The Spirit of the Place

  • Robert Beevers


With its tiny population dispersed over a considerable area, the garden city in its early years must indeed have looked not unlike a community of Middle Western homesteaders such as Howard had encountered in Nebraska. By the end of 1905 the resident population was less than two thousand and, although it expanded steadily year by year, at the outbreak of war it was still under nine thousand. The likeness Howard had in mind, however, was not primarily environmental but social, and more particularly one of attitude of mind. The early residents, said Purdom, who was one of the first, ‘were, for the most part, the enthusiasts who had been looking forward for years to the founding of the town. They came to it in a spirit of adventure, they discovered it as though it were a new land. That they were not lacking in enterprise is evident from the risk they took in becoming pioneers. They did truly look upon the land with an eye of faith, and it was no wonder that, coming to build their homes under such novel conditions, they should expect to see arise not merely a new city but a new civilisation. They hoped to revise all, or nearly all, social institutions; they discussed, as middle-class people will discuss, the reform of religion, art, and social polity, and the application of what they call the best modern knowledge to education and all the affairs of life. They left nothing alone.’1


Housing Association Garden City Rail Transport Common Ownership Private Landlord 
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Notes and References

  1. 1.
    C. B. Purdom, The Garden City (London, 1913 ) p. 51.Google Scholar
  2. 6.
    A. W. Brunt, The Pageant of Letchworth (Letchworth, 1942 ) pp. 52 - 4.Google Scholar
  3. 16.
    C. B. Purdom, The Building of Satellite Towns, 2nd edn (London, 1949 ) p. 78.Google Scholar
  4. 35.
    L. Falk, ’Trials of an Industrialist’, Town and Country Planning, vol. xxi, no 113, September 1953, p. 475.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Robert Beevers 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert Beevers

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