.

The chapter continues with Purdom relating the dramatic changes which began in 1947. In October of that year, the Minister of Town and Country Planning (Lewis Silkin M.P.) wrote to Welwyn Garden City Urban District Council information them that he had decided to take over Welwyn Garden City under the New Towns Act, 1946. The council had known this was coming since January 1947. On the 6th June the chairman (Chambers) had written a letter to the Minister:

In the first place, as regards development policy, we are entirely in accord with your desire that it should fall into line with the general plan for the movement of population from the London area to New Towns in general. Our arrangements and undertakings with the Board of Trade, to which we have been working during the past two or three years, bear out our intentions, and the speeches which I have made at our annual general meetings during the last two or three years, copies of which I enclose, also indicate the extent to which we regard ourselves as being in general conformity with your current policy in regard to these towns.

With the new town-planning arrangements . . . . the details of our development will presumably come under the control of the Herts County Council, but we should be more than willing to give any necessary undertakings to submit directly to your ministry all our plans for the development of the remainder of the land required for the complete town so that the development policy ultimately acted upon would be the result of general accord between the county planning authority, your ministry, and ourselves.

As regards the second of your objectives, my board are prepared to agree to enter into immediate undertakings to the following effect:

(a) That when the development of the town is substantially completed (say 95 per cent of the urban area developed and leased) the company will at any time thereafter, on the request of the Minister of Town and Country Planning, sell to the local authority or any other public authority designated for the purpose, the whole of the freehold land required for the town of 36,000 population (including all open spaces) on terms providing for an independent valuation.

(b) That, at the same time, if the minister also at that date so desires, the company would arrange for the sale to the same public authority of all the weekly rented houses owned by the company or its subsidiary housing association Welwyn Country Houses Ltd. at an appropriate independent valuation. (These are the only two undertakings which own or are likely to own in the future weekly rented houses.)

(c) That, in the meantime, the company will take steps as and when legally possible, having regard to existing mortgage arrangements and other similar contracts, to convert all leases of land held by any of its subsidiary or associated undertakings to terms of ninety-nine years wherever the existing leases provide for a longer period, thus conforming to the provisions of the New Towns Act, 1946.

The board hope that these proposals will show the extent to which our general aims coincide with yours, while still permitting the company to go forward to the completion of the work which it undertook many years ago on a basis which we believe to be entirely consistent with the policy of the Government.

The Minister's reply of 13th August 1947 said " . . . . I still feel that the proposals put forward, generous though they are from the point of view of the company, leave too many objections outstanding for me to be able to accept them." On 5th and 6th November, he addressed a public meeting in Welwyn Garden City in which he said:

I have the greatest admiration for the excellent pioneering work of the Welwyn Garden City Company. I am aware of the excellent work they have done. Without the public-spirited work over a generation of those who have had control of the affairs of the company there would be no new towns movement to-day. They have blazed the trail and shown the way . . . . . They have an experienced body of directors who thoroughly understand their task. Many of them have given their lives to the job. But the company would not be the right instrument for continuing the task . . . . .

This company is answerable only to its shareholders and to no one else. It will be answerable only to people with financial interests . . . . . The company would not only be in a position to determine the character of the town when its development is completed, but it would also determine the character of the town while it is being constructed. It would be just what the company would like and not what the people would like. This is opposed to any sense of democracy.

Purdom writes that the speech was well received by the towns people. Matters raised would be dealt with by the development corporation. In the Minister's scheme, Hatfield and Welwyn Garden City would be treated in relation to one another, each having its own development corporation but with the same governors. Part of the Minister's memorandum accompanying the Draft Designation Order of January 1948 is quoted:

There is, however, a special factor in this town, namely the existence of the garden city company. The company had planned to carry through the expansion of the town, and it may be that they could have found the resources to do it.

They have an experienced body of directors and a skilled staff, and they have already done excellent pioneering work in the field of new town development.

Nevertheless it seems to the minister that the time has come when the private company should be replaced by a public body.

It has already been explained that the expansion of Welwyn Garden City is an integral part of the Greater London Plan.

The creation of new towns and the expansion of existing towns in the outer country ring on the one hand, and decentralization from the overcrowded areas of London on the other, are two complementary aspects of the same policy.

A private company concerned only with expansion, and having no responsibilities for decentralization, could hardly be expected to ensure the complete co-ordination of these two aspects in the same way as they would be ensured by a public corporation created by the minister and acting in accordance with his general directions.

The minister, in any event, thinks it undesirable that a private company, however public-spirited, should, by virtue of its ownership of most of the land and buildings, be in a position to determine the character of a whole town and the living conditions of the majority of its inhabitants.

Such power, if it is to be vested in one hand, should, it seems to him, be vested not in a private concern, but in a body representing the people.

If a town is to be in one ownership, it should be in the ownership of the people of the town. This will be the position if the development is carried out under the New Towns Act, since the Act provides that when the minister is satisfied that the purposes for which a development corporation was established have been substantially achieved, he may, with the consent of the Treasury, provide for the transfer of the undertaking to the local authority within whose area the new town is situated.

The uncertainty in which the company was allowed to remain caused the directors to call an extraordinary general meeting of the shareholders on 6th February 1948, at which approval was given to the serving of notice of opposition to the minister's order, and the directors were authorized 'to offer the most strenuous opposition' to it at the public inquiry, unless the minister gave undertakings that the shareholders would be equitably treated. There were further resolutions authorizing the directors in negotiating with the minister to get an undertaking that the company's land and buildings to be acquired should be taken over immediately, and that should the negotiations prove satisfactory the directors should take the necessary steps to reconstruct the business remaining, and by implication, to liquidate the company.

