What follows is an extract from an article that appeared in the February 1907 edition of The Wolverhampton Journal. It describes Fallings Park Garden Suburb, as it was originally conceived. In reality the project was never completed, only 70 to 80 houses out of the proposed 4,000 or so, were actually built.

A Great Social Opportunity

To the outsider who has never been to Wolverhampton, it is one of those uninteresting places where the inhabitants are engaged in the manufacture of corrugated iron, electrical fittings, motor cars, bicycles, and locks, and where the consideration of those things which tend to refine and elevate human character is made subservient to the making of money.

As the ‘Capital of the Black Country’ it represents in a superlative degree all the chief qualities of the area which boasts that unhappy designation, whether it is in its capacity to turn out manufactured goods of the highest grade, or to convert the natural beauties of the country into a black and smoky wilderness, permeated with reeking canals, covered with pit banks, and slummy rows of jerry-built houses, with here and there a stunted tree raising its skeleton form against the horizon, as if in protest against the destruction of nature.

And can we wonder at this outside impression, false though it be, as we think of the railway approach to Wolverhampton, of the unfortunate view of the town which presents itself to the thousands who travel through its least delectable suburbs, without ever knowing more of it than that which is contained in a bird's eye view of Monmore Green, or of Lysaght's forsaken factory site. It is not wonderful that outsiders should ask themselves what            madness has seized those who have chosen Wolverhampton for the creation of a Garden Suburb. And yet there are few towns better fitted for such a development, and few in which the opportunity is more favoured by circumstances than Wolverhampton at the present time.

Old industries are reviving and new industries are rapidly growing up; there is a large proportion of skilled labour in the town earning good wages; there is a public spirit abroad among the governing classes, and a desire for better conditions among the artizans and labourers; land is obtainable at reasonable rates; and the public services have just reached the stage when they can be profitably extended. Before it grows too large, Wolverhampton has an opportunity of directing its future growth, and of saving future ratepayers enormous sums of money.

Methods of Solving the Housing Problem

It is well known that the solution of the housing problem in our large towns has to be secured by the proper development of the suburbs rather than by the reconstruction of existing houses in the centre of the towns, or by the demolition of slums. Attempts to solve the problem by the latter methods frequently lead to great financial loss and, as in Wolverhampton, to an increased burden upon the rates. Some years ago the Corporation purchased 16 acres of slum property, involving a capital outlay of £267,862, or an average of £16,740 per acre. The town has been paying about £6,000 per annum to meet the cost of this scheme. It would have been better to have spent this money in moving the people out into the suburbs, where land can be got at from £200 to £400 per acre. The housing problem of Wolverhampton is to be solved on the outer fringes where land can be obtained at low prices, and connected with the centres by rapid means of transit, and where it is possible to plan new areas before building operations begin. These areas, as well as the houses, should be properly and economically designed from the outset, and not developed on the haphazard method too frequently adopted.

Old Fallings Hall. To be ultimately used in connection with the development of the garden suburb.
Recent developments in the building trade have been in the direction of providing suburban houses, but in most cases these houses have been erected in long monotonous rows, crowded closely together, and without proper provisions being made for air space, recreation ground, main thoroughfares, and sites for public buildings.

This is largely due to the fact that the land is sold at the highest figure obtainable, without any consideration of the public interest.

It is usually assumed by those interested in town development that the only two methods open to consideration are, first, the present haphazard and speculative system of development which proceeds with little regard to public interest; or, second, the purchase of the land outright and its development by the public authority. The first method has become discredited as expensive to the country, and as unhealthy and demoralising in its effects; the second is not yet largely adopted, and the majority of municipalities seem unable or unwilling to embark upon the development of their own suburban areas.

