31 March, 2012

Gidea Park - Romford Garden Suburb

The unique combination of rich and chavvy - this is what you will find in Romford. As the Havering Museum told me there are very few blocks of high rise flats in Havering, but that seems not to matter much - you can be just as chavvy in a posh house as you can in a council flat (or the other way round). But the Council impressed me by staging a centenary exhibition of the Romford Garden Suburb and Cottages exhibition in the library today when I called (even if it's a year late) and having a special walk leaflet prepared for a look at the exhibition today, including the Modern Homes exhibition of 1934. The cottages were designed to cost £375 and £500 so these were not cottages for the working classes (although some councils did spend £1400 on their first council houses and still produced smaller than average houses) but more for the 'garden suburb' type, although not as classy as Woodcote. I did the walk the wrong way round - sunwise - but no matter. First up was Raphael Park, just to show some municipal influences then on with the cotts. The first prize winner I saw was designed by Geoffrey Lucas, and it looked quite good. Even better were the cottages designed by Baillie Scott as below.

What a pity the weather wasn't kind but these are lovely cottages with olde worlde roofs and pargetting.
The next house of note was in the modern homes exhibition by Tecton. I haven't done Highpoint I and II but I will one day. This house is uncompromising in its lines and the requirement that it be fit for purpose. To paraphrase Osbert Lancaster the architect has very clearly made this house fit for the purpose! And the purpose he made it fit for was one of sunbathing, something which cannot often be done in the UK. Anyhow in the best traditions of the Architect's Journal I have included a heavily filtered black and white of this Tecton house - the winner of First Prize! And, of course, of great merit architecturally.

There are other Modern Homes Exhibition houses in the same street.

It is the law in England that every garden suburb must have a street (actually that is what they don't have - Roads, Walks, even Avenues - but never streets) called Meadway, and Romford followed this statute to the letter. Meadway contains some beautiful houses and streetscapes as these next two pictures show.

A pleasant afternoon in the company of Parker and Unwin, Baillie Scott and Tecton

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