Sunday, 3 April 2016

One hundred years of one house in Well Hall part 13 ........... breakfast in Manchester with the Garden Town for Munition Workers

Well Hall and Manchester, 1916
This is the continuing story  of one house in Well Hall Road and of the people who lived there including our family.*

Now I rather like the fact that our house would have been the subject of conversation over the breakfast tables of Manchester back on January 7 1916, because on that day the Manchester Guardian carried a story on “The Garden Town for Munition Workers.”**

And the paper was full of praise for a development which despite “the exigencies of the war” was a “notable achievement, both as regards speed of creation and artistic merit.”

And reading the account today you can see why their correspondent was impressed. "The site is an extensive one between Blackheath and Eltham, and runs on both sides of the main road.

The estate in 1950
It is an open one, with distant views of tree-crowned hills and undulating landscape, and the houses have been cleverly arranged to encourage the traveller passing along the highway to a belief that they have chanced upon an old-world Kentish village of the Chiddingstone type.

There is no formality in the grouping of the terraces; neither does the scheme lose simplicity of character......... Every house is well planned and solidly built.”

That said the correspondent questioned the lack of facilities, “it is curious that one or two village shops were not included into the scheme, and one cannot quite imagine how the villagers will get on without some cherry place of assembly.

More from the Manchester Guardian, 1916
A well known philanthropist who visited the village a few days later after the first hundred families had moved into their new quarters remarked, ‘Where is the church?’ An architect replied, ‘There is a convenient site on the hill.’ The philanthropist rose to the occasion and promised the church.’”

Of course give the war and the need to build the houses it is possible to see how shops and a church were not seen as an immediate priority but I would like to know the identity of our philanthropist and what happened to the church.

All of which will be for another time.

Location;Well Hall, Eltham, London

Picture;  Well Hall Road in 1950, from Well Hall Estate, Eltham:  An Example of Good Housing Built in 1915, S.L.G. Beaufoy  and extracts from the Manchester Guardian, courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council,

*One hundred years of one house on Well Hall Road,

**“The Garden Town for Munition Workers,"  Manchester Guardian, January 7 1916

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