But there is a third alternative, which is as practicable as the first, and as desirable in the public interest as the second, without involving any risk of increasing the burden of the ratepayers. This is the development of private estates on a systematic basis, proper regard being paid to the future needs of the community. It can be secured by the cooperation of the private land owner desirous of developing his estates on right principles, and the local authority interested in securing healthy conditions of life for the population living within the area it controls. It can also be secured in such a way that public expenditure on improvements will benefit the community as a whole. The plan of the Fallings Park Estate, which it is proposed to develop as far as possible on the above principles, is now in course of preparation, and it is hoped to begin development in the Spring of 1907.

What is the Garden City Movement?

The scheme is in many respects what has come to be termed a Garden City scheme, and before explaining the practical steps proposed to be taken, a brief explanation of the genesis and growth of the movement may be useful. In 1898 there was published a book entitled ‘Tomorrow’ from the pen of Mr. Ebenezer Howard, dealing with the physical, social, and industrial conditions of life in large cities, and outlining a scheme for establishing Garden Cities as a practical remedy for the many evils attending the constant growth of large towns and the depopulation of rural districts.

The main contention of Mr. Howard's book was that the towns were growing too large and that they were expanding in an unhealthy and haphazard way. This expansion was being accelerated by the improvement in transit which enabled people to live at considerable distances from their places of employment. Land in large cities, he argued, was too dear for the proper housing of the people; the result was overcrowding and congestion to an alarming extent.

Mr. Howard suggested that the best way to solve the problem was to purchase, at agricultural value, large estates in the country having satisfactory access by railway; attract new industries to these sites and create new towns upon them; and secure for the population thus attracted the unearned increment created by the conversion of the site from agricultural land into building land. Mr. Howard also suggested that the greater part of the estate should be reserved for agricultural purposes and that only one sixth should be built upon, thus permanently preserving a belt of open country round the town.

It was essential to the carrying out of such a scheme that manufacturers should be induced to move their works to the site of the new town.

Assuming that manufacturers go, it was contended, workmen and their families are bound to follow, and the town is bound to grow up.

A view on the estate. Future building sites for villas - 500 feet above sea level.

Garden City Association

The first result of Mr. Howard's book was the formation of an association to educate public opinion on the principles he advocated. The association did not make much headway until in September, 1901, when it held a conference at Bournville, under the chairmanship of Lord Grey. That conference greatly stimulated the movement, because it brought the ideal and practical together, and showed up the possibilities that were attached to Mr. Howard's dream in the light of Mr. Cadbury's concrete illustration of a Garden Village.

Here at Bournville was the manufacturer who had migrated, and here were the people who had followed, housed under ideal conditions and living in close contact with their work. One important point was the statement of Mr. Cadbury that it had paid him over and over again to move his works out of crowded Birmingham into the country.

From that time forward the Garden City Association made great progress and a year later it launched a company of a capital of £20,000, having for its object the purchase of a large agricultural estate in order to carry out an experiment in Mr. Howard's ideas. Capital was raised with little difficulty, and the work of investigating estates was completed in about a year's time. Two estates were finally selected out of a large number visited, one being Chartley Castle, consisting of an estate of 8,000 acres situated between Stafford and Uttoxeter; the other being Letchworth, an estate between three and four thousand acres, 34 miles from London in the county of Herts.

Garden Suburbs: The Limits of Private Enterprise

Another Garden City or rather Garden Suburb scheme is being promoted by a philanthropic company at Hampstead, where about 240 acres have been purchased to develop a residential suburb of London.

Fallings Park Estate

The proposed development of a Garden Suburb of 400 acres on the fringe of Wolverhampton is an important step in the right direction. The owner of the estate is the Rt. Hon. Sir Richard H. Paget, Bart., who recognises the necessity of preventing the continued erection of crowded rows of dwellings in the suburbs of Wolverhampton, and is desirous of laying out his estate on lines which will secure healthy and adequate housing accommodation for the inhabitants.

