|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
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
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
|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
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
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
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
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
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
Drainage, Water and Gas
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
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
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
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
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
Where is the Population to
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
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
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 :
The Lord Mayor of Birmingham.
Sir William Cook. J.P.
The Rt. Hon. Sir Henry Fowler,
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.,
T. F. Richards, Esq., M.P.
J. St. Loe Strachey, Esq., Editor of the
J. W. Sankey. Esq.
H. Staveley Hill, Esq., M.P.
Christopher Turner, Esq.
The Mayor of
Wolverhampton. (Baldwin Bantock. J.P.)
Alderman R. E. W. Berrington, J.P.,
Detmar Blow, Esq., F.R.I.B.A.
Horatio Brevitt, Esq.. Town Clerk,
George Brown, Esq., J.P.
Councillor J. F. Cullwick,
Alderman S. Craddock, J.P.,
The Mayor of Dudley, (Alderman Cook.)
Thomas Graham, Esq., J.P.
George Green. Esq., Borough Surveyor,
Alderman John T. Homer, J.P.,
Alderman Levi Johnson, J.P.,
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
Councillor James Roberts, Wednesfield
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.
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
are briefly as follows:
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.
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