The Urban District Council approved the plan completely. Purdom writes that the reasons were worries about expenditure on drainage, and tensions which had developed between the council and the company. The public enquiry was held on 22nd and 23rd August. There were twenty objections from the company, the urban and rural district councils, Hatfield R.D.C., Lee Conservancy Catchment Board, Chamber of Commerce, Hatfield Communist Party, Panshanger estates, and four commercial firms. At the beginning of the enquiry the following statement was made on behalf on the Minister:

We sent a letter to the company on 19th March informing them that the ministry was willing to consider an immediate purchase. In the letter we told the company that they could dismiss from their minds the fear that if and when a New Town Corporation is set up they may be left with holdings they no longer want, or that there is any idea that they should continue in the area sharing with the new corporation the responsibilities of a ground landlord or coming between the corporation and bodies and persons holding subordinate interests.

I want to emphasize that the designation of land does not mean that all the land will be built on. The minister has made it plain that a green belt will intervene between Welwyn Garden City and Hatfield. The plans of the corporation will be made public as they go on, and will be subject to public comment and criticism. I can give an assurance that if the development corporations are established they will from time to time consult the people in the areas concerned.

The company's evidence consisted mainly of a long statement by Sir Theodore Chambers part of which is quoted:

The company had shown a complete ability both technically and financially to finish the development of Welwyn Garden City in accordance with the most modern principles of town development, and to do so with the fullest possible regard to the general public interest . . . . .

I cannot believe that it was the intention of Parliament that the New Towns Act should be used to destroy the organization that has been established for so many years, and is still capable of carrying on successfully the development of Welwyn Garden City, itself the very object lesson on which the whole conception of the new towns policy has been based. To deprive those who have carried the town to its present stage of what is almost, from one point of view, their birthright is an injustice of a high order. Personally, I cannot avoid the feeling that the minister, in his memorandum, has, no doubt unwittingly, misrepresented the situation. I regret that in his speech to a meeting in the town, and at his conferences with the local authorities, he failed to make public the offer which the company made through me in June last.

This offer indicated our willingness to meet present-day political requirements and to show, as far as we could, the extent to which we regarded our work as far more than that of a business undertaking and much more in the nature of a public responsibility. If the company had merely been concerned with the financial results of its business the town to-day would have been very different, and I personally take great exception to the allegations implied in the minister's comments and by others less responsible that there is any change likely, now or at any time in the future, in the sense of public responsibility towards the company's work on the part of those associated with it . . . . .

I must now briefly refer to the general question of the equitable treatment of the shareholders on the acquisition of the assets by the development corporation. The shareholders have not only temporarily given up rights to half a million pounds in consequence of the reconstruction in 1934, but have suffered a deficiency of interest during the last twenty-eight years amounting to not less than three-quarters of million pounds. It is difficult at this date to say whether on the completion of the town the whole of this deficiency would have been made good by the crystallization of the ultimate values of the land, but it is quite certain that an appreciable proportion would have been produced. However, the whole potentiality of securing a reasonable return on the expenditure will be entirely removed by the appointment of a development corporation, which, while taking over the whole of the unleased land, will leave the shareholders with a mere claim against the Central Land Fund for that proportion of the values likely to be assessed as representing present-day development rights.

The initiation of the present proposals has thrown a bone of political contention into the affairs of the town which will certainly do the future of the town no good in itself, but which has already irreparably damaged the spirit in which the town approached the problem of its future. I may, perhaps, be permitted to express my profound regret that this act so lacking in statesmanship should have been taken with such little prior thought. It has also to be admitted that the strenuous opposition of the company over a long period of time would also not be helpful to the future of the town. The shareholders, therefore, would have a natural reluctance to embark upon this course of action despite their strong view that the proposed change is both unjust and unnecessary . . . . .

Despite all the assurances which we may receive we are nevertheless faced with the destruction of a business and an organization in which we have taken great pride, both on account of its efficiency and also on account of the value of its service to the people of this country. I say without any hesitation at all that the case for carrying out this proposal does not exist and never has existed, and that the proposal, particularly in the stage which has now been reached, is more unjust even than it is unnecessary. I am equally convinced that if Parliament could have envisaged what has now arisen in our case, far greater safeguards would have been introduced into the New Towns Act, 1946. But the die has been cast, and we can only maintain our case for the equitable treatment of all those affected by the present proposal . . . . .

May I now, Mr. Inspector, address to you a few final words on this matter. . . . I would wish you to take note that in my opinion, from the point of view of Welwyn Garden City, compared with what might have arisen if the company had continued its work with the willing co-operation of every one, the new proposal may well prove a hazardous adventure. Scarcely any one will benefit by the change, whilst many will suffer some distress and even hardship. The reasons which have been given for it by the minister are both misleading and altogether inadequate, and I am bound to warn you that we, for our part, despite the goodwill that we have towards producing a result out of this present debacle which will not injure the future of Welwyn Garden City, would take no responsibility for the consequences if the proposal were to be pursued with no regard to the justice of our position. These consequences, whilst incalculable, could not, in my view, in the unfortunate circumstances be otherwise than mischievous in the highest degree.

Purdom quotes from the Minister's letter replying to the company's objections:

The minister has given the most careful consideration to the representations of the Welwyn Garden City Company. He recognizes fully the company's efforts in bringing the town to its present state of development, and that in carrying out this work they have displayed a commendable sense of public duty and responsibility.

He also recognizes the willingness they have expressed to do all in their power to develop the town further in accordance with the Government's policy for the decentralization of population and industry from London; and has taken into account the offer made to transfer the whole of the company's freehold interests in the town to the local authority, or to some other public authority designated for the purpose, as soon as the task of development is finished.

While giving full weight to these assurances, the minister cannot ignore what in his view constitutes a fundamental difficulty, namely, that the duty of a private company is not and cannot be the same as the duty of a public corporation.