Design of the Building Area

The design of the whole area is being prepared in advance, on what has come to be known as Garden City principles. Ample provision will be made for wide roads, open spaces for gardening and recreation. The plan of development is being prepared by Mr. Detmar Blow, F.R.LB.A., and Mr. Fernand Billerey, architects.

Situation of Estate

The greater part of the estate is in the Heath Town Urban District, the remainder being in Bushbury and Wednesfield. The total area of Heath Town is only 780 acres, and there is little building land in the district available for the erection of dwellings other than that belonging to Sir Richard Paget. The site is a very healthy one, and lies at the high altitude of from 450 to 513 feet above sea level. As Alderman Berrington said at the recent public meeting, it is a unique site for such a scheme, being of a picturesque character, admirably adapted for drainage and convenient for the supply of water and other public services.

There is a large amount of road frontage on the property immediately available for building development, and this will be taken full advantage of during the first year. The Cannock Road intersects the property at about its centre, and it is proposed that this road should be treated as a public thoroughfare and made sufficiently wide to accommodate a double row of tramlines. It is not intended that this or any of the other roads on the estate should be immediately widened, but simply that sufficient land be reserved at each side of the road to provide for widening when required.

The width of the Cannock Road up to the point where it joins the estate at Park Village is fairly satisfactory, but there is one serious drawback to it being used as a public highway and tram route, namely, the narrow and dangerous bridge which supports the Grand Junction Line of the L. and N.W. Railway. This bridge has long been the subject of complaint of the local authorities, and now that large developments are contemplated beyond Park Village it is a matter of the greatest importance that the widening and heightening of the Bridge should be immediately taken into hand. How soon this can be done will probably depend on whether the various authorities concerned, including the railway company, will be prepared to share in the expense of reconstruction.

Old Fallings Hall. Another view showing the park, to be ultimately reserved as an open space.
Another of the main roads through the estate is the Bushbury Road leading from Heath Town to Bushbury.

This road is unfortunately very narrow at its southern end, but the time will probably soon come when, if Heath Town advances as rapidly in the future as in the past, the Urban Council will require to deal with the slum property which fronts both sides of Church Street.

Suggested New Thoroughfare

On looking at a map of the district it appears evident that a new road could be constructed with great advantage to the whole district from the tunnel in the Wolverhampton Road at Heath Town in a south westwardly direction by Portobello Junction to the Willenhall Road. If some means of communication could be established between these points, there would be an outlet for the huge manufacturing population which is employed in the vicinity of Lower Horseley Fields and the possibility of their getting ready access to a pleasant residential district, away from their factory surroundings.

Drainage, Water and Gas Supplies

The Heath Town sewers are already laid along part of Cannock Road and Thorneycroft Lane, and the Urban District Council will extend these along existing public thoroughfares as development proceeds. Water supply from the Wolverhampton Corporation Waterworks and gas from the mains of the Wolverhampton Gas Company are available on the estate, at the same rates as within the borough.

The advantage of these public services being provided by the community will be seen from the fact that at the Letchworth Garden City about £70,000 has already been spent in laying down a new scheme of water supply, gas supply and drainage, and in constructing new roads, etc. This heavy expenditure has been incurred although the population now sharing its benefits amounts to less than 3,000.

At Fallings Park nearly 2,000 people can be provided for by the mere extension of existing public facilities, and without any expenditure on roads. This will enable the landowner to dispose of his land at less than the rates charged at Letchworth, notwithstanding that the Letchworth property was originally purchased at £40 per acre and is 34 miles from a large centre of population.

Freedom From Smoke

The fact that the estate is well wooded and that the trees are healthy and vigorous in growth shows that the site does not suffer from the smoke of Wolverhampton. The estate lies to the northeast of the town and just escapes the smoke of the Stafford Road Works when the wind is blowing due west, which is the prevailing direction. It is almost continuously free from the smoke of the large works which are concentrated along the railway to the southeast of the town.


