ALAN CASH - web pages
C. B. Purdom
Author: C. B. Purdom
First published: 1913 by J. M. Dent & Sons Ltd. (Printed in the Garden City at the Temple Press)
Format: Hardback 9¾" by 7¾" with 330 pages*
Houses near Norton Common (T. Friedensen)
(click image to enlarge)
Charles Purdom's own words are quoted in red italics
From the preface:
Chapter I - On the Origins of Garden City - I
In this chapter, the author discusses the problems caused by the rise of the industrial towns of the nineteenth century.
He goes on to describe several practical proposals made in the nineteenth century to build a town fit for the altering conditions of the time, some of which were actually attempted.
Robert Owen, in his 1818 Report to the Committee of the Association for the Relief of the Manufacturing and Labouring Poor, proposed the formation of agricultural and manufacturing villages for 1200 people, and one was actually started in Orbiston, near Motherwell, in 1820, but it failed in 1828.
A number of Village Associations were proposed. In 1845, Mr Moffatt, a London architect proposed to form an association which would erect villages around the city some four to ten miles distant, but the idea was not proceeded with. Another scheme was proposed to form an association to build, at Ilford in Essex, a village with "Air and space, wood and water, schools and churches, shrubberies and gardens, around pretty self-contained cottages, in a group neither too large to deprive it of a country character, not too small to diminish the probabilities of social intercourse." (from Tait's Edinburgh Magazine, 1848).
In 1849, reformer and idealist, James Silk Buckingham, wrote the book National Evils and Practical Remedies, which recommended the building of a model town to absorb the unemployed. Buckingham proposed a "Model-Town Association" which would form a private company to purchase 10,000 acres of land on which a town, to be named "Victoria", would be erected. 1,000 acres of the land would be for houses for 10,000 inhabitants, the remaining 9,000 acres being for factories and agriculture, the whole to be owned and managed by the company. The capital of the company was to be £3,000,000. Non-residents could invest in the company but all residents should have at least one share which could be paid for by instalments. Dividends were to be limited to 10%, with the balance of the profits to be divided among the residents.
Buckingham included in his book a plan for the proposed town, which was to have a square layout. The outer square was to be housing; within that were to be workshops; the centre was to be for public buildings and expensive houses. Manufactories were to be located outside but near to the edge where workers could enjoy the open air.
Buckingham's scheme was not proceeded with. CBP says that Howard claimed he had not seen Buckingham's book (which contained elements similar to Howard's own scheme) until "I had got far on with my project".
CBP quotes health reformer Dr Benjamin Ward Richardson, who, at a congress in Brighton, proposed the building of a "City of Health" which he named Hygeia. Richardson supported Edwin Chadwick's assertion that death rates could be reduced from over 50 to under 5 per thousand annually. Chadwick had, in 1842, produced the report The Sanitary Conditions of the Labouring Population in which he argued that disease was directly related to living conditions and that there was a desperate need for public health reform.
Richardson's Hygeia was to have 20,000 houses for 100,000 inhabitants on 4,000 acres. There would be three main boulevards running east to west, with others running north to south crossing these, and minor roads off them. All streets would be wide and planted with trees. Houses would have gardens at the back.
CBP continues with discussion of examples where industrialists removed their works from the city to the country and built there a new village to house the workers. The first example given is Saltaire, built by Sir Titus Salt, alpaca manufacturer of Bradford, who created the village (opened in 1853) outside the city near Shipley. [Alpaca is cloth made from the wool of the alpaca which is a smaller relative of the llama.] At Saltaire 800 houses were erected for a population of 3000.
Other examples given are Port Sunlight, begun in 1887 by Sir William H. Lever, who purchased 56 acres outside Birkenhead for new works and a model village; and the village of Bournville founded by George Cadbury in 1889, when he removed his cocoa works from Birmingham to the country.
Chapter II - On the Origins of Garden City - II
In this chapter, the author takes the story from Ebenezer Howard's 1898 book To-morrow: A Peaceful Path to Real Reform, re-issued in 1902 as Garden Cities of To-morrow, up to 1903, when the first garden city had been founded at Letchworth.
In his book, Howard proposed constructing a town of 32,000 people. An area of 6,000 acres of agricultural land was to be purchased at £40 per acre requiring £240,000 capital to be raised. The estate was to be held in trust, first as security for the debenture holders, and second for the people of the Garden City. A circular layout was proposed, with the town for residences and manufacturers at the centre, surrounded by an agricultural belt which would occupy most of the area of 6,000 acres.
The key element in Howard's proposal was a new method of raising revenue which was different from that used previously in any other municipality. The entire revenue would be from rents. The money would pay interest to the investors, would provide a sinking fund for the eventual repayment of the capital, and would pay for the construction and maintenance of the town.
Howard said that his proposal would stem the tide of immigration from country to town and even turn it back. Opportunities would be available for profitable industries. The health and comfort of workers would be raised by the fresh air and beauty of the country. The project would be a marrying of town and country.
The main difference between Howard's and Buckingham's proposals, was that Buckingham proposed that agriculture and manufacturing was to be controlled by the town authority, whereas Howard's was a scheme based on the freedom of private enterprise for trade and industry by the inhabitants.
Despite criticism from some quarters, Howard's timely and attractive scheme attracted many supporters, and in 1899 the Garden City Association was formed with the object of promoting Howard's project by means of lectures, and ultimately produce a practical project based on it. Committees were appointed to consider aspects of the proposal including a sites committee to consider a possible site for the garden city. However, an early resolution in May 1900 to create a company with £50,000 capital was found to be premature and was put in abeyance. More discussion was needed.
