Hampstead Garden Suburb is an area of outstanding architectural importance situated to the north west of London. In 1951, Nikolaus Pevsner in his Buildings of England - Middlesex described it as 'the aesthetically most satisfactory and socially most successful of C20 garden suburbs.'
The Suburb was the vision and accomplishment of Henrietta Octavia Barnett (later Dame Henrietta).
Henrietta was born in 1851 to a wealthy family. However, from a young age she wanted to help the less privileged.
In 1873 she married Canon Samuel Barnett who also saw his vocation as working amongst the poor. So as soon as the couple were married, they moved to Whitechapel to be amongst the poverty and appalling housing conditions. Together they aimed to encourage self-discipline and self-help amongst the working class community.
Samuel and Henrietta remained in Whitechapel until 1907. Samuel Barnett was the vicar of St. Jude's, Whitechapel (and later became Canon of Bristol and Westminster
), and in 1884, Samuel and Henrietta founded Toynbee Hall, a university settlement where they both worked as wardens.
The idea of a Garden Suburb arose as a result of these experiences of East End
poverty. Henrietta wanted to create an estate where the working classes could live within pleasant surroundings. The Garden Suburb concept itself was derived from the views of Ebenezer Howard and the Garden Cities Movement.
Origins of the Suburb
Whilst working in Whitechapel, the Barnetts had one escape from their surroundings - a weekend cottage in Hampstead which they had named St. Jude's.
However, the fields surrounding the cottage came under threat when in 1900 an American businessman, Charles Terson Yerks, resurrected an 1893 scheme to extend the underground from Charing Cross
to Hampstead and Golders Green. This would have given easy access to the nearby Wyldes farm and have opened the way for speculative builders.
Henrietta set about purchasing these 80 acres of land (originally priced at £48,000) to preserve the unspoilt countryside of the Heath, and at the same time to develop her Garden Suburb. Initially she wanted to place these 80 acres of Heath Extension in the ownership of the London County Council in perpetuity. However, it soon became obvious that the plan to build a Garden Suburb would only succeed if more land was acquired. This meant purchasing the whole of the Wyldes Estate, a total of 323 acres.
In 1903 the Hampstead Heath Council was formed for the purpose of purchasing the initial 80 acres of land from Eton College
by public subscription. Henrietta Barnett was the Honorary Secretary and launched an appeal straight away. She also needed to get the sympathy of the local councillors, which she hoped to do by proclaiming that the suburb would solve Hampstead's housing problems.
However, when the Eton College Trustees received Henrietta's offer of purchase, she was refused on the account that she was 'merely' a woman. So she formed a 'syndicate of eight' which included Lord Crewe, Lord Grey, Sir John Goriest, Sir Robert Hunter, Herbert Farnham, Walter Hazel, the Bishop of London, Dr Winnington and herself (two Earls, two lawyers, two free Churchmen, a bishop and a woman.) Their first meeting took place on 12th May 1904 when they constituted themselves as the Garden Suburb Trust.
Their aim was to carry on the Heath Extension campaign and at the same time plan the layout of the Garden Suburb. Negotiations with the Eton
trustees continued and company formation was discussed. In March 1906, the Garden Suburb Trust became the Hampstead Garden Suburb Trust Ltd. Finally, on 27th March 1907, all of the land was conveyed to the London County Council. This 323 acres of land had cost £140,000.
Building the Suburb
In 1905 Henrietta published an article in the Contemporary Review stating that she wanted to create a place where the rich and poor could live together. The estate would be aesthetically pleasing as it would consist of low density housing and would be planned as a whole, a mixture of buildings and nature. The community would be served by a range of local amenities including churches, libraries, schools and shops. It would be a suburb for all, the old, the young and the handicapped. Nobody would be excluded. Henrietta wanted to bring different classes together rather than create a classless community. She hoped that the result would avoid the worst evils of conventional suburbs of the time - social segregation and the destruction of the countryside.