The estate lies on beds of red sandstone and conglomerate which stretch about a mile and a half wide along the edge of the coal measures which begin at Wednesfield. The surface soil is a blackish loam, free from clay, and is admirably suited for gardening purposes as well as of an excellent character for building development.

Probable Population and System of Development

If Sir Richard Paget had been content to allow the building development of East Wolverhampton to grow up in the ordinary way, it might, have been possible to accommodate a population of 60,000 people upon the 400 acres. Under the system of development contemplated, probably not more than 20,000 will be provided for, this being at an average rate of about 10 houses per acre.

It is not proposed, however, that every acre should be built upon or that ten houses should be the maximum number allowed. At Letchworth the restriction of the number of houses per acre has led to somewhat straggling development, and has not produced a satisfactory architectural result. It is better to provide frequent open spaces among the houses and to have the houses themselves fairly compact, rather than attempt to give too much garden space to each house.

 In Germany it has also been proved, as a result of experiments of Town Councils, in developing suburban areas that it is bad policy to provide roads for small house property except in the case of through thoroughfares. The best policy is to make the main thoroughfares of ample width, so that double tram lines can be bid along them and trees planted either in a single line in the centre or in the form of an avenue, and to make the intersecting streets only sufficiently wide to provide for two carriages passing each other.

The extra money spent in beautifying, and widening these main thoroughfares can to a large extent be saved by limiting the width of the side streets and roads, which have only to serve the domestic needs of the house property fronting upon them. Wide side streets cause dust, owing to the extensive superficial area of macadam, involve a great deal of unnecessary expense and increase the monotony which one sees in suburbs. It is not suggested that the fact of having comparatively narrow side streets means the limitation of air space. Larger gardens and more open spaces can be provided, without any cost except the cost of the land in the first place, to compensate for the smaller superficial area of road.

It may be difficult under the Heath Town byelaws to carry out ideas of this kind, but possibly the Urban District Council may be willing when it is assured of the advantages of this system of development to cooperate in carrying it out. So impressed were the promoters of the Hampstead Suburb Trust with the need of power to develop in the above way that they obtained a special Act of Parliament to allow them to contract out of the urban district byelaws. The above is one of the directions in which the community may financially benefit from the Garden Suburb method of development.

Another direction, and one of considerable importance, is that open spaces can be provided in advance in positions which do not involve the construction of expensive roads and main drains along their frontage.

The fine drive round the West Park is no doubt an excellent investment to Wolverhampton in the circumstances, but had the town been built according to a predetermined plan the ratepayers might have saved themselves a considerable part of the expense.

There will be no excuse in Fallings Park if the building frontages of expensive thoroughfares are not utilized to their fullest advantage. This may seem to be chiefly the concern of the landowner, but it is really the public which gets the benefit, directly or indirectly, in the long run.

A view of upper Park Lane, adjoining the proposed central square.

Where is the Population to Come From?

It must not be supposed that the object of the scheme is to attract people away from Wolverhampton. To a certain extent it is desirable to encourage the migration of workers earning good wages from crowded districts to more healthy surroundings and possibly this sort of migration may take place to limited degree. But the chief source from which the population of the new suburb will be drawn will be from the natural increase of Wolverhampton and district.

It is hoped that the scheme will advertise the district and make it more attractive to residents. Large industrial developments are also in contemplation near the estate, and the time is opportune for every effort to be made to attract other new industries. Although the land will be sold at a reasonable rate it will not be put on the market at a price which will depreciate the value of other people's property in the town, while owing to the restrictions which must necessarily be attached to the sale of the land there are many who will prefer to build elsewhere. There need be no fear that the scheme will interfere with surrounding values or with the natural trend of the population to settle in other parts of the town. What its promoters hope it will accomplish is to attract more manufacturers and more people to the district, as much by the example it will provide for other landowners in the neighbourhood, as by its direct influence in bringing Wolverhampton to public notice.