In 1901, Ralph Neville, K. C., became chairman of the council of the Association, and Thomas Adams became its first paid secretary. Two conferences were organised, the first at Port Sunlight at which 300 delegates attended, the second at Bournville where nearly 1000 came. These proved to be decisive as propaganda since people could see in concrete terms what was possible, if on a smaller scale than that proposed, and they were impressed by the support of the wealthy and admired Lever and Cadbury. Neville pushed home the importance of the financial basis of the garden city idea, which was to use the "unearned increment" or increase in land values which was happening due to the growth of the towns, and which had hitherto been for the benefit of private speculators, for the advantage of the citizens themselves.
In December of 1901 the council resumed its resolve to form a company to raise sufficient funds to secure a suitable site.
On 16th July, 1902, the Garden City Pioneer Company was registered, with a capital of £20,000. The memorandum of association was:
The directors were:
The list of first subscribers included George Cadbury, Alfred Harmsworth, W. H. Lever, and J. P. Thomasson, each of whom invested £1,000.
The prospectus frankly declared that the investors would receive no dividends and that their money may be lost, but that if a company was ultimately formed (to build a Garden City), the original investors would be entitled to shares in that company equal to their investment plus interest at 4%. The prospectus received much interest being advertised for free in many newspapers. By December 1902, the whole £20,000 was fully subscribed.
The company immediately began searching for an estate to purchase. Several were considered, but in April 1903, Herbert Warren brought to their attention an estate near Hitchin, known as the Letchworth Estate. Although only 1,014 acres in size, there were adjoining properties which could be bought bringing the total up to nearly 4,000 acres. This site in Hertfordshire seemed eminently suitable.
In July 1903, contracts were signed for the purchase of 3818 acres of land from 15 different owners for a total cost of £155,587, just over £40 per acre. Secrecy had to be maintained in case one of the owners got wind of the scheme and raised his price. An effort was made to raise £50,000 to complete the purchase, of which £40,000 was subscribed by directors and their friends. The balance of the purchase price was left on mortgage. The directors were those of the Pioneer Company plus
CBP quotes from the prospectus at length, beginning:
The prospectus continues by saying the root idea of the book is to deal with overcrowding in towns and depopulation of rural districts. The only satisfactory way to do this is to start afresh with a new town. The site is thirty-five miles from London, close to the GNR London to Cambridge line, the GNR London to the north line, and the MR Bedford to Hitchin line. The population is to be limited to 30,000 most of the land being retained for agricultural purposes. Dividends to shareholders will be limited to 5%. The company will negotiate with manufacturers and prospective tenants, and once plans for laying out the estate have been completed, the remainder of the share capital will be offered to provide for the balance of the purchase money to be paid off and for funds for development.
On 9th October, 1903 Earl Grey presided over the formal opening of the estate attended by 1,000 shareholders and their guests, who met in the midst of the countryside, three miles from any town, to celebrate the beginning of a new movement in English life. The Pioneer Company was wound up at the end of 1903 having completed its purpose.
First Garden City Ltd was registered at Somerset House on 1st September, 1903 with authorised capital of £300,000. Seven days later a prospectus was issued inviting subscriptions for £80,000 share capital.
Chapter III - The Growth of Garden City
The author points out that Howard describes the Garden City as a completed entity. Howard does not outline the process or timescale required to achieve that. CBP also makes the point that many have criticised the scheme from the point of view that a newly-created town with perfect formality will have no 'soul' and, therefore, people would not want to live there.
In practice these difficulties did not arise, for the town grew slowly, shaped by the idiosyncrasies of men. A pre-arranged system did not exist apart from a few principles which had to be adhered to: there must be a settled plan; the freehold must be retained; overcrowding must be avoided; the qualities of the country must be preserved; the dividend to shareholders could not exceed 5%.
Two sets of architects prepared plans, but the main ideas of the one by Messrs Barry Parker and Raymond Unwin were adopted over the other one by Halsey Ricardo and Professor W. R. Lethaby.
The plan is for a town of 30,000 inhabitants on 1,250 acres (5 houses or 24 persons per acre). Hitchin (10,000 inhabitants) is 1½ to the west of the boundary, and Baldock (2,000) immediately to the east. The site is bisected by the Hitchin-Cambridge railway line. The Hitchin-Baldock-Royston-Cambridge road runs through the estate to the south of the railway line, while the Great North Road skirts it to the south-east.
The main road of the town (Broadway), 100 feet wide, will run for about a mile from the Hitchin Road to Letchworth Railway Station, but only part has been constructed. The main highway is Norton Way, constructed in 1905.
A vote of shareholders in 1904 decided the name of the town from a short-list of six which were:
Letchworth (Garden City) was chosen by a large majority. The name derives from the Saxon lecha weorthig which means "the farm by the rivulet".
In 1904, the first roads, the waterworks, and the first part of the sewerage scheme were built. The laying out of building plots on existing roads and on the parts of the new roads which had been built was started, and in the first summer 50 plots were let and building started. The policy was for early development to be in the outer area where roads already existed. Building regulations based on the Local Government Board model were prepared. Elevations and plans for all buildings had to be approved by the company.
In 1905 the building of the gas works and the private railway sidings were begun. The electricity supply did not come for another three years and only the central business area is as yet connected (1913).
The company needed to retain the agricultural tenants for their revenue, and all but one entered into an agreement that the company would only take one tenth of land in any one year and on three months notice with reasonable compensation.
