- Origins of the Suburb:
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 and her husband Canon Samuel Barnett owned a cottage in Hampstead. However the fields surrounding their weekend retreat came under threat when in 1900, an American businessman, Charles Tyson 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 lands (originally priced at £48,000) to preserve the unspoilt countyside of the Heath, and at the same time to develop her Garden Suburb. Initially she wanted 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 Eton College Trustees recieved 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 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 œ140,000.
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 dennsity 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 destruction of the countyside.
In Henrietta's own words from her article in the Contemporary Review:
'that the part should not spoil the whole, not the individual rights be allowed to work communal of individual wrongs - hence, that houses shoud 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, not 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 not be 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 countryside place names e.g. Willifield, Asmuns and Temple Fortune. Others were names of those who 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, Erskin 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 from this point was rapid, and by October of the same year the houses which are now known as 140 and 142 Hampstead Way were completed. Also in 1907, Cenral 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 built 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. The 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 Leashold 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. and ammounted to 300 acres. The Trust leased an additional 74 acres 'Finchley Leasehold Estate' and this became the 'new Suburb'.
Even though the 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 By-Pass. Its impact was to dissect the Suburb. The building of the By-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 the 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 ammounted steadily until eventually in 1967 a Joint Action Committee (which included the Residents' Assocation) 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 architectual interest and placed them on a statutory list of protected buildings. In 1974, the London Borough of Barnet establish 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 that 500 of the earliest buildings with their Arts and Crafts doors, tiles ans fireplaces were listed as Grade II, and nearly 30 of the larger houses were upgraded from Grade II to Grade II*.