Land Tenure – How the land will be sold

Sites will be sold under certain restrictive covenants, which, while giving full security to the individual, will prevent haphazard speculation to the public detriment in the future; and arrangements are being made to give the community, ultimately, sufficient control over the area to be developed, including all open spaces, to enable it to prevent overcrowding, and to secure permanence to the principles underlying the scheme.

These covenants will include the restriction of the number of houses per acre, probably to 16, the prevention of undue speculation or the conversion of house property into shop property, the public control of the liquor traffic, open spaces, and the provision of a definite amount of space to a given number of houses. It will probably be necessary at a future date for the landowner to transfer his power to enforce these covenants to a Trust, representing the community as a whole.

In some respects it would have been better in the interests of the community had the promoters of the scheme been able to let the land on lease, as it is much easier to insist upon restrictive covenants under leasehold tenure than under freehold. On the whole however, it is considered that the advantages of freehold are greater and it is felt that it would be almost impossible to carry out the scheme under leasehold tenure in view of the local prejudices against it. It is therefore, proposed to offer the land freehold, either for a capital sum paid down or at an annual chief rent, similar to what is prevalent in the Northern Counties.

The price of the land will probably range from 1s. to 2s.6d. per yard, the higher price being for special positions on the main thoroughfares. It will be possible to obtain sites for houses at prices ranging from £15 upwards, or for an annual ground rent of 15s. upwards. The sites will be sold for all classes of property, but an endeavour will be made to provide particularly for the artisans and labourers requiring houses at rents of 4s. to 6s. weekly.

Model Housing Exhibition

One of the objects in view is to encourage workmen to become owners of their own dwellings, either individually or cooperatively through a society. With a view to securing examples of the best kind of houses to be erected, it is proposed to hold, on the estate, in the coming summer an exhibition of model houses suitable for urban districts. Prizes will be awarded for the cheapest and best houses of four and five rooms, and there will also be a class for the best houses of any size at a cost not exceeding £450.

To encourage exhibitors to layout their gardens and erect suitable fences, prizes will also be offered for the best laid out gardens and for the neatest fences. It is hoped that the proposed exhibition will attract the attention of builders and architects in the Midlands to the question of urban house building, by offering prizes which will attract the best ideas in regard to design, construction and material. The peculiar needs of the district have to be considered, and an exhibition in any other part of the country would not be likely to demonstrate what is required in the Midland Counties. It is hoped that the local authorities and all who are interested in the housing question will cooperate making the exhibition a success.

It is hoped to arrange for the prizes in each class to amount to a value of not less than £100 - £50 and a gold medal being already offered as the first prize in each class.

Prizes will also be offered for patent materials, the best method of utilizing steel in house construction, designs, models, etc. The exhibition is receiving influential local support, as will be seen from the following list of Patrons and Members of the General Committee :


Lord Armstrong.
The Lord Mayor of Birmingham.
Sir William Cook. J.P.
The Rt. Hon. Sir Henry Fowler, G.C.S.I.,M.P.,D.L.
The Rt. Hon. Herbert Gladstone, M.P.
Sir George Taubman Goldie, Bart.
Lewis Harcourt, Esq. M.P.
Sir Alfred Hickman, Bart. Wolverhampton.
Sir. Oliver Lodge, F.R.S.
The Earl of Lytton.
Alderman Charles Mander, J.P.
Alderman John Marston, .J.P.
Arthur Paget, Esq.
Lady Muriel Paget.
The Rt. Hon. Sir Richard Paget, Bart.
Thomas Parker, Esq., F.R.S.E.,M.I.C.E.,M.I.M.E.
Lord Plymouth.
T. F. Richards, Esq., M.P.
J. St. Loe Strachey, Esq., Editor of the Spectator.
J. W. Sankey. Esq.
H. Staveley Hill, Esq., M.P.
Christopher Turner, Esq.