A memorandum issued to shareholders in 1904 stated:
In 1905, the Country Gentleman and Spectator newspapers organised the Cheap Cottages Exhibition to prove that a rural labourer's cottage could be built for £150 to help solve the problem of rural depopulation. The directors of the Garden City Company readily offered a site for the exhibition, and 121 cottages were built with various designs and materials on an area north of the station. 80,000 people visited the exhibition during the three months it was open in the summer of 1905.
CBP thinks the exhibition did harm to the town and should be best forgotten. Despite the interest in the town which was generated, he says it gave the town the character of a village of tiny week-end cottages not well built, and a name for cranky buildings. The site was ill-chosen and the cottages badly-arranged.
The first residents of the town were professional and business men with their families who took houses on the existing roads. The working-class had to wait until the industrial area was developed.
In 1905, the first industries were established, being the Heatly-Gresham Engineering Company, and the Garden City Press, Ltd., followed by others. In 1907, printers and bookbinders J. M. Dent & Sons, and W. H. Smith came to the town, as well as the Arden Press.
The population was now about 4,300. The many more practical newcomers, tradesmen and artisans, swamped the first-comers with their idealistic notions, but soon entered into the spirit. Social activities became more organised and many committees sprang into existence.
The early residents had created a Residents' Council
which communicated with the Garden City Company, but it failed to gain
recognition. In 1908, the old three parishes (Letchworth, Norton and Willian)
were merged by order of the Local Government Board, creating a new parish
of Letchworth with a council of 15 members. The first council was elected
in April with chairman the Right Hon. Sir John E. Gorst. A parish council
has limited powers, and as the Garden City Company continued to develop
the town it assumed many of the duties of a local authority, working harmoniously
with the parish, rural district and county councils. The formation of
an Urban District Council was not deemed to be necessary at this stage.
Chapter IV - Garden City Architecture
The author states that the idea of the promoters of the Garden City was not to build an artistic town, but was to effect the improvement of individual housing. They were not preoccupied by questions of æsthetics.
In 1904, before building commenced, the Company issued a pamphlet giving suggestions by which beauty might secured to the buildings of the town. The author quotes directly most of this pamphlet:
The report goes on to say that a building line will be suggested, but alterations to it will be considered. A sunny aspect for the main rooms is more important than fronting the house to the road. Ample frontage would be provided, and
The w.c. should be within the house. One quality of material should be used throughout rather than having a faced front with inferior materials for sides or back. Roofs had to be of red tiles, slate being prohibited, which CBP thinks
The author quotes a song from the Garden City Pantomime to illustrate his view that the problem in architecture is not the conflict of styles, but deficiency in construction:
This was intended to be an exaggeration and is relevant to new building everywhere. The author thinks that the problem is partly due to the parsimonious client, but also due to the modern architect being too much of a drawing-office man out of touch with materials, and content to design the elevation leaving the details to assistants. He quotes from a recent book by Professor W. R. Lethaby who says:
Chapter V - Some Typical Garden City Houses
This chapter is devoted to the architecture of individual houses which have been built in the town. The author says:
The author dwells on the excitement of having one's own house built to live in - choosing the site, getting plans from the architect, getting estimates from the builder, and watching the building going up.
He says that the typical Garden City house is a small one - from six to twelve rooms [!] those building them not being rich. He talks of the mistake of furnishing a small house with over-large and hideous Victorian furniture. A new style of furniture is needed and it is possible to have a good deal of built-in furniture in a house built for oneself.
The author describes briefly one uncompleted Garden City house, the Cloisters, designed by W. H. Cowlishaw, being the largest private house in the town. It is arranged both for public gatherings and as a residence.
The remainder of this chapter comprises descriptions, plans and photographs (interiors and exteriors) of sixteen Garden City houses, or groups of houses, chosen by the author to be typical. Most are by architects practising in the town. He mentions other architects with work in the town, namely, M. H. Baillie Scott, Charles Spooner, Halsey Ricardo, Geoffrey Lucas, and C. Harrison Townsend. The author mentions the attention paid, in Garden City houses, to aspect, in order to secure maximum sunlight and the best view for the principal rooms.
(1) A Pair of Cottages on Letchworth Lane
Among the earliest new buildings erected were those designed by the men who intended to live in them. One is occupied by a man who designs his own furniture. The living room of this cottage is illustrated.
(2) A Pair of Houses on Baldock Road
These houses, which date from the town's beginning, are for families.
(3) A Pair of Houses on Norton Way
The houses overlook Norton Common to the west. The view shown has many windows facing west. The pilaster construction was thought necessary for strength and uses purple Hemel Hempstead bricks.
(4) A House on Spring Road
On the corner of Spring Road and Sellershott, this house is made from hand-made local bricks, with hollow walls, red facings and hung tiles. The garden has a sunken tennis lawn backed by great elms.
(5) A House on Garth Road
Sliding doors are used in this house, "Glaed Hame", so that the living room, dining room and hall can be used as one large room. The views to south and south-west are over Letchworth Park to wooded country.
There is no underground drainage; instead earth closets on Dr Poore's system are used. [Dr Poore brought out the second edition of his book Rural Heigene, in 1894. His method involved collecting the poo in a container of garden compost, adding a scoopful on top to keep down flies and smells, then disposing the whole in a trench in the garden over which vegetables were grown.]
Other drain water and rain water was led away by open iron channels to the kitchen garden where movable perforated channels distribute the water.
