Letchworth was the world’s first Garden City, founded by Ebenezer Howard in 1903 based on the ideas he set out in his 1898 book, ‘To-Morrow: A Peaceful Path To Real Reform’.
Just five years after he published his vision for Garden Cities, the first foundations were being laid at Letchworth Garden City, in Hertfordshire, in October 1903. Howard had set up the Garden City Association (now the Town & Country Planning Association, or TCPA) in 1899 to gain support for the idea; the Garden City Pioneer Company Ltd was founded in 1902 with the purpose of finding a suitable site to actually build a Garden City to see if the revolutionary idea would work; and in 1903 First Garden City Ltd was formed to own and operate the town. Today, the town is still owned and operated according to Howard’s initial intentions, by a direct successor to FGC Ltd, Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation.
A masterplan was drawn up in 1904 by two Arts & Crafts architects from Buxton, in Derbyshire, Barry Parker and Raymond Unwin, and they became Chief Consulting Architects to First Garden City Ltd, with the buildign regulations they drew up helping to create a distinctive early look in the town, and their housing layouts inspiring similar developments throughout the world.
- 1898: Ebenezer Howard publishes ‘To-Morrow: A Peaceful Path To Real Reform’, which sets out his vision for Graden Cities.
- 1899: Garden City Association is formed to help gain support for the idea.
- 1902: the book is re-printed as ‘Garden Cities of Tomorrow’
- 1902: Garden City Pioneer Company Ltd is set up to raise funds and find a suitable site
- 1903: Letchworth Garden City is founded
First Garden City Ltd is founded
- 1962: The town is saved from property specualtors and First Garden City Ltd becomes Letchworth Garden City Corporation
- 1995: Letchworth Garden City Corporation becomes Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation
Original master planner and any other critical master planning, design and architects:
Devised by Ebenezer Howard
Master Plan drawn up by Barry Parker and Raymond Unwin
Other notabel architects include:
- CM Crickmer
- Bennett & Bidwell
- Cecil Hignett
- Thomas Geoffry Lucas
- MH Baillie-Scott
- ‘Letchworth Look’ housing inspired by Arts & Crafts movement, consisting of:
- Roughcast render cladding over bricks
- Red roof tiles
- Green drainpipes, water butts, doors, etc
- Gables and dormer windows
- Street layout is in an axial layout with roads radiating out from a central square, based on Sir Christopher Wren’s (never-built) plan for London, following the Great Fire of 1666.
- Tree-lined streets, each with a different variety of tree
- Zoning of different types of building - industiral, commercial, middle-class and worker’s housing.
- Planned green spaces throughout
- Surrounded by a rural belt
7.7 sq mi / 20 sq km / 5,500 acres
- Approx 15,000 jobs
Housing/other built form densities
Local Authority is North Herts District Council (also Hitchin, Baldock & Royston)
Estate owned by Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation. Find out more here.
Other notable features that reflect Garden City Principles
- Well connected and biodiversity rich public parks, and a mix of public and private networks of well managed, high-quality gardens, tree-lined streets and open spaces;
- Distinct separation of the residential, industrial and civic areas and in the use of parks to screen residential neighbourhoods from roads and other undesirable things.
- strong local cultural, recreational and shopping facilities in walkable neighbourhoods
- Beautifully and imaginatively designed homes with gardens, combining the very best of town and country living to create healthy homes in vibrant communities
Find out more
Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation
Letchworth Garden City