A company must have regard to the interests of its shareholders. A public corporation has no interests except those of the public.

The proposal for Welwyn Garden City is that there should be a major expansion carried through as part of the decentralization of London as quickly as is reasonably possible, and it seems to the minister that it must be right to use the machinery of the New Towns Act, thus ensuring that the expansion is carried through in accordance with his directions, rather than to rely on the goodwill of a company which has no such obligation.

Having reached this conclusion, the minister accepts that it would be impracticable for the company to function side by side with a development corporation; such an arrangement would, he agrees, give rise to all the undesirable features of dual control to which attention was drawn on behalf of the company at the inquiry.

He is therefore, as has already been stated, prepared in principle to arrange for a comprehensive and immediate purchase, either by the development corporation, or partly by the corporation and partly by the Welwyn Garden City Urban District Council, of all those holdings of which the company wish to dispose.

The author then discusses the financial injury to the company in respect of the valuation of the undeveloped land in the estate. According to the Town and Country Planning act 1947, land would be purchased at its "present use value". It was unclear what this would mean. It might mean land with high locked-up value created by the company could be valued as nil. The company would need to claim from the Central Land Board for compensation.

The order creating the development corporation was duly made by the minister on 20th May 1948. Following his usual practice, the minister had appointed in the previous February an 'advisory committee' on the proposal to establish the two new towns. This committee consisted of the chairmen of both district councils, one other member of each of the two councils, the clerk to the Hertfordshire County Council, two members of the London County Council, and a chairman who was a director of the Co-operative Wholesale Society. In due course, on 16th June, the development corporation was set up; it included the members of the advisory committee, with the addition of one of the directors of Welwyn Garden City Ltd., who was made vice-chairman. It is to be recorded that the corporation thus became predominately Labour in composition, which is not an inherent objection to it, in the opinion of the present writer, who is not however a member of the party, but it can hardly be said to have been justified in this instance.

A curious incident occurred a week after the inquiry, when a candidate at the impending district council election discovered from a search of the council's minutes that the council had passed a secret resolution in September 1946 asking the minister to appoint a development corporation under the New Towns Act that had become law the previous month. This information, which must have been known not only to members of the council but to others, had been kept from the public and the company, and no reference had been made to it in the subsequent discussions. Why the resolution was kept secret has not been explained; it has raised more than one question, and to none has an answer been given.

The area subject to the designation order was decided upon by the minister prior to the setting up of the development corporation. Allowing for adjustments following the inquiry the area is 4,230 acres, of which 3,143 acres are in the Welwyn Garden City estate, and 1,087 acres are in other ownerships. The whole of the garden city company's estate is, therefore, not included, in particular the land to the north of the Welwyn-Hertford road; the company will be left with this land. On the east the boundary extends beyond the company's area but does not go so far as the boundary of the land the urban district council desired to purchase in 1938 to extend the town. On the west the company's boundary is followed, and on the south a rather larger area is included. It is difficult to understand the reasons for the boundaries, especially on the east where more land should have been included, at least as far as Panshanger Park.

A plan showing the boundaries of the two new towns as designated by the 1948 order is included in the book.


(W) Map showing the Designated Areas for the New Towns of Welwyn Garden City
and Hatfield under the Designation Order 1948

(click image to enlarge)

Purdom adds a short note at the end of the chapter brining the situation up to March 1949 when the company announced that agreement had been reached on valuation. The agreed purchase price was £2,800,000 and "the company has adopted the figure of £500,000 as the minimum amount which the company in equity ought ultimately to receive". [I am not sure of the significance of these two figures - A.C.] The company was left in ownership of Welwyn Stores Ltd and Welwyn Builders Ltd and other subsidiaries for which a holding company Howardsgate Trust Ltd was to be formed with share capital of £1,000,000.




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Part IV - The Practical Problems of Building New Towns

When preparing for the notes for the 1925 edition of this book (1925 link), I had run out of steam when I reached Part IV and wrote very little. Unfortunately, the same has happened again and I have not produced any notes. In fact, Part IV of this, the 1949 edition, is quite substantial occupying 120 pages of the book.

Chapter I - The Building of New Towns as National Policy

No notes - sorry

Chapter II - Their Siting and Organization

No notes - sorry

Chapter III - Their Planning

No notes - sorry

Chapter IV - Their Transport and Industry

No notes - sorry

Chapter V - Their Agricultural Belts

No notes - sorry

Chapter VI - Their Local Government

No notes - sorry

Chapter VII - Their Finance

No notes - sorry

Chapter VIII - Conclusion

No notes - sorry




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Acknowledgements and Notes

There are 14 pages in this section. I have picked some parts which I think readers will find most interesting to include below.

The revision of the first edition of this book has been a task occupying more than two years. When the book was first published, Letchworth was already a considerable achievement but there was not much to be said about Welwyn Garden City beyond what was hoped to be done; now there is a story to be told. In the first edition there were references to regional planning and to town building projects abroad that had kinship to the garden city, but in the present edition these references have been omitted, for reasons of space. The first and fourth parts of the book are new.

[From the beginning of the section]

The writer expresses his thanks for information and help to Mr. J. D. Ritchie, secretary and manager of First Garden City Ltd., Letchworth, to Mr. A. C. Harwood, accountant, and Mr. O. S. Pratt, surveyor to First Garden City Ltd., to Mr. J. D. Rowland, clerk to the Letchworth Urban District Council, to Dr. B. Suggit, Letchworth medical officer of health, to Mr. J. F. Eccles, managing director of Welwyn Garden City Ltd., to Mr. Louis de Soissons, architect to Welwyn Garden City Ltd., to Mr. B. H. Deamer, clerk to the Welwyn Garden City Urban District Council, to Mr C. W. Fox, architect to the Welwyn Garden City Urban District Council, to Mr. Gordon Stephenson, late of the Ministry of Town and Country Planning, to many people at Letchworth and Welwyn Garden City who in one way or another have aided him in this task of compiling a history as well as attempting an analysis and criticism of the two garden cities. He owes special thanks to Mr. Eccles.

