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Welwyn Garden City

Garden Cities and New Towns

Authors: several - see below

Published: 1990 by Hertfordshire Publications (Hertfordshire Library Service)

Format: Hardback 9½" by 7" with 115 pages


From the dust-jacket flap

Hertfordshire has the distinction of accommodating the two existing Garden Cities, and four of the post-war New Towns. It is not surprising therefore that during 1989, the county council's centenary year, Garden Cities and New Towns were selected as the theme for a distinguished series of lectures to celebrate this association.

The five lectures are now published in one volume, with illustrations which follow closely the sequence of slides which accompanied the lectures themselves.

The lectures focus mainly on the two Garden Cities of Letchworth and Welwyn Garden City, but they look also at the influence of the garden city idea on the new towns which followed.




John Onslow
Hertfordshire County Architect

The Centenary celebrations of the County Council throughout 1989 provided occasions to review many of the changes and influences which have created the Hertfordshire we know today. An important element in the programme was this Autumn series of lectures, which gave five, eminent and knowledgeable, people the task of examining in detail the principles, the personalities, the influences, achievements, sometimes the disappointments, and the characteristics of the garden cities and new towns. Much has been published on these subjects, but there is nothing which manages to capture the breadth of view and perception contained in these transcripts. It seems very likely that they will become an important and authoritative resource for anyone interested in the subject, as well as remaining a fascinating record of five very enjoyable evenings.

To the migrants like myself, who were attracted to Hertfordshire after the war, it seemed a Mecca of opportunity and enterprise in a sylvan setting. The principles which had already established two Garden Cities in this smallest of the Home Counties may not have been fully appreciated by the majority. Most, however, must have detected that there was something special about a county which was willing to absorb more New Towns than any other county adjacent to London. Meeting the challenge of such growth and movement of population after the stagnation of the war years led to innovations and enterprises which have been important in shaping the county. Two particular initiatives in planning and education have left their mark and credit to the county. Maintenance of discernible green divisions between new and existing communities became the main plank of Hertfordshire's planning policies. Commitment to education standards and the means by which large programmes of school buildings could be achieved have brought justifiable renown to Hertfordshire.

Each of these lectures was held at a different venue, hosted by the local authority. The originator of the splendid series was Mike Hughes, Senior Assistant County Librarian for the Mid Division of Hertfordshire, who was helped in the arrangements by the Centenary Senior Executive Officer, Bob Gibbons. All concerned are grateful to the hosts and organisers and to Hertfordshire Publications, whose Honorary Editor, Arthur Jones, has brought together these texts. Above all, we are indebted to David Hall, Dr Robert Beevers, Dr Michael Hebbert, Dr Mervyn Miller and Dr William Allen for the masterly and perceptive way they developed and illustrated their allotted themes.




The five lectures

Garden Cities and New Towns

by David Hall

Ebenezer Howard: the Man and his Message

by Robert Beevers

A Hertfordshire Solution to London's Problems ?
Sir Frederic Osborn's Axioms Re-Considered

by Michael Hebbert

Letchworth Garden City: an Architectural View

by Mervyn Miller

The Architecture of the Garden Cities and New Towns

by William Allen




The five lecturers as described in the book

David Hall

David Hall has been Director oil; the Town and Country Planning Association since 1967. During is career he has been significantly involved in a number of influential planning groups, including the Council of the Royal Town Planning Institute, the Executive Committee of the National Council for Social Services (and Chairman of the Council's Planning and Environment Group), the Council for Urban Studies Centre (as Chairman ) and the Planning Committee for the Social Services Research Council. After graduating from Cambridge and National Service he travelled in the USA before going to work in the Planning Department of the Hertfordshire County Council as Research Officer from 1960-1965; later he worked for Durham County Council as County Map Officer. In 1989 he completed five years as President of the Habitat International Coalition.

Robert Beevers

Dr Robert Beevers was Director of Studies, Regional and Tutorial Services, of the Open University from its foundation in 1969 until 1981. He was educated at Dulwich College, Oriel College, Oxford and the Institute of Historical Research of the University of London. Since his retirement from the Open University he has worked in the field of twentieth century social history and town planning. His critical biography of Ebenezer Howard, The Garden City Utopia, was published by Macmillan in 1988.

Michael Hebbert

Dr Michael Hebbert teaches town planning at the London School of Economics and is a member of the Council of the Town and Country Planning Association. Educated as a historian at Merton College Oxford, he has published a number of papers on aspects of the development of planning in Britain, including a biographical essay on Sir Frederic Osborn for the book Pioneers in British Planning (edited by Gordon Cherry; the Architectural Press, 1981). His recent work includes edited books — The London Government Handbook (Cassell, 1988), British Regionalism 1900-2000 (Mansell, 1989), and Unfamiliar Territory: the Re-shaping of European Geography (Gower, 1990).

Mervyn Miller

Dr Mervyn Miller is an architect planner. During his 14 years with North Hertfordshire District Council as their Conservation Officer he undertook detailed research into the architecture of Letchworth Garden City. In 1981 he successfully completed a PhD study on the Contribution of Sir Raymond Unwin to the Evolution of British Town Planning, to he published in 1991 by Leicester University Press. He is also involved with the Hampstead Garden Suburb Trust and Lutyens Trust. He has written and lectured extensively on the Garden City Movement; his history of Letchworth was published in Winter 1989, and he is currently working on a successor volume on Hampstead Garden Suburb. Dr Miller is currently Executive Secretary to the Hertfordshire Building Preservation Trust and an independent architect and planning consultant.

William Allen

Dr William Allen is a Canadian by birth and education. He first worked in England with Louis de Soissons, the architect/planner of Welwyn Garden City, whose biography he later wrote for the Dictionary of National Biography. He spent some years at the Building Research Establishment in Watford before being appointed Director of the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London in 1961. Alongside this, he and the late John Bickerdike founded his present architectural practice, Bickerdike Allen Partners, to which he gave his full time from 1966. Dr Allen was awarded the CBE in 1986.




Three photographs from the book

(Beevers) Ebenezer Howard in his mid-thirties

British Library

(Miller) Letchworth Garden City, 158 Wilbury Road

The most radical of the 1905 cheap cottages.
A prefabricated panel built cottage designed by J. M. Brodie, City Engineer of Liverpool.

(Allen) Welwyn Garden City, Handside Lane

The first houses to be built for the garden city, and the original hedgerow of the farm lane preserved.