General Committee:

The Mayor of Wolverhampton. (Baldwin Bantock. J.P.) Chairman.
Alderman R. E. W. Berrington, J.P., Deputy-Mayor, Wolverhampton.
Detmar Blow, Esq., F.R.I.B.A.
Horatio Brevitt, Esq.. Town Clerk, Wolverhampton.
George Brown, Esq., J.P.
Councillor J. F. Cullwick, Wolverhampton.
Alderman S. Craddock, J.P., Wolverhampton.
The Mayor of Dudley, (Alderman Cook.)
Thomas Graham, Esq., J.P.
George Green. Esq., Borough Surveyor, Wolverhampton.
Alderman John T. Homer, J.P., Staffordshire C.C.
Alderman Levi Johnson, J.P., Wolverhampton.
Councillor Beresford Jones     "
Alderman Price Lewis, J.P.,    "
Councillor Lovesey, J. P., Birmingham.
Geoffrey Le M. Mander, Esq., J.P.
Charles Marston, Esq., J.P.
C. H. Parker. Esq.
John Nettlefold, Esq., .J.P., Chairman Housing Committee, B'ham T.C.
Arthur Paget, Esq.
George Sankey, Esq.
H. Staveley Hill, Esq., M.P.
Alderman G. R. Thorne, Chairman Health Committee, Wolverhampton.
Councillor James Roberts, Wednesfield U.D.C.
Councillor W. Rowlands, J.P. Chairman Heath Town U.D.C.
Councillor J. Whittaker, J.P. Wolverhampton Trades Council.

Co-Partnership Housing Society

In order to encourage workmen to take an interest in improving their surroundings and to erect their own dwellings, it is proposed to form a Co-Partnership Tenants Society in connection with the scheme. Wolverhampton possesses two or three flourishing building societies, and those who desire to purchase their own dwellings, and who have been able to save a considerable proportion of the cost of erection, will usually find no difficulty in carrying through the transaction without any new organisation.

It is proposed, however, to offer a further alternative for workmen who have not a sufficiently large amount of savings to utilize the ordinary building society, or who by reason of the mobility of labour, find it difficult to purchase freehold houses under the ordinary system. This alternative method is described as "Co-Partnership Housing," and the object is to promote the erection, co-partnership ownership and administration of houses for workmen by methods which while avoiding the danger that frequently accompanies the individual ownership of houses and speculative building, harmonises the interests of tenants and investors by an equitable use of the profits arising from the increase of values and the careful use of the property.

The methods are briefly as follows:

To erect substantial houses provided with good sanitary and other arrangements for the convenience of tenants. To let the Society's houses at ordinary rents; to pay a moderate rate of interest on capital (from 4 to 5 per cent.), and to divide surplus profits (after providing for expenses, repairs, etc.) among tenant members in proportion to the rents paid by them.

Each tenant member's share of the profits is credited to him in Shares. If the tenant leaves the neighbourhood, he can transfer his shares at par or may continue to hold them and receive the interest regularly. The advantages to workmen who do not care to embark upon the expense connected with individual ownership or who run the constant risk of having a change of the location of employment, will at once be evident.

It is proposed to form a society on the above lines with a capital of £20,000, to immediately start the erection of cottage property at Fallings Park. There appears to be ample reason to expect that such a society would be heartily supported, and several working men have already given their names as members. Capital may be invested in the society, either in £1 ordinary shares, bearing 5 per cent. dividend, payable half-yearly, or as loan stock on which the interest of 4 per cent. is guaranteed. Investments in the loan stock will be invited from the public, and those who desire a good investment and at the same time to assist in solving the housing problem, will no doubt find in the society a satisfactory outlet for surplus funds.

These are the chief features of a great scheme, which, if successful, will be of considerable benefit to Wolverhampton, and bring it into the forefront of municipalities which are showing how to effectively solve the housing problem. The public men of the town have received the scheme with favour, and there is reason to believe that every assistance will be given by the authorities in trying to realize the ideals of the promoters.

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