[Note to page 85 which is the last page of Chapter I of Part II - Letchworth: Establishment and Growth]

[ Page 85.] It may be worth while to record the names of the people the present writer remembers most clearly as among those who played a part in creating the original garden city in the first seven years. Had it not been for James Brown of Baldock and his solicitor son Charles, there probably would have been no garden city at Letchworth, for they found the land, and they deserve recognition for this work of initiative. Raymond Unwin and Barry Parker are referred to in the text, but not the names of Robert Bennett and Wilson Bidwell, members of their original staff, who worked on the town-plan and afterwards set up business on their own, becoming the leading firm of architects in the town. Sir Ralph Neville and Thomas Adams left the company at too early a stage for them to have had much effect upon the town. Aneurin Williams as chairman of the board, cautious, conscientious, and of absolute integrity, had a profound influence, and among other members of the board who made contributions of various kinds, though they (except the last named) seldom visited the estate, were Edward Cadbury, H. B. Harris, Franklin Thomasson, and Col. F. S. Bowring. A director who lived in the town and threw himself actively into many phases of its social life was H. D. Pearsall, to whom the town owes a large debt. Of the company's officials, Harold Craske, the secretary, did not step outside his official sphere, except to organize the golf club; H. Burr, the surveyor, stuck to his job, played cricket, and merely lodged in the town, taking no share in its social affairs but W. H. Gaunt, the managing agent, who came from Manchester, made himself felt. He took a leading part in many activities, made it clear that he was going to stand no nonsense from the idealists, and that the company was a business concern intending to make its business pay. He was a centre of controversy that never died down until he left the company, but not the town, in 1917. If other members of the company's staff are not named it is not because their part was unimportant, for they all had a useful place in the town's life, though they were there to do their jobs; but the assistant engineer, S. H. Donnelly, and the architect, C. Murray Hennell, ought to be mentioned, if only for their histrionic abilities, and so should F. W. Rogers, though not for that reason, but the outstanding personality among them was the forester, F. J. Cole, whose erratic and independent character made him - shall we say ? - notorious; he was much liked by some, including the present writer, for his generosity and enthusiasm: unfortunately he went away to British Columbia. Men associated with the work of the company from the outside whose advice counted for much included G. R. Strachan, a well-known civil engineer, and Sir H. Trustram Eve, the well-known surveyor, and an early benefactor was G. Christie-Miller. The public works contractor, Charles F. Ball, came to the town for business and remained there to become one of its devoted citizens. The first editor of the Citizen, A. W. Brunt, became the local historian and the town's leading public man. W. G. Furmston of the Skittles Inn, referred to in the text, was probably the best-known character in the town and still retains that title; a confirmed cockney, and a vegetarian, he took the garden city seriously and cultivated a small holding as well as doing his arduous job. Among the original inhabitants who in one way or another contributed to the making of the town and had distinctive personal qualities were the bookbinder Douglas Cockerell, the Roman Catholic historian, Dr. Adrian Fortescue, the expert on William Blake, Joseph H. Wicksteed, the educationist Sir John E. Gorst, the preacher and social reformer Rev. J. Bruce Wallace, the monetary reformer Arthur Kitson, the guild socialist S. G. Hobson, the twin brother poets and philosophers, William Loftus and Harold E. Hare, the poet H. B. Binns, the publisher H. R. Dent, and his brother Jack Dent, the present chairman of Dent's, W. G. Taylor, the novelist Charles Lee, the musician Dalhousie Young, the artists Harold Gilman, C. F. Fox, Onslow Whiting, Edward Docker, R. P. Gossop, W. W. Ratcliffe, F. S. Ogilvie, Bradford Penn, and Stanley Parker, the printer Bernard Newdigate, the singer Jenny Atkinson, the actor Frank Reynolds, the free churchmen the Stark brothers, the house agents Edgar Simmons and T. C. Howard, the doctors R. H. Crowley, Norman Macfadyen, and Miss M. Gilford, the co-operator B. Williams, the schoolmaster John Russell the lawyer Dr. M. Gilbart-Smith, the retired ministers Rev. W. J. Jupp, Rev. H. Cubbon, and Rev. A. Buckley, the musician Miss Margaret Fowles, the philanthropic Miss A. J. Lawrence who built the Cloisters, Miss Juliet E. Reckitt, who built the Friends' Meeting House, the ornithologist F. B. Kirkman, the secularist George Crosoer, the anarchist James Henderson, the retired Arthur Bates, the publicist W. H. Knight, the politician H. Bond Holding, the civil servant S. W. Palmer, the trade unionist W. F. Kensett, the weaver Edmund Hunter, the socialist W. J. Brooks, the adult school enthusiast F. G. P. Radclyffe, the journalist 'Kukios,' the socialist nurserymen J. J. Kidd and Hal Jones, the social democrat T. G. Rogers, and the I.L.P.-ers George Bates and B. J. Ellis, the printer W. F. Moss, the chemist C. F. Townsend, the Ruskinian W. H. Burrow, the young Ewart G. Culpin, who was to become chairman of the London County Council, the Australian Edgar Wing, and the garden city enthusiasts T. D. James, James Langston, Ewart James, Miss Grace Stabb, Miss Hope Rea, Miss A. M. Nicholson, and goodness knows how many more. Among the town's schoolmasters, C. A. Pease and J. A. N. Stephenson left their mark. Among the town's ministers of religion were the Rev. F. N. Heazell, the Rev. R. W. Jackson, and Dr. Fortescue already mentioned. Among the architects were H. Clapham Lander, W. H. Cowlishaw, C. M. Crickmer, and Allen Foxley, and among the builders, T. J. Openshaw, Howard Hurst, Frederick Palmer, and Beckley & Turpie. Among the tradesmen Alfred Snowden, E. H. Wightman, A. T. Crouch, H. Gomersall, P. Beddoe, and C. T. Ansell. One of the town's early residents was A. C. Maclean, who was employed by the Spirella Company, and, in his spare time in the garage of his home, started the manufacture of Maclean's stomach powders, which became the foundation of Macleans Ltd., a business out of which he made a fortune. When the successful and highly profitable nature of his business was proved Maclean moved from Letchworth and gave up his job to concentrate upon it, so that except in an incipient sense he was never a Letchworth manufacturer: he died a knight. This is by no means a complete list of people who deserve to be mentioned; there were others who influenced the town in its early years, as much perhaps as some of those here referred to, and injustice has been done by omitting them, but the injustice is unintentional, and to them or their friends the writer offers his apologies. The reason for referring to them at all is to recall the great variety of talents and the diversity of individuals that made the early community and caused the town to be so interesting a place in which to live. The first new house was occupied by Miss T. L Revell but as a resident she was preceded by the present writer, who may venture in this place to record that he was established in lodgings on 2nd March 1904, remained in the town until 1920, and regards himself as having been the town's first new inhabitant. Earlier people were only visitors, as he had been himself, engaged on the company's business. It is largely from the first-hand knowledge so gained that this book has been written. Many Russian refugees found a temporary home in the town, including for a short time V. I. Lenin himself. An account of the town and its inhabitants to 1914 is contained in Pageant of Letchworth by A. W. Brunt (Letchworth Printers Ltd., 1942), and a record of personal reminiscences by W. G. Furmston, Ancestral Jottings (n.d.), to both of which books the reader is referred.

