Complete Communities or Dormitory Towns? Case Studies in Interwar Housing at Welwyn Garden City, Becontree and St Helier
Housing has always been a paramount issue; in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century attempts were made to revolutionise the problem of poor quality houses and the accompanying poor quality of life. This was set against the backdrop of the industrial expansion of the urban metropolis; with possible solutions moving towards decentralisation of the most overpopulated areas. Arguably the most significant steps to remedy the housing issue were made in the interwar period with the development of the second Garden City at Welwyn and the London County Council out of county estates. This thesis focuses on the development of community at the three developments chosen as case studies: Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire and the Becontree Estate in Essex and the St. Helier Estate in Surrey. Key points of analysis were identified and investigated using a range of sources in order to come to a just conclusion. It was found that community values developed substantially over the early stages of growth, not without some examples of friction between existing and new residents. The development of public facilities such as churches, schools, public houses, community centres aided the progression of core community values through all three case studies. The development of these community hubs supported the progression of civic cohesion and pride, thus making the residents feel comfortable in their new surroundings and part of something bigger than themselves. These interwar developments paved the way for the post war New Towns and also international attempts at modernised towns and Garden Cities, with the latter making a twentieth century resurgence. Yet despite their profound legacy, it was found that dormitory town status was inevitable. Lack of employment for all drove residents to the cities, in the circumstances of all three case studies: London.