(6) A Cottage on Wilbury Road
(7) Another Cottage on Wilbury Road
(8) A House on Croft Lane
A few Letchworth houses have roofs in thatch. The "garden room" of this house can be opened to the hall in summer.
(9) A House on South View
(10) A House on Norton Road
(11) A House on Wilbury Road
(12) A House on Hitchin Road
(13) A House on Garth Road
(14) A House on Broadway
(15) Four Houses, South View
(16) Another House on Norton Way
Chapter VI - Co-operative Housekeeping in Garden City
In this chapter, the author describes a communal living scheme, started by Ebenezer Howard, and set up in co-operative buildings called "Homesgarth". When completed there will be thirty two flats and cottages arranged in a quadrangle, around administrative buildings which include communal dining-hall, tea-room, reading-room, smoking-room, the kitchen, and accommodation for the domestic staff.
The units are with one to three bedrooms, and the rents charged includes rates, hot water (from a central source), heating, garden maintenance, window cleaning, use of the common rooms, and staff salaries. The charges for meals, which can be served in the central dining-room or the tenant's own house, are low because the salaries are already taken care of in the rents.
The advantage of the scheme to the mistress is that she does not have to hire or accommodate a domestic servant (maid), and is freed from much of the drudgery of an ordinary house which centres around the kitchen. The services of the staff are available at fixed charges. The maid also benefits from this arrangement, the nature of her work and house being defined, and being able to ...
Chapter VII - Garden City Gardens
In this chapter, the author waxes lyrical on the merits of gardens in general, quoting such authors as John Evelyn and Virgil. He thinks the gardens in the Garden City reflect the spirit of the town. The only concrete information I can find in the chapter is mundane and is in the next paragraph.
All residential plots in the Garden City had to have sufficient garden space in the plan. Furthermore, the building regulations said "The garden attached to every house shall be dug over, laid out, and planted ... [and kept] in proper and neat order and condition." The regulations also stipulated that the front gardens were not to have high, close fences.
Chapter VIII - The Open Spaces and Rural Belt of Garden City
In this chapter, the author describes the chief open space of the town - Norton Common - which is seventy acres of woodland, once common land awarded to certain cottages of Norton in 1798, but long since lost to their masters. As with the previous chapter, there is much sentiment.
Chapter IX - Churches and Inns
The author tells us that the three new churches in Garden City are but missions awaiting the time when the growth of the town will enable larger building to be made.
The Catholic church of St Hugh, in Pixmore Way, was designed by Charles H. Spooner, F.R.I.B.A.
The author describes in detail the interior of this Church, which he thinks is one of the most interesting new buildings in the town from an artistic point of view. It is early Christian or Byzantine in style. He also mentions the priest in charge, Adrian Fortescue, who, with Mr Spooner, designed the vestments and other decoration. The Church was named after St Hugh of Lincoln (1186-1200) in whose diocese Letchworth was. At its opening service in 1908, the holy liturgy was sung by an Arab archimandrite (Greek Church equivalent of an abbot) according to his rite.
St Michael and All Angels' Church, Norton Way, was by
architects E. H. Hazell and C. M. Crickmer, of basilica design, and having
paintings inside by Emily Ford.
The Free Church, Norton Way, was built by non-conformists in 1905.
The three old churches on the estate are built of flint and date from the twelfth century. They are (in the north) the Church of St Nicholas, Norton, and (in the south) Letchworth Church and Willian Church. The author describes the history of these three.
At the time of the purchase of the estate, there were two inns existing - the Fox Inn or Willian Arms at Willian, and the Three Horseshoes at Norton, and also two beer houses at the edge of the estate.
Letchworth Hall is a Jacobean manor house which has been converted into an hotel by the Garden City Company. The original manor was in existence at the time of the Doomsday survey, and the author goes into its history at some length.
There was agitation for the provision of an inn at the town centre, and in 1907 the directors held a poll of householders (with married householders receiving two votes - one for the man and one for the wife) on the question. The result was 544 in favour and 631 against a public house near the railway station. Further polls produced the same result, the latest being in 1912 with an increased majority against. The author deprecates modern public houses (although not inns) and this sentiment was evidently shared by the citizens, especially the women.
In 1907, an inn without beer, the Skittles Inn, was built by Aneurin Williams and Edward Cadbury and has become popular. Those requiring a drink have to take the walk to Norton or to Willian.
Chapter X - Arts and Recreation in Garden City
The author describes and praises the church music in the Roman church of St Hugh. This is mostly in plainsong but also in four-part unaccompanied polyphony of the baroque Italian or German composers. He mentions that Dr Fortescue (the priest in charge) has also composed for that church.
Next, Mr Purdom describes the Letchworth Dramatic Society, a company of amateur players who hope to establish a theatre in the town. They have put on 26 plays to date, 8 of them original works, mostly in the hall of the Pixmore Institute. Included in these plays were The Garden City Pantomimes of 1909, 1910, and 1911, which were not pantomimes at all, but satires on the ideas of Garden City and local people connected with these ideas. C. B. Purdom himself wrote the words; the music and songs were by Charles Lee. They were a trifle daring and impudent, it is true; but they were none the worse for that.
The author quotes from the statement of objectives of the Society:
Chapter XI - Garden City Industries
The author says The industrial development of Garden City has kept pace with its residential development, if it has not slightly outstripped it ... The factories are mostly in an area to the east of the town, but with the undesirability of extending too close to Baldock, a new area has been started in the north-west of the town for light trades.