[Note to page 129 which is near the end of Chapter IV, Part II - Letchworth: Industries]

[ 129.] The following is the main reference to Letchworth in Sir Patrick Abercrombie's Report on Greater London, 1944:

This, the first garden city, is a steadily expanding industrial town, the centre of the Hitchin-Letchworth-Baldock complex. It is the obvious industrial centre for this part of the region, and in the present report is planned for a considerable absorption of London population (19,000 persons). The fixing of a definite green belt and limit of expansion is very desirable. On the south-west this will involve the reservation of land in the Hitchin urban district; on the north west, the east side of Stotfold Road should be the limit as far as Wilbury Road. On the east, industrial development on the south side of the railway threatens to join up Letchworth and Baldock, and in order that this merging along the Baldock road should not take place further development should be stopped west of the First Garden City pumping station as far north as the railway. On the south, adequate land is available for parkway treatment of Letchworth Gate and to preserve a deep green belt between development and the Great North Road: but it is essential that the land on the east side of the Great North Road (not owned by the First Garden City Ltd.) should also be in the green belt.

The suggestion that 170 acres are needed for an extension to Letchworth's industrial estate (on the ground that the present 170 acres caters for 17,000 persons, and, therefore, double that area is needed for a population of 35,000) contemplates an excessive increase in industry. Such an area on the east would mean the complete filling up of all the open land on both sides of the railway between Letchworth and Baldock and would bring industry right on to the western fringe of Baldock. A far smaller area would meet all normal future requirements. Before the war the industrial area employed numerous persons from surrounding centres such as Hitchin, Baldock, Stotfold, etc.; in other words, the industry here caters for a much bigger population than 17,000, probably at least 26,000 - hence adding 17,000 population will not necessitate anything like a doubling of the area. Furthermore, the gasworks and abattoir occupy another twelve acres and these sites will not require any corresponding extension with an increase in population to 35,000; there are also approximately fourteen acres of vacant sites and a number of the present occupied sites are capable of extension. It appears that approximately 140 acres are occupied by factories and before the war employed about 7,600 persons, and that an increase in the population of Letchworth to 35,000 would produce another 5,300 persons wanting factory work. Allowing for existing factories to increase their numbers by approximately 20 per cent, factory space will be required for another 3,800 people, and on the basis of the existing density of persons per factory acre at Letchworth this will need fifty-eight acres, of which about fourteen acres are vacant, giving a net additional area of forty-four acres. Even if the possibility of any existing factory expanding is discounted (a most unlikely event), only eighty-three acres extra are needed.

Assuming some of the vacant sites are too small for factories, that some of the present factories will never be extended to their full capacity, that further industries may want rather more space than past concerns, and that some additional land will be required for sidings, it is probable that approximately seventy acres will be required, and for this an industrial belt is proposed on the north side of the railway as far as the refuse tip on the east side of the road from Baldock to Stotfold, though this rather overlooks Baldock. If on account of topographical difficulties this land is not in every way suitable or if eventually a greater area should be required (though this is unlikely), an area within the Hitchin urban district on the north-east side, where there is a new engineering factory, might be developed. The alternative is only to allow the location in Letch worth of factories employing a large number of persons per industrial area - if this course were adopted it would lead to considerable economy of land. After the war the most urgent necessity will be further housing and until this has been put in hand no further industry should be permitted entry to this town.