In Henrietta's own words from her article in the Contemporary Review:
'that the part should not spoil the whole, nor the individual rights be allowed to work communal or individual wrongs - hence, that houses should not spoil each other's outlook;that the estate be planned not piecemeal, but as a whole; that houses should not be in uniform lines, nor close relationship, nor built regardless of each other, nor without consideration for picturesque appearance; that each house be surrounded by its own garden; and that there be agencies for fostering interest in gardens and allotments and for the co-operative lending of tools; that every road be planted with trees and be not more than 40" wide; that the noise of the children be locally limited; that there be all the advantages of a community - houses of prayer, a library, schools, a lecture hall, club houses, shops, baths, washhouses, bakehouses, refreshment rooms, arbours, co-operative stores, playgrounds for smaller children and resting places for the aged who cannot walk far.'
The head architect employed by Henrietta was Raymond Unwin. He had the responsibility of surveying and planning the estate as a whole. Edwin Lutyens was appointed to plan the centrepiece, Central Square
. In choosing names for the Suburb roads, Henrietta Barnett and Raymond Unwin looked to a variety of sources for inspiration. Some were old countryside place names, e.g. Willifield, Asmuns and Temple Fortune
. Others were names of the those who had helped secure the Suburb, Grey, Falloden and Winnington. There were also names of the first Board of Co-Partnerships, Brunner, Greenhalgh and Litchfield. There were names of architects, Sutcliffe and Lucas; names of lawyers, Denman, Erskine and Chatham; names of poets, Wordsworth, Coleridge and Kingsley; and names of artists, Turner, Reynolds and Raeburn.
It was on the 2nd May 1907, that Henrietta ceremoniously cut the first sod of grass. Building work form this point was rapid, and by October of the same year the houses that are now known as 140 and 142 Hampstead Way
were completed. Also in 1907, Central Square
was constructed with its showcase buildings of St. Jude's' Church, the Free Church, and the Institute.
Although the Hampstead Garden Suburb Trust Ltd. owned and administered the suburb, a large section of the housing was built by the Co-Partnership companies. The Co-Partnership Tenants Ltd. was formed in June 1907, and they aimed to build houses for all classes, but especially for the working class. They had a dividend limitation of 5% which limited their profits. The tenants of the houses were the investors, and after expenses had been deducted, surplus profits were divided amongst these tenants in proportion to the rent that they paid. This profit was given in shares only.
Other companies which were involved in the construction of housing in the period before the First World War were the Improved Industrial Dwelling Company Ltd. and the Garden Suburb Development Company (Hampstead) Ltd.
There were also Suburb Tenants Societies who elected their own Board of Management. The Hampstead Tenants Ltd. and the Second and Third Hampstead Tenants Ltd. (formed 1907, 1909 and 1910 respectively) and finally the Oakwood Tenants Ltd. formed in 1913. The impact of all these companies was considerable, as they increased the size of the Suburb by more than twofold during the period in which they were building.
The modern Suburb consists of three developmental areas. The first area of development was the 243 acres of freehold bought by the Hampstead Garden Suburb Trust Ltd. from the Eton College Trustees in 1907 and the 'Hendon Leasehold Estate' which was leased by the Trust in 1908 from the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. This area is now known as the 'old Suburb'. The second area was leased from the Ecclesiastical Commissioners in 1911-12. This land in Finchley was assigned to the Co-Partnership Tenants Ltd. in 1919. The third wave of development was to the north and east of the 'old Suburb'. This was leased from the Ecclesiastical Commissioners by the Co-Partnership Tenants Ltd. and amounted to 300 acres. The Trust leased an additional 74 acres 'Finchley Leasehold Estate' and this became the 'new Suburb'.
Even though these companies provided humbler housing, there was a shortage of working class residents. This was partly a result of the cost of the houses, but also it was because there was no local employment. Building costs rose during the First World War, and although the Co-Partners built more new houses, they tended to be for middle-class residents. Originally it had been intended that at least a third of the Suburb would consist of houses for the working class, however by 1918 only a tenth had been provided, and this number steadily decreased. Over time the Suburb became almost entirely middle class.