Printing, bookbinding and engineering are the chief industries. The author gives reasons why industry has come to the town. Land, and hence rent, is cheap; services are laid on, transports available, and healthy houses for the workpeople available. This is illustrated by quotations from a speech by C. H. St John Hornby of W. H. Smith Ltd, regarding the relocation of their bookbinding works from London to Garden City.
The author himself carried out a survey asking managers why industries came to Letchworth and what advantages they have found there. The reasons given included nearness to London, room for expansion, moderate rents, health and better life for employees, and desire to participate in the Garden City ideals.
The author goes on to describe briefly some of the industries, including printing and bookbinding (W. H. Smith, Arden Press, J. M. Dent, and others), automotive engineering, seed testing and packing (Country Gentleman's Association, Ltd), Spirella Corsets, St Edmundsbury weaving works, the Iceni Pottery, and others.
The author concludes that the aim of improving the position of the worker has been achieved without infringing on personal liberty.
Chapter XII - Workmen's Cottages in the Garden City
Quoting from this chapter:
Following this paragraph is a table showing a breakdown for 189 cottages built by Letchworth Cottages and Buildings, Ltd, showing rents charged and accommodation provided. Only 12 have separate bathrooms according to the table. In 1911, an inspection of the cottages was made and the opinions of tenants invited. The tenants were well satisfied, but criticisms included lack of cupboard space, ill-fitting and draughty doors and windows, and absence of a shed.
Lowest paid labour was required by industries in the town, and such people have taken cheap, poor quality rented housing in the surrounding towns and villages, particularly in Hitchin and Baldock.
The author points out that a private individual can obtain a loan from the Public Works Loan Board for not more than two-thirds of the cost and at a minimum of £4 7s. 2½d. per cent over 40 years, the usual terms being at a higher rate and longer period. The local authority can borrow the whole cost over 60 years at 4 per cent. The cheapest housing can only be provided by the local authority. At Garden City, the local authority is Hitchin Rural District Council which built 4 cottages in 1912. The land was leased from the Garden City Company at £5 17s. 10p (for the 4 cottages). The cottages were designed by the council surveyor. The £560 cost was obtained from the Public Works Loan Board. The rent charged was 4s. 6d. per week for each cottage.
Chapter XIII - The Children
The author illustrates the advantageous effect on the health of children living in Garden City as compared with those in cities, by quoting some statistics from Vital Statistics by Dr Arthur Newsholme. Of 872,767 children born in England and Wales in 1912, 82,939 died in their first year. The proportion in Garden City is a little over half the national figure. It is not only the infant mortality rate, but the health and stature of the surviving children which is affected by the better living conditions.
The first education committee of Garden City, had ambitions for ideal schools with small class sizes, and changed curriculum, but did not succeed in its objectives due to inadequate funding. However, the Garden City company did give two acres in Norton Way for a County Elementary School. The author describes the layout of this school, where all classrooms had good light and ventilation, where cloisters enabled access to the central hall, and where the central quadrangle was available for breaks in the open air.
The author continues with an account of private schools which he says were many and excellent. He describes Letchworth School, under its head J. H. N. Stephenson, built in 1909, (but founded in 1905 in temporary premises as a school for all children, which aim failed due to lack of funds). It was co-educational and intended to provide for children from kindergarten through to final preparation for university or professional careers. It has 53 pupils, three-quarters boys, with accommodation for boarders.
Chapter XIV - Health in the Garden City
The author quotes figures for general death rate of 8.0 for Garden City compared with 13.0 for England and Wales as a whole in 1912. He attributes the national decline in death rate between 1861 and 1912 to the health reforms begun by Edwin Chadwick, mainly improvements to drainage and water supply, but also housing. He points out increases in death rate in times of smoky fog, a problem not encountered in Garden City.
The author points out the importance of a hygienic milk supply to health. In the case of Garden City, the farms which supply the milk are owned by the Garden City Company, which is in a unique position. Some farms began by distributing their own milk, but distribution of the milk is mainly by dealers. The author argues for a central organisation to supervise production, a central dairy and distribution. He also calls for the establishment of a central slaughterhouse.
Chapter XV - Some Questions of Garden City Finance
All the money has come from private sources - none from government. The authorised share capital is £300,000 in £1 and £5 shares. The company did not propose to undertake the whole of the building itself the capital being inadequate for that. The operations of the company were not speculative. The return was limited to 5 per cent according to the memorandum of association.
The author attributes the shortcomings of architectural consistency and slowness of development to the inadequacy of the share capital which, in any case, was not quickly taken up. With more money the company could itself have erected housing and even factories.
The fifteen estates which make up the area of the Garden City were purchased in 1903 for £155,587. The existing farm buildings and cottages were in poor repair, and the company has spent money on them. In addition, it has built a few cottages, two factories, and with the construction of highways, sewerage schemes, water and electrical works, it has spent £347,389 (up to September 1912). The nucleus of the town came into being, and the community has erected houses, factories and public buildings.
The growth in population caused an increase in the value of the land in excess of the actual money spent on it - the "unearned increment". An independent valuation in September 1907, showed a net capital profit of £97,047 6s. 3d. This confirmed the belief of the founders that the undertaking was financially sound, and gave proof of valuable security for the shareholders, but because the profit was not realisable, could not be taken into the profit and loss account.
In the author's opinion, the profit figure was actually an underestimate, because the expenditure on water, gas and electricity works (over £37,000) should have been excluded from expenditure, because the valuers were only interested in land values and had themselves excluded it.