[Note to page 367 which is near the beginning of Chapter I, Part IV - The Building of New Towns as national Policy]

[ 367] A proposal for a Hundred New Towns for Britain was put forward in a pamphlet in 1933, written anonymously by 'Ex-service Man, J47485.' The author was A. Trystan Edwards, F.R.I.B.A., well known as a writer on architectural subjects. He got the project supported in a long letter to The Times, in February 1934, signed by a number of distinguished people, including Lord Semphill, Sir Robert Hadfield, Canon H. R. L. Sheppard, Sir Edwin Lutyens, Professor S. D. Adshead, and R. Coppock. His scheme was for building seventy-six new towns in England, fifteen in Scotland, and nine in Wales, and was put forward as a war memorial. Each town was to have a population of 50,000 on an area of about four square miles, and was estimated to cost about ten million pounds.

A Trystan Edwards idea of a small town, partly based on Howard's conception

(click image to enlarge)

An archetypal plan of a town was contained in the pamphlet showing a geometrical design, which was thought to illustrate the organic principles of town development: six zones consisting of three residential zones and shopping, commercial, and industrial zones. A railway was outside the town adjacent to the shopping zone. A limit of ten years was set for the execution of the entire scheme. No indication was given as to how the thing was to be done, and no attempt was made to outline the organization required. A feature of the scheme was that no debt was to be created, but the entire capital required, a total of a thousand million pounds, was to be issued by the Treasury in the form of new money. The author was thus a monetary reformer, but the monetary scheme was no more worked out than any other part of it. As the author was a man of literary gifts, the pamphlet was well and persuasively written. His scheme itself, apart from its monetary features, he had taken from the garden city proposals, and his arguments were likewise those used on behalf of the garden city. He made no mention, however, of the garden city, or of Letchworth or Welwyn Garden City, and presented the proposal as if it were entirely new and invented by himself. Why this was so it is difficult to understand, except that Edwards was a critic of, and disliked, Raymond Unwin's planning ideas, neither would he have anything to do with the garden city. As an independent restatement of the garden city case the proposal had interest, but apart from its monetary element it had no original features.




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List of Maps and Diagrams in the Text

Many of these illustrations appeared in the first edition of the book. Some of them are reproduced in my notes to the 1925 first edition which can be reached here (1925 link).

* = reproduced above in the text

A Spanish idea of a 'Lineal City' (1882)
Part of a Lineal City at Madrid (1922)
A German architect's diagram for an ideal city (1924)
A diagram of Tony Garnier's 'Industrial City' (1901)
Le Corbusier's 'Verdant City' (1946)
Ebenezer Howard's diagram of the Three Magnets (1898)
Ebenezer Howard's diagram of the Garden City (1898)
Ebenezer Howard's diagram of a ward of the Garden City (1898)
Ebenezer Howard's diagram of satellite towns (1898)
Thomas Sharp's application of the Satellite Town idea (1940)
Letchworth estate and the surrounding country (1903)
Letchworth Hall as drawn by F. L. Griggs
Lay-out of part of Letchworth Council's housing scheme (1919)
Plans of Letchworth Council's housing scheme (1919)
Lay-out at Letchworth (1919)
St Francis College as originally designed
Parker & Unwin's original plan of Letchworth (1904)
Letchworth town-pan and development (1925)
*Letchworth estate and development (1948)
*Letchworth: shopping centre (1948)
*Letchworth: industrial area (1948)
Tenement factory
Letchworth: some typical road sections in the original lay-out
Letchworth: agricultural belt (1924)
Welwyn Garden City estate (1919)
Welwyn Garden City and the surrounding towns within a twelve-mile radius
Welwyn Garden City: District Council's first housing scheme (1921)
Welwyn Garden City: District Council's second housing scheme (1923)
Welwyn Garden City: Lay-out of first housing scheme (1921)
Welwyn Garden City: Lay-out of second housing scheme (1923)
Welwyn Garden City: Lay-out of third housing scheme (1924)
Welwyn Garden City: plans of fourth housing scheme (1925)
Welwyn Garden City: plans of housing scheme (1947)
Welwyn Garden City: plans of Welwyn Public Utility Housing Society's scheme (1925)
Welwyn Garden City: plans of company's building scheme (1946)
*Welwyn Garden City: lay-out of a Council scheme (1947)
*Welwyn Garden City: lay-out of a site for the Garden City Company (1946)
Welwyn Garden City: original plan for county elementary school (1923)
Welwyn Garden City: diagram of geological formation
Welwyn Garden City: diagram of original town-plan (1920)
Welwyn Garden City: south-west area: original conditions
Welwyn Garden City: south-west area: section of town-plan
Welwyn Garden City: south-west area development to 1924
*Welwyn Garden City: south-west area: development to 1949
Welwyn Garden City: types of culs-de-sac
*Welwyn Garden City: part of District Council's housing scheme (1930)
Welwyn Garden City: formal grouping of residential development (1921)
Welwyn Garden City: picturesque treatment of residential development (1921)
Welwyn Garden City: diagram showing relation to London and to communications
Welwyn Garden City: diagram of town area in quarter-mile zones
*Welwyn Garden City: diagram of town-plan for completed town of 50,000 (1947)
Welwyn Garden City: factory area (1925)
*Welwyn Garden City: factory area (1948)
Welwyn Garden City: 'Punch' advertisements
*Welwyn Garden City: group of three sectional factories (1937)
*Welwyn Garden City: lay-out of eighteen sectional factories (1937)
Welwyn Garden City: original road designs
*Welwyn Garden City: cross sections of road construction
Welwyn Garden City: road plan showing services
Welwyn Garden City: original main drainage scheme (1920)
Welwyn Garden City: original pumping station (1922)
*Welwyn Garden City and Hatfield New Town areas (1948)
Diagram of satellite towns round London (1920)
Abercrombie's Greater London Plan: The Four Rings (1944)
Stevenage New Town: original town-plan (1946)
Stevenage New Town: revised town-plan (1948)
Crawley-Three Bridges master plan (1948)
Harlow New Town plan (1948)
Hemel Hempstead: New Town plan (1948)
Hemel Hempstead: New Town plan, five-year plan of development
Leberecht Migge's plan for Kiel with agricultural belts (1920)
Diagram of areas for agricultural belts
Unwin's adaptation of Howard's ideas for town extension (1922)
Robert Whitten's diagram of satellite development (1923)
*A Trystan Edwards idea of a small town, partly based on Howard's conception




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List of Plates

Many of these plates appeared in the first edition of the book. Some of them are reproduced in my notes to the 1925 first edition which can be reached here (1925 link).