It was also from the time of the First World War that relations between the Trust and the Co-Partners started to deteriorate. In November 1914, Unwin became the Chief Architect to the Local Government Board and in 1915 Sutcliffe, the Co-Partners' architect, died. The inflation of the 1920s resulted in less capital being available, and so it was more difficult to maintain the building work at the pre-war standard. Eventually building by the Co-Partners diminished and houses were built for sale. Finally the Co-Partnership companies were absorbed by Co-Partnership Tenants Ltd.
The Suburb had grown rapidly before 1936, but by this date building had virtually been completed. The Suburb had become home to nearly 16,000 people.
The idea of the Suburb being designed as a whole was greatly affected by the Barnet Bye-pass. Its impact was to dissect the Suburb. The building of the Bye-pass was announced by the Ministry of Transport in 1923. The Hampstead Garden Suburb Residents' Association immediately protested, however construction started in 1926, and by 1928 the road was finished. Plans to extend this road arose in the 1950s when Falloden Way
, the Market Place and Lyttelton Road
were designated to be part of the Lorry Route
which would serve the docks. Opposition mounted steadily until eventually in 1967 a Joint Action Committee (which included the Residents' Association) was formed. In 1968 a public enquiry was held and the scheme was abandoned.
The Second World War also had its impact. Due to the Suburb's proximity to Hendon Aerodrome, many bombs fell in the area. The Club House (designed by Unwin), for example, was destroyed, and later replaced by the Fellowship House.
The architectural importance of the area still remained despite the bombing, and in 1964 and 1965 the Ministry of Housing and Local Government recognised that more than 60 of the older buildings were of special architectural interest and placed them on a statutory list of protected buildings. In 1974, the London Borough of Barnet established the whole of the Suburb as one of five Conservation Areas within its boundaries. The Department of the Environment designated the whole of the 'old Suburb' and some parts of the 'new Suburb' built before the First World War as an outstanding Conservation Area. In 1996, more than 500 of the earliest buildings with their Arts and Crafts doors, tiles and fireplaces were listed as Grade II, and nearly 30 of the larger houses were upgraded from Grade II to Grade II*.
Facilities in the Suburb
Henrietta wanted the Suburb to contain all the facilities that were needed by each individual within the local community. The facilities listed below are described in more detail if they feature significantly in the archives.
Places of learning included the Institute, the Henrietta Barnett School
, Child's Way School
and the Wellgarth Nursery Training College
The Institute, 'the home of education in the suburb', was founded in March 1908. It was a place to learn and study (it housed a library) and it encouraged groups and societies, concerts, debates and conferences. It was also a place for entertainment where many theatrical productions were staged, especially by the Play and Pageant Union (formed in 1920).
When the North Wing of the Institute was completed, a small kindergarten for six children opened in 1912. This was the origins of the Henrietta Barnett Junior and Senior Schools
. The school expanded to become an infant school in 1909, and a junior high school in 1914. Both of these schools were only intended to be temporary. In 1914, boys were excluded and made to attend the newly opened Child's Way School
(a school for boys and girls up to the age of 12 years). The Board of Education recognised the Barnett School
as a two form entry Independent Secondary School
for Girls in 1920. In 1938, the Junior School
moved out of the Institute into its own premises in Bigwig Road
, and in 1940 the Infants' school was demolished after land mine damage. In 1966 plans were underway to remove the remainder of the school to a site in Chalgrove Gardens
The Wellgarth Nursery Training College
was founded in 1911 by the Women's Industrial Council in a purpose built building. Students had to be at least 17 years of age and undertook a year of study. Trainee nurses were taught children's laundry work, cooking, housewifery, physiology, hygiene, needlework and child psychology.
Communal living facilities for certain groups of people were also built to fulfil Henrietta's objective to provide for all in the Suburb. The Orchard and Adelaide House were built for the elderly, Waterlow and Meadway Court
for single professional women and Queen's Court and Emmott Close were sponsored by the United Women's Homes Association.