The initial rental returns were 2 per cent which did not cover the mortgage payments, and for the first seven years the company showed a loss. A readjustment of the accounts was made, a result of which was to show a subsequent profit reaching a large amount by 1912. The adjustment involved writing off the general development account against the increased value of the land. This was criticised in financial papers at the time, but is justified by the author who points out that the land was leased for 99 years and not sold. He takes advertising charges as an example. If you were buying land and advertising it for sale, the cost of the advertising would go to revenue. Conversely, advertising in Garden City for new lessees contributes to the increased value of the land owned by the company. The author thinks that this new method of accounting will provide a precedent for future undertakings of a similar character. [For more details on this accounting change see Appendix C - below.]
The promoters of the company did not at first go to the ordinary investor, but instead to the social reformer and philanthropist. Now that the town is in being and proving to have a sound economic basis, the author thinks that ordinary investors may be approached - patriotic men and women who support the greater health and prosperity of the people.
Chapter XVI - The Future
I am quoting some paragraphs and sentences from this chapter being the author's conclusions.
The author credits T. C. Horsfall with the recent vogue in town-panning. Since the eighties, he had made known in England the methods developed in Germany to control their towns, and England was always ready to follow the lead of Germany. Town-planning dawned on the English as a means of social reform. The result were the garden suburbs, and John Burn's Housing and Town Planning Act of 1909. That act set up the machinery for the expansion of towns and was the antithesis of the Garden City movement.
Difficulties in establishing the town have shown that the seven year period is inadequate. The author suggests three ways in which the transfer may be accomplished: (a) part purchase by the local authority, part gift, so long as the liabilities of the company were covered; (b) act of Parliament to enable loans to be raised to purchase the whole company; (c) conversion of the Garden City Company into a trust (Howard's original idea).
The author turns his attention to the question of the creation of more garden cities. He quotes the chairman of the company, at a shareholder's meeting in 1912, suggesting that the company could eventually become a National Trust for the development of further garden cities.
Appendix A - Land Tenure in Garden
Mr Williams reiterates the ideas of Thomas Spence used by Howard and discussed in the last chapter of this book. The system of land tenure would need to ensure that the unearned increment was used for the public good. Mr Howard proposed that, at Letchworth, land tenure should be in the form of a perpetual lease, where the tenant paid rent (to cover the interest on the purchase price, legal expenses and a small amount for redemption of the capital), and also an improvement rate (to pay for services provided by the company). The rent would eventually disappear, but the rate would include provision of schools, libraries, gas, water, electricity, etc and might become costly.
The difficulty was that the share capital raised at first was only about half that needed to cover the mortgage on the original purchase. After consideration of different forms of lease, and an experiment with 999 years leases with rates to be revised upwards periodically as the land increased in value, 99 year fixed rent leases were decided upon, with covenants on value of buildings, building line, nuisance, good order and repair, etc, and a revisable charge for road maintenance and services.
The author argues that this system of tenure retains the greater part of the unearned increment for the benefit of the inhabitants as a whole. Some early fixed rent leases have resulted in some unearned increment falling into private hands.
[The above is only a short summary of Mr Williams's essay.]
Appendix B - The Planning of
The estate consisted of 3,800 acres of undulating land
on the Cambridge branch of the G.N.R. which bisected the land running
south-west north-east. Good road communication with main line Hitchin
Station was essential to the scheme.
Parallel to the Cambridge branch line were the Hitchin-Baldock road to the south, the Norton-Wilbury road and the Icknield Way (an ancient pre-Roman track) to the north, which would all need to be part of the road scheme of the town. There is no north-south route east of Dunham Lane.
In Unwin's words:
The factory area to the east of the estate was chosen because of level land for sidings, and because of the prevailing wind direction in relation to smoke, smell and noise. The attractive Letchworth end of the estate, closer to Hitchin Station, would be best suited for residences of well-to-do people needing main-line trains, but good-sized plots for larger houses were made in many other places to avoid segregation. The old manor house of Letchworth Hall would be a pleasing spot for a pleasure park, as would Norton Common.
A plateau area to the west of Norton Way was ideal for laying out the town centre on a line between the best place for the passenger railway station in the deepest part of the cutting, and the residential area on the Hitchin Road. The passenger station and goods yard are thus located apart despite the preference of the railway company for them to be together. The position of three old oak trees actually determined the position of the axial line of the town centre.
A spacious square decorated with trees was thought to be appropriate for the centre, with municipal buildings and the church being dominant.
For housing, the main ideals were that all houses should have a garden and that all rooms should be flooded with light and sunshine, unblocked by other buildings.
Appendix C - The Garden City
First Garden City is a joint-stock under companies acts in force at the time of registration (1st September 1903). The following are sections from the memorandum of association of the company:
The articles of association contain the following important clause:
Of the authorised share capital of £300,000, the amount subscribed by 30 September 1913 was £181,026. Shareholders include members of the Commons and Lords, church dignitaries, manufacturers, merchants, newspaper proprietors, academics and professional men.
The initial mortgage of £83,934 has risen to £158,442 following expenditure on gas, water, sewerage, highways, and land improvements. [Tables showing year by year money raised and money spent by the company are given in the book - not reproduced here.] The final table gives yearly profit and loss on the revenue account:
In Craske's words:
The following is from the valuers' report:
Extract from the Directors' report:
The directors of the company are:
In addition to the above. the following gentlemen have at different times acted as directors:
Appendix D - The Public Services
of Garden City
The writer of this article stresses the importance of surveying of contours which was carried out at 5-foot levels. The subsoil on the sate is mainly chalk, with deposits of boulder clay, gravel and sand.