* = reproduced below

*Frontispiece Ebenezer Howard, the originator of the Garden City (1924)


A characteristic house on Wilbury Road (1905)
An early house on Garth Road (1905)
Architect's house on Letchworth Lane (1904, extended 1912)
Houses in South View (1912)
Group of houses, South Place (1912)
Sollershott House - group of co-operative houses (formerly Homesgarth) (1910)
Workmen's houses in Common View (1908)
Public utility society's scheme, Burnell Walk (1913)
Public utility society's scheme, Rushby Walk (1913)
*Workmen's houses round a small green in Common View (1908)
Public utility society's scheme, Lytton Avenue (1907)
*U.D.C. housing scheme, Jackmans Place (1919-1921)
*U.D.C. housing scheme, Jackmans Place (1919-1921)
U.D.C. housing scheme, Rushby Mead (1919-1921)
U.D.C. housing scheme, Jackmans Place (1919-1921)
Small houses in Rushby Mead (1924)
Broadway (1924)
*Willian Way (1939)
*Bedford Road (1945)
*Double avenue of trees in Broadway (1945)
Norton Way (1914)
St Michael's Church, Norton Way (1907)
Methodist Church, Norton Way (1914)
Free Church, Norton Way (rebuilt 1924)
*The entrance to the Cloisters (1905)
*The altar of the church of St. Hugh, Pixmore Way (1908)
The Friends' Meeting House (built 1907)
*St. Francis College
*The vestibule of the theatre at St. Francis College
*Urban District Council Offices (built 1934)
*Public library and museum
*Town Square
*Letchworth from the air (1937)
*Air view of shopping centre (pictured 1926)
*Leys Avenue (built 1907-23; pictured 1936)
Small shops in Leys Avenue (built 1908)
Spirella factory (built 1908)
*Engineering works, Birds Hill (1908)
*Scientific instrument works, Pixmore Avenue (1907)
*Irving Air Chute factory, New Icknield Way (1939)
* The edge of the agricultural belt
Small holder's cottage (1905)
*An early seventeenth-century house in Letchworth Lane
Norton Village with the church and inn

Welwyn Garden City

House on Guessens Road (1922)
Group of houses on Valley Road (1925)
House on bridge Road (1931)
*Guessens Walk (1927)
*Brockswood Lane (1926)
*Parkway (1932)
*Entrance to the Orchard (1927) - [should read Walden Place]
*Parkway Close (1925)
*Meadow Green (1921)
*Street planting - Parkway (1925)
*Street planting - Walden Road (1927, picture 1947)
*Street planting - Peartree Lane (1927)
*Street planting - Peatree Court (1927)
*Street planting - Coneydale (1934)
High Oaks Road (1921)
Brockswood Lane (1921)
Handside Close (1922)
Gardening class (1924)
Handside Green (1921)
Homer Field (1924)
Meadow Green (1922)
*Goose Acre (1938)
*Flats on the roof of Welwyn Stores (1939)
*Mandeville Rise (1938)
*Tree planting in Knella Road
First housing scheme by the Rural District Council (1922)
*Shortlands Green (1931)
*Upperfield Road (1939)
*The Roman Catholic church of St. Bonaventure (1926)
*The Anglican church of St. Francis (1935)
*The Free Church (1929)
*Handside School (built 1923, extended 1932)
*Sherrards Park School (1929-1930)
*The Grammar School (1937)
*The Community Centre (1938)
* Early residential development, from the air
*The District Council's offices on the Campus (1936)
*The Cherry Tree Restaurant (1921)
*The Cherry Tree Restuarant (1933)
*The Beehive public-house
*Welwyn Stores (1924)
*Welwyn Stores (1924)
*Welwyn Stores (1939)
*Shops at Cole Green Lane (1938)
*Welwyn Theatre (1928)
*Barclay's Bank (1930)
*The Post Office (1931)
*The south side of Howardsgate (1929-1930)
*Air view of residential and industrial areas (1936)
*Factory on Broadwater Road (1931)
*Sectional factories, Tewin Road (1936)
*Two-storey sectional factory, Broadwater Road (1931)
*Grinding wheel factory, Bridge Road (1931)
*Shredded Wheat factory, Bridge Road (1924)
*Roche Products factory, Broadwater Road (1938)
Monks Wood in Digswell Park
*The River Mimram
Howardsgate as originally planned
The first sketch for the Campus and civic centre (1921)

Ebenezer Howard, the originator of the Garden City

Photo by Maurics Adams (1924)

(click image to enlarge)


(L) An early scheme of workmen's houses in Common View (1908)

Crickmer & Foxley, Architects

(click image to enlarge)


(L) Part of the district council's first housing scheme (1919-21) in Jackmans Place

Crickmer & Foxley, Architects

(click image to enlarge)


(L) Part of the district council's first housing schee (1919-121) in Jackmans Place

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(L) Willian Way (1939). The street trees not yet fully grown nearly meet overhead

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(L) Bedford Road and the agricultural belt to the north-west (1945)

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(L) A part of Broadway to the south, with its double avenue of trees (1945)

(click image to enlarge)


(L) The entrance to the Cloisters (1905)

W. H. Cowlishaw, Architect

(click image to enlarge)


(L) The altar of the church of St. Hugh, Pixmore Way (1908)

Charles Spooner, Architect

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(L) St. Francis College, Broadway

(click image to enlarge)


(L) The vestibule of the theatre at St. Francis College

P. Morley, Architect

(click image to enlarge)


(L) The urban district council's offices built in 1934, with a cinema to the right

Bennett & Bidwell, Architects

(click image to enlarge)


(L) The public library and museum

C. M. Crickmer, Architect

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(L) Town Square

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(L) Letchworth from the air in 1937

Broadway and the Town Square lead to the railway station and their line is continued to the north by a wide grass path through Norton Common to Wilbury Road. There is much vacant land in the centre, which, of course, is inevitable, for here the town's future important buildings will be placed. The industrial area to the north-east can barely be distinguished. There are playing fields to the south-east.

