Walks Through History - Birmingham: Bourneville: the creation of a garden suburb
Unwin had suggested that there should be six structures at this heart of the whole design - a church, a chapel, a public hall, a library with picture gallery and museum, a band-stand, and a Home for young men. There were to be shops and tennis courts around the centre. We can only speculate how much more life there would be in the heart of the Suburb had the shops, at least, materialised.
Nevertheless, development went on fast. Those first two cottages were built between 5 June and 9 October He was Basil Bouchier and my Mother would often recall the force and wit of his sermons, and how people would fill the church, which is not a small one, and how, when it became too crammed, an overflow congregation would stand outside to hear the sermon relayed by loudspeaker. She had brought about the creation of a place very much of its time and yet adaptable to the requirements of later generations, a place that is architecturally beautiful, not on a grand scale but of human and truly welcoming proportions, a place of broad streets and flowering trees and green gardens not shut in by walls, and with many, many local amenities.
Incidentally, Dame Henrietta realised that a garden suburb was not the same as a garden city , and adapted her plans accordingly. So - was Dame Henrietta - for such she had become by the time she wrote the little book - was she satisfied? The answer has to be a qualified Yes, and an emphatic No.
In the very preface to her Story, in the first paragraph, she wrote of what had caused her to write it: Dame Henrietta wrote her Story in What of the subsequent years, almost three quarter- centuries of them? Well, the world changed, and the Suburb had to change with it though, thanks to the watchfulness of the Trust, it could have changed a great deal more and very much for the worse.
Building for building, it looks pretty much as it did in the early photographs, in spite of the growth of trees and the arrival and proliferation of cars, especially huge 4x4 monsters, totally unsuited to the width, the generous width, of the Suburb roads. The main change lies in the increase of wealth and in the extraordinary inflation of house prices all over London. Henrietta would be perturbed by that, and she would grieve, grieve deeply, that the Institute has left the Suburb, and she would be working to help it find a permanent home. The bombing of the last war wrecked the Clubhouse; Henrietta would, I think, have been determined to see it rebuilt to the original design.
House prices have risen, along with inflation, and a new type of resident has come to the area. Yet vigilance, self-restraint and the designation of the Suburb as a Conservation Area have protected its fabric from wanton change. People seem to be less sociable, less clubbable, to own more high-tech gadgets, television, hi-fi and so on.
Tennis courts are abandoned, allotments overgrown, and the contract gardeners are called in. Neighbours know and greet each other and, when help is needed, it is rare for it not to be forthcoming. Toggle navigation. Henrietta Barnett in profile. Chippenham Through Time. Mike Stone. Walworth History Tour. Darren Lock. Colchester Through Time. Patrick Denney. Wallasey Through Time. Ian Collard. Sirhowy Valley Through Time. Ewart B. Somerset Through Time. Steve Wallis.
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