In 1904, G. R. Strachan, M.Inst.C.E., was instructed to prepare a water-supply scheme. A 16-inch foot borehole was sunk 220 feet deep, on the north of the Baldock Road, and a suction gas type pump installed 150 feet below ground. A 250,000 gallon reservoir was constructed on the Weston Hills requiring a further 165 feet of lift. Consumption increased and a supply to Baldock laid on, requiring a second duplicate borehole in 1907, this time with electric pump now that power was available. Consumption was 85 million gallons in 1912, by which time 25 miles of main had been laid. A third borehole (24 inches, 210 feet) was sunk, all three being within 60 feet of each other. A second, 500,000 gallon reservoir has been built, with a reinforced concrete roof, and designed with a strong wall along one side so that a second one can be built adjoining with the capability of either being emptied while the other remains full. Expenditure on the water supply to September 1912 was £26,183 with a further £7,000 being spent on No. 3 well and further mains.
Charles Hunt, M.Inst.C.E., was instructed to design a gas works. It was thought 6,000,000 cubic feet per annum would suffice for the near future. The new works was producing gas by September 1905. There were 8 retorts and a gasholder, 52 feet diameter, 27,000 cubic feet capacity, with provision for telescoping in the future. 9 miles of main were laid. Demand rose rapidly, and consumption by industry in the day meant the holder could not be filled sufficiently to cope with the night load in the housing. 12 more retorts, and a second holder, 62 feet diameter, 100,000 cubic feet in 2 lifts, was added in 1908. Demand continued to rise, and the first holder was telescoped and a third one of 300,000 cubic feet built, while 24 more retorts were added. In 1912 consumption was 50,000,000 cubic feet, 63% being consumed in daylight hours. Consumers are supplied with a meter and gas stove free of charge. The streets of Letchworth are lit by gas. Up to September 1912, £38,644 had been spent on the gas supply, with a further £6,000 being spent since.
Messrs. O'Gorman & Cozens (now Messrs. Baillie & Dolbree) were instructed in 1907 to prepare plans for a power station. The first plant comprised two 100-horse power horizontal gas suction engines, with dynamos, batteries and switchboard. The engines can be driven by town or producer gas. The supply produced 130 kW three-phase at 250/500 volts. A battery of 260 cells stored 600 ampere hours. Underground, lead-sheathed steel-armoured cables supply the factories, shopping streets and public buildings, but not, so far, the scattered housing. In 1910, a 200 hp diesel engine supplying a 135 kW dynamo was added, and in 1911, a further 420 hp diesel engine supplying a 280 kW dynamo. In 1912, 460,070 B.T.U's were generated. The total spent on electricity supply to September 1912 was £20,983.
The late G. R. Strachan designed the sewerage scheme being constructed. The separate system has been employed where foul-water and rainwater drainage are kept apart in separate pipe work. A temporary drainage area of 30 acres is used to deal with the foul-water before the main works are ready. The main outfall is 24 inches. The total cost so far is £18,000 with a further £5,000 to be spent on trunk sewers.
About 14 miles of roads have been constructed. The need for future widening of carriageways has had to be taken into account. Norton Way has a 16-foot carriageway, 12-foot greenswards adjacent to the carriageway, and 10-foot paths, the total being 60 feet between boundaries. Leys Avenue (in the shopping area) has a 24-foot carriage way, 16-foot adjacent greenswards, and 5-foot paths. The appearance is better where the greenswards (rather than the paths) are adjacent to the carriageway, but this arrangement results in the grass being down-trodden where the foot traffic is heavy (shopping areas) or children play in the streets (in the working class areas). In the shopping areas the greenswards have been planted with shrubs and protected with low fences, but elsewhere the alternative arrangement (paths next to carriageway) has now been adopted.
(I) The Building of Workmen's
Cottages in Garden City
Pearsall states that the most important class of any population is its artisans and labourers. At Letchworth, housing for these people is unlike that in almost any other industrial town, being varied and pleasant to look at, in pleasant streets, with pleasing views.
The remainder of part (I.) of this appendix is a discussion of rents.
(II) The Cottage Companies of Garden City
[It is not clear if parts II and III of Appendix E are by Pearsall or Purdom.]
This section comprises a table giving financial information about four companies which have built cottages in Letchworth. These are (with number of cottages built) Garden City Tenants, Ltd (326), Letchworth Cottages and Buildings, Ltd (197), Howard Cottage Society, Ltd (268), Letchworth Housing Society, Ltd (58). The author mentions that workmen's cottages have also been built by Hitchin Rural District Council, First Garden City, Ltd, Messrs J. M. Dent & Sons, Ltd, and many private persons.
(III) A Simple Hot-water System for Cottages
This section mentions two improvements to building methods - the "rodding eye" system of drainage, and a simple hot water system specially designed for cottages by S. H. Donnelly, A.M.I.M.E., Chief Assistant Engineer to the Garden City Company. This incorporates a three-way-valve which enables a bath to be located on the ground or upstairs floor, and does not need a cold water tank and associated pipe work vulnerable to frost damage.
Appendix F -
Agriculture and Small-holdings in Garden City
The author states that the estate comprising 3818 acres was in the hands of 15 absentee landowners, who rented it to tenants for between 8s. 6d. to 25s. per acre. Most was under arable steam cultivation (being cheaper than horse labour) producing corn, with a little pastoral at Letchworth Park and by the River Ivel. Much of the land was neglected and two of the farm-houses were uninhabitable. This reflected the hard times through which agriculture had passed.