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(L) This view of Station Place, Broadway, and the shopping centre, taken in 1926,
indicates how much Letchworth owes to its tree-planting. Except for some land
in the foreground the area is built up.

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(L) Leys Avenue in 1936. The building was done in 1907-23

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(L) An engineering works on Birds Hill - Lloyds & Co. (Letchworth) Ltd. (1908)

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(L) A scientific instrument works on Pixmore Avenue - Foster Instrument Co. Ltd. (1907)

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(L) The Irving Air Chute of Great Britain's factory, New Icknield Way (1939)

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(L) Letchworth: the edge of the agricultural belt

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(L) An early seventeenth-century house, now cottages, in Letchworth Lane

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(W) Guessens Walk (1927)

Louis de Soissons, Architect

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(W) A house at the end of Brockswood Lane (1926)

C. H. James, Architect

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(W) Part of a group of houses on Parkway (1932)

Louis de Soissons, Architect

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(W) Entrance to the Orchard (1927)

[Note: I think the caption should be Walden Place not the Orchard. (A.C.)]

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(W) Parkway Close (1925)

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(W) Meadow Green (1921)

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(W) Parkway (1925)

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(W) Walden Road (1927) photographed in 1947

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(W) Peartree Lane (1927)

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(W) Peartree Court, built by a public utility society (1927)

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(W) Coneydale, a builder's scheme (1934)

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(W) Later development at Gooseacre (1938)

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(W) Part of the residential flats on the roof of Welwyn Stores (1939)

Louis de Soissons, Architect

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(W) Building in the woodlands before the war, in 1938; Mandeville Rise

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(W) Street planting in Knella Road; note the position of the street lamp standard,
placed without regard for the trees.

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(W) Shortlands Green, the urban district council's sixth scheme (1931)

Louis de Soissons, Architect

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(W) Upperfield Road, one of the urban district council's housing schemes (1939)

C. W. Fox, Architect

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(W) The Roman Catholic Church of St. Bonaventure (1926)

T. H. B. Scott, Architect

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(W) The Anglican Church of St. Francis (1935)

Louis de Soissons, Architect

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(W) The Free Church (Presbyterian), the first of the new churches (1929)
as it appeared when first opened.

Louis de Soissons, Architect

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(W) Handside School, the first school; built in 1923, added to in 1932

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(W) Sherrards Park School (1929-30)

C. Murray Hennell and H. T. B. Barnard, Architects

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(W) The grammar school, built by the county education authority in 1937

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(W) The community centre built at Peartree by the urban district council in 1938

Louis de Soissons, Architect

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(W) Part of the early residential development of Welwyn Garden City.

At the bottom left-hand corner is a small secion of Parkway, with Guessens Road parallel to it; bending to the right it joins Handside Lane, becomes Youngs Rise, meets Elm Gardens, runs into Valley Road, and continues as High Oaks Road. At the right-hand bottom corner is part of the railway line to Dunstable, and more or less parallel with it Bridge Road and Brockswood Lane. All this development was done between 1920 and 1928. In the top right-hand corner is the beginning of the golf course.

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(W) The urban district council's offices (1936) when they were opened,
with some of the woodland. The first building on the Campus

C. G. Elsom and H. Stone, Architects

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(W) The Cherry Tree Restaurant as first constructed in 1921

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(W) The Cherry Tree Restaurant rebuilt in 1933

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(W) The Beehive public-house at Hatfield Hyde, an example of the
original buildings on the estate; the rustic porch and the
extension onthe left were additions made many years ago.

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(W) The original Welwyn Stores as it was in 1924

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(W) The Welwyn Stores, grocery and provisions departments, in 1924

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(W) The main entrance to the Welwyn Stores new building in 1939

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(W) Shops at Cole Green Lane (1938)

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(W) The Welwyn Theatre, Parkway (1928)

Louis de Soissons and A. W. Kenyon, Architects

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(W) The first building, Barclays Bank, on the north of Howardsgate (1930),
showing the style the road was intended to have.

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(W) The Post Office, adjoining Barclays Bank, showing how the architectural
scheme was departed from (1931).

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(W) The south of Howardsgate, with the Midland Bank (1929) balancing
the bank on the other side, and showing the change of architectural
treatment. The first block of shops has offices on the first and
second floors, the other has flats (1929 and 1930).

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(W) Where the residential area joins the industrial area.

At the left-hand corner are sectional factories on Bridge Road East. Ravenfield Road and Peartree Lane are in the foreground. Ludwick Way runs across to the right. A view taken at an early stage (1936).

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(W) One of Murphy Radio factories on Broadwater Road (1931)

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(W) A group of sectional factories, Tewin Road (1936)

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(W) A two-storey sectional factory, Broadwater Road (1931)

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(W) Norton Grinding Wheel factory on Bridge Road (1931)

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(W) The Welgar Shredded Wheat factory; the silos are a well-known landmark (1924)

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(W) Roche Products factory, Broadwater Road (1938)

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(W) The river Mimram

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