View my previous blog here: http://bazzablog-uk.blogspot.com

I reply to all comments except spam, no matter how old!

I have decided not to accept awards although I appreciate the thought behind them.



Sunday, 6 September 2015

Romford Garden Suburb

I led my Sunday morning walking group on a tour around Romford Garden Suburb today. After Hampstead Garden Suburb was built in north-west London in 1907 some of the investors wanted to build another project in north-east London. Sir Herbert Raphael had the idea of a competition for the best house designs in order to generate publicity for the project.
The Garden City movement had begun with the building of the world's first Garden City in Letchworth in 1903.
Sir Herbert owned a large estate with a mansion (Gidea Hall) and grounds all around it. He donated 90 acres on the western flank as a public park and founded a golf club to the east. This had the effect of preserving the surroundings and stopping encroachment into the area. Although I live only about seven miles from this area, until researching local places, I had never heard of it; as it turned out nor had any of my friends! It seems to be an incredible local secret although it was the talk of London when it opened in 1911. Around 122 of the leading architects of the era designed 159 homes for the exhibition. A great variety of English architectural styles were on display and there was plenty of reference to local styles as known in the surrounding County of Essex. The influence of the Arts and Crafts Movement of the time is very evident. In the map below I have outlined the local Conservation Area in red and if you find UK postcode RM2 5JB on Google Maps you can go down to street level and see many of the interesting house designs. I have shown a selection of photos that my wife took below.
The area of The Exhibition Estate (as it is known) shown bordered in red.
There were two classes of homes for the competition: Four bedroom 'Family homes' to sell at £500, well above average for the time, and also three bedroom 'Cottages' to sell at £375.
Many of the houses are now valued at between one and two million pounds.
I particularly like this style with herring-bone brickwork set in the Tudor oak beams.
Designed by Michael Bunney and Clifford Makins.
Most of the homes have retained their chimney stacks as an architectural feature
This Philip Tilden designed property is Grade II listed.
In the UK that means one can't make external changes but as the property is in a 
conservation area anyway it's doubly protected.
This house has, unusually, had its two tall chimneys removed. It was designed by
Clough Williams-Ellis who later designed Portmeirion in Wales where the  cult TV series
The Prisoner was filmed in the 1960s.
This picture, taken from Google Maps, is of  the Class 1 Family Home first-prize winner in 1911. It was designed by Geoffrey Lucas. Don't forget that these buildings were not judged on their prettiness but rather their utility, ease and economy of management and maintenance.
In 1934 a second competition was held to help sell the few vacant plots that were available. All of those new homes were in the Art Deco style that was dominant at that time.
A graceful Art Deco door and window

Another of the successful 1934 designs (some of them are disappointing).
Finally, this house won the 1934 first prize by probably the most famous of the architects, Berthold Lubetkin, co-founder of the influential Tecton Group.
As I am in a good mood I am listening to Jackson Browne's lovely Linda Paloma. Listen here!

15 comments:

Philip Wilkinson said...

Fascinating, Bazza. I've not been here so it's great to read about the place and see the photos.

Starting Over, Accepting Changes - Maybe said...

All the houses are lovely, but I especially I especially liked the second cottage. That is a tour that I would have enjoyed taking.u

bazza said...

Philip: I thought this post would be interesting to you. It really is an amazing experience full of the very best in Edwardian house design and almost a total secret. Some of the residents,saw our group and came out to speak to us. One chap said that he felt that he was merely the custodian of his house and another chap apologised that he could not invite us in as he had house-guests!

bazza said...

Arleen: We loved each new property best as we walked past. Some of the larger properties are described as being suitable for families with "only one domestic servant" in the original catalogue. It was still the age of Downton Abbey.....

Dixie@dcrelief said...

Outrageous house - those designs are tough. Loved Jackson Brown. Also I posted a 'shagging' video for you - US style, ofcourse.

bazza said...

Hi Dixie. Outrageous, tough? Maybe those words have new meanings. I would have said 'quaint' and 'expensive'! I will checkout that video.

Sherry Ellis said...

I enjoyed seeing those pictures. I'm surprised though, that the last house won first place in 1934. It's very modernistic, but not what I would call attractive.

bazza said...

Hi Sherry. Most people would agree with you (including me) bur attractiveness was not the judging criteria but rather it was utility. It was very much 'of it's own time' in it's design That was the house where the owner came out and apologised that he could not invite us in as he had guests. He did say we were welcome to go into his attractive garden but I felt it would have been an intrusion. We could see it over the fence anyway! Take a look:
https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@51.5942363,0.1939533,3a,75y,174.45h,79.62t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1szs77jyATeQo72d0c-WkpEQ!2e0!7i13312!8i6656

joanne fox said...

I have relatives in Letchworth, and have seen houses there in similar styles to the older ones above. If I had to pick one for myself, I'd go for the third one down. I can rustle up £500, but I don't know about the rest!

I quite like the Deco houses too, although the last one looks rather boxy from the outside. Hopefully it does have some windows on the other walls!

bazza said...

Hi Joanne. I do like Letchworth very much. My favourite from the photos is the first one which is in a terrace of three. Every other house on the estate is detached!
Even in real terms (say, as a percentage of income) they were great value back then!

All Consuming said...

Cracking post bazza. The most famous designer managed to produce the worst house it seems. Hahahaha. I like the one by the chap who went on to design Portmerion. What a fascinating thing to find out. I'll be this happened all over the country. I must look into it for Manchester. There are certainly areas where the differences between each house, is so striking it seems strange.

All Consuming said...

Cracking post bazza. The most famous designer managed to produce the worst house it seems. Hahahaha. I like the one by the chap who went on to design Portmerion. What a fascinating thing to find out. I'll be this happened all over the country. I must look into it for Manchester. There are certainly areas where the differences between each house, is so striking it seems strange.

bazza said...

So good you posted it twice! I am sure Manchester would have something like this but you might not have to spend a million pounds - yet.
I hope you listened to Linda Paloma :-)

Hels said...

The garden city movement was a British approach to urban planning that was founded by Sir Ebenezer Howard. Howard’s book Garden Cities of Tomorrow: A Peaceful Path to Real Reform came out in 1898, just one year before he founded the Garden City Association in 1899.

So I was quite surprised to start my journey through Garden Cities in Bedford Park, years before Howard's writing and organising. Then Letchworth Garden City 1899, Hampstead Garden Suburb 1907 and Welwyn Garden City 1919, all of them in or near Greater London. That led to investigating planned suburbs and towns well north of London, and in Australia, Israel, USA and other countries.

But you are correct. Noone ever mentioned Romford Garden Suburb. I will create a link, many thanks
Hels
http://melbourneblogger.blogspot.com.au/2009/01/garden-cities.html

bazza said...

Hi Hels. Coincidentally I am repeating that walk this Sunday (26th June) for the benefit of my wife's WIZO group! Sir Herbert Raphael, a local Jewish barrister (and later a Liberal MP) who created Romford Garden Suburb had also been a major investor in the Hampstead scheme.