A difficult task for the company was taking in land for building by agreement with tenants and mortgagees. Satisfactory arrangements were made for all but one tenant who claimed damages by visitors. About 1000 acres of the land has been brought in hand and either developed or let at short tenancies. The original tenants are gone and the undeveloped land now worked pastorally being more convenient for access by surveyors and others.
The company desired to make small-holdings but had no capital for cottages or buildings. The offer to would-be small-holders had to be as follows:
Some 300 acres have been taken up under this system of letting, but have not had great success, most being taken by townsmen lacking knowledge of the business.
A society was let 150 acres on 21 years lease at Norton in 1905. Ten cottages were built and holdings of up to 20 acres created. Despite the enthusiasm of the management, the land is reverting to larger occupations. The author thinks that 100 to 300 acres is required for a viable farm, and that small-holdings should only be available to those working on farms and wanting a stepping-stone to a better position.
Appendix G - The Garden City
in Relation to Local Authorities
The author outlines the situation regarding authority boundaries as it was when the estate was purchased and how this has developed since. The estate was mainly in the three parishes of Norton, Letchworth and Willian. In 1807 the company applied to Hertfordshire County Council, under the Local Government Act of 1888, for the creation of a new parish, comprising practically the whole estate, and this was granted by the Local Government Board, after an enquiry. The new parish of Letchworth came into being on 1 April 1908 with a council of fifteen members. The parts of Willian not in the estate remained a separate parish. Small parts of the estate were not in the new parish, but remained in the Hertfordshire parishes of Radwell and Great Wymondley, and the Bedfordshire parish of Stotfield. The recent purchase of 748 acres of the Roxley Estate brought more of Willian parish into the estate.
The new Letchworth parish, and the parishes of Radwell and Willian, are within the rural district of Hitchin, which is within Hertfordshire County Council. The parish of Stotfield is within the rural district of Biggleswade, which is within Bedfordshire County Council.
Apart from railway land, school sites, and a few other small exceptions, all the land in the estate is owned by First Garden City Ltd. The new roads in the estate were laid out and built at the company's expense. Some have been taken over by Hertfordshire County Council, but most are maintained by the company using charges made under covenants to lessees whose land abuts the roads. The sewerage system, street lighting, and water, gas, electricity supply systems are all provided by the company.
The author goes on the say that in the fullness of time the authorities will have increased powers and take over the roads and services, the charges being transferred from the lessees to the rates.
Appendix H - How Far have the
Original Garden City Ideals been Realised ?
Quoting Howard's words from this article:
Howard goes on to express his disappointment at the confounding, in the public mind and in the press, of the Garden City idea of building new towns, with that of the building of garden suburbs as extensions to existing towns.
He goes on to point out that in his book he described a completed town, avoiding discussion of difficulties in the initial stages. What such difficulties would be he could not entirely foresee. An early difficulty was the financial one. The company went to allotment when only £75,000 of the authorised capital of £300,000 had been raised.
The system of rent-rates as he described in his book had not been achieved at Letchworth. His system involved rents being revised from time to time as land values increased. Lawyers advised intending leaseholders against signing up for such options because such leases would be difficult to sell.
Another disappointment was the shopping arrangements which have developed on conventional lines. Howard urged the Co-operative Wholesale Society to participate but they joined the general scepticism, regarding the experiment as hopeless. He thinks that in a future second garden city, a subsidiary company or society should be formed at the outset to provide everything the townspeople should need at a little over cost price.
Howard was also disappointed that not more of workers' cooperative ventures had arisen.
Appendix J - Garden City and
the Town-planning Movement
Quoting from this article:
The author goes on to say that the first fruits of the foundation of the First Garden City are the development in Great Britain of more than forty garden suburbs and industrial garden villages. He goes on to praise Hampstead Garden Suburb - the limitation of houses to the acre, grouping of principal buildings round a central area, generous provision of open spaces and playgrounds, preservation of natural features, lay-out of the roads, architecture of the houses - all show that sympathetic minds have been at work rather than those of the speculative builder.
The author goes on to describe the work of the Garden Cities and Town Planning Association, founded to promote garden city schemes with advice, lectures and conferences. He praises John Burn's Housing and Town Planning Act of 1909 and summarises its achievements.
(I) The Garden City Building Regulations
Purdom points out that the Garden City company has no special statutory powers not possessed by any landlord under the ordinary law of the land. The company has drawn up building regulations which must be complied with by all who build upon the estate. The regulations are not by-laws and are only enforceable under the terms of the leases and agreements granted by the company. The regulations include the local authority by-laws but go much further and contains some novel and interesting clauses.
Parts of the regulation are reprinted in the text (not reproduced here) under the headings: Plans, Building Areas, Designs, Temporary Structures, Gardens, Fences, Signs, Walls, Roofs (materials), Sufficiency of Space around Buildings for free Circulation of Air, Ventilation of Public Buildings, Drainage, Materials, Plastering, Timber, Floors, Roofs (designs).
(II) The Form of Lease granted at Garden City
The lease issued by the Garden City company has a simple form. Some clauses are printed in the text (not reproduced here).
List of Illustrations
Colour Plates (by T. Friedensen)
*Houses near Norton Common
In the text
Robert Owen's Plan of the Agricultural and Manufacturing Villages of
"Unity" and "Mutual Co-operation" (1818)