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Past exhibition - Ruislip Manor: the Garden Suburb Dream

From 14 September to 25 October 2017 a temporary exhibition took place to discover how Ruislip's ambitious town planning project was devised in the early 20th century.

The Victorian industrial revolution changed England's urban landscape. As labourers left the countryside to work in the factories, the cities became overcrowded and unhealthy places to live. Some believed that things could be different.

Ebenezer Howard's book Tomorrow: A Peaceful Path to Real Reform, issued in 1898, offered a probing vision. Howard described a utopian city in which people would live in harmony with nature. As Howard put it, "Town and Country must be married, and out of this joyous union will spring a new hope, a new life, a new civilization." This spurred the Garden City movement. 

The 1909 Housing and Town Planning Act was a catalyst for these ideas to be adapted to the suburbs.  The Ruislip-Northwood Urban District Council worked alongside local land-owners. The objective: a district-wide town planning scheme. The chief concerned were King's College Cambridge, owners of the Ruislip Manor estate. The model they had in mind was Hampstead Garden Suburb.

Key influencers were: Alderman William Thompson (1863-1914), a strong advocate for the 1909 Planning Act and chairman of the Ruislip Manor Company from 1910; Frank Elgood, CBE, FRIBA (1865-1948) chairman of the Ruislip Parish Council until 1904 and chairman of the R-N UDC Town Planning Committee between 1906-8 and 1912-15; supported by Edmund Abbott clerk for the R-N UDC; and Raymond Unwin (1863-1940), consulting architect for King's College.

At that time, the estimated population for the districts of Ruislip, Northwood and Eastcote was of 7,500 inhabitants within an area covering 6,585 acres. Ninety per cent of the area was to be affected by the scheme. Impetus for development came from increased transport links. A competition was held in 1910 inviting architects to submit their vision for the area's transformation from village to suburb. The winning entry was a design by Archibald and John Soutar selected amongst 62 submissions.

The finalised scheme made history as the second project to receive approval under the 1909 Act, and was one of only thirteen fully approved plans out of 172 applications.

Manor Farm garden development plan

The history of its proposal, some of its key players, and the ethos behind it were the subject of this exhibition.

On display were rarely - if ever - seen objects from the collections of London Borough of Hillingdon's Museums, Archives and Local Studies Service, and the Ruislip Northwood and Eastcote Local History Society.

exhibit 3   Exhibit 2

Preparing for the exhibition


Find out more about the local history and heritage.



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Article utilities:  Bookmark and Share Print Print this page Last updated: 18 Jan 2018 at 15:51