The Orchard was designed by Barry Parker and Raymond Unwin in 1908. Henrietta wanted a place where elderly people could live in one bedroom flats at reasonable prices. When the original building fell into disrepair in the 1960s, the Residents' Association intervened, and in 1964 the Orchard Housing Society Ltd. was registered. The Orchard was demolished in 1970, and rebuilt to the design of the architect Michael Dark.
Places of worship were adequately provided for in the Suburb. In March 1911, the foundation stones of the Free Church were laid, and in May 1911, St Jude's Church (named after the church in Whitechapel at which Samuel Barnett had been minister) was consecrated. Both were designed by Edwin Lutyens. In 1935, a synagogue was consecrated by the Chief Rabbi.
For recreational purposes, the Friends Meeting House had opened in 1913, and there was also a community centre named Club House on Willifield Green. During the First World War it was used as a hospital for wounded soldiers.
In 1954, the Co-Partnership Tenants Ltd. made an unsuccessful bid for Hampstead Garden Suburb Trust shares. This take-over attempt encouraged the Trust to create 60,000 deferred shares which were held by organisations who would safeguard the future of the Trust. These were the Henrietta Barnett Board, the Hampstead Garden Suburb Institute, the Bournville Village Trust and the National Trust.
By 1957, Co-Partnership Tenants Ltd. had become Suburb Leaseholds Ltd., and in 1959 these were taken over by Metrovincial Properties Ltd. In 1960, Metrovincial Properties Ltd. was sold to City and General Investments Company Ltd, which later became City Centre Properties Ltd.
In 1961, the Directors of the Trust began to think about selling off the trust to clear debts. They had previously suggested that a 2,000 year lease of the Trust's property would be granted to the Suburb Leaseholds Ltd. for £553,930. The formation of a new Hampstead Garden Suburb Community Trust was also suggested to administer the suburb on behalf of certain charities.
The response to the sale was the formation of the Protection Society by local residents in January 1962. The chairman was Jean Henderson. The Society's aim was to prevent the sale of the Suburb, and thus a petition was initiated which was heard in the High Court in May 1962. As a result, it was found that there were irregularities in the notice given by the Trust to the shareholders concerning its intentions to sell. In November 1963 the Protection Society merged with the Residents' Association (founded 1909 as the Garden Suburb's Ratepayers Association).
The sale went ahead in 1961, when the Suburb was sold to the Clore Property Group. However, the Trust was prohibited from winding itself up and passing the proceeds to the proposed Hampstead Garden Community Trust.
By October 1962 a public meeting was held at the Institute to open a Private Bill Fund. The aim was to take Parliamentary action to keep the suburb as Henrietta intended it to be. This was a reasonable precaution, as the Leasehold Reform Act, passed in 1967, had enabled residents to buy their freeholds. There was a serious risk of the character of Suburb being lost.
In September 1968, the Trust was finally wound up. The Protection Society was instrumental in the subsequent formation of the two new organisations that would look after the Suburb. The New Hampstead Garden Suburb Trust would preserve amenities and the Hampstead Garden Suburb Charitable Trust would distribute surplus income.
Also, in 1968, Suburb Leaseholds Ltd. applied for a Scheme of Management for the Suburb which would control leaseholders who decided to enfanchise.
The Suburb was sold again in 1969 to the Ashdale Land
and Property Co. Ltd. Some of Ashdale's interests were later bought by Freshwater Property Co. Ltd.
In July 1970, a joint management scheme was planned by the New Hampstead Garden Suburb Trust Ltd. and Ashdale Property Company Ltd. At the same time the Protection Society announced that it was winding up business, as it had achieved all that it possibly could. It was not until 1974 that the application for the Scheme of Management was heard by the High Court. Once it was approved, the New Trust was able to act as attorney for all the Ashdale holdings in the Suburb.
This information is courtesy of the National Archives.