The Artizans, Labourers and General Dwellings Company was established in 1867, by a small group of clerks and working men, under the guidance of the noted philanthropist Lord Shaftesbury. As a result of Industrial Revolution more and more workers were moving to London, which was increasingly becoming overcrowded and polluted with poor quality back to back housing. The Artizans Company aimed to address the housing shortage and targeted workers (skilled and unskilled) and artisans (the higher ranks of the working classes).
Within the centre of London, other contemporary philanthropic organisations such as Peabody Estates concentrated on multi-storey block dwellings. The Artizans Company, on the other
hand, planned low rise picturesque housing estates with integrally planned amenities, around existing railway lines. The first of the Artizans Company’s four London estates was begun in Battersea in 1872, and named Shaftesbury Park after the Company’s President. The second estate, Queen’s Park, was built in Paddington.
In 1881 the Artizans Company hired Rowland Plumbe as their consulting architect, in consultation with Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). The same year the Company purchased 100 acres of land in Wood Green which was well served by rail transport links. By November 1881 Rowland Plumbe had already submitted his plans to the Board of Directors of the Company.
The area was intended to provide 2000 to 2600 self-contained cottage style homes for the industrial classes at a density of 27 houses per acre, to be owned exclusively by the Artizans Company and rented out at a low price. In 1883, the estate was named Noel Park after the chairman of the company board, Mr Ernest Noel MP. Later, Farrant Avenue, Morley Avenue, Russell Avenue and other roads took the names of prominent members of the company.
With its long, tree-lined avenues, a school, a church, shops, a theatre (on the site on Lymington Avenue now occupied by Wood Green Shopping City), a community hall and a variety of high quality housing, Noel Park set a standard for later suburban Council estates. Indeed, the idea was to create a ‘model town’ that contained everything necessary to sustain and entertain the residents.
NOEL PARK ESTATE
Noel Park Estate is a planned estate of approximately 2000 terraced properties in Wood Green, North London. It was planned and developed by the Artizans, Labourers and General Dwellings Company circa 1881-1913. The houses were designed to house the families of workers and artisans (skilled labourers) in fashionable cottage style dwellings. The area retains its homogenous appearance and much of its attraction, and is easily distinguished from the surrounding Wood Green area.
The Earl of Shaftesbury attended the opening of the estate in August 1883, and laid a stone on the corner of one of the Avenues. By this time two or three hundred houses were already completed.
The estate is laid out in a grid pattern, with long straight streets creating formal, well-ordered and uniform streetscapes with good legibility. The Avenues (Farrant Avenue, Moselle Avenue, Morley Avenue, Hewitt Avenue, Lymington Avenue, Russell Avenue) run south-west to north-east, and have long sections of unbroken terrace between junctions. Vincent Road, Salisbury Road and Darwin Road run south-east to north-west with shorter street sections, and connect with Lordship Lane.
Vincent Road and Salisbury Road are wider than the more modest residential streets on the estate, with shorter terraces between junctions.
Moselle Avenue, Morley Avenue, Farrant Avenue, Darwin Road and Pelham Road have long unbroken terraces between junctions and are relatively narrow with a strong sense of enclosure.
Gladstone Avenue is the central street and ‘backbone’ of the estate which runs parallel with the other Avenues for most of its length but veers North at St Mark’s church to join the High Road.
Within three years the estate had 7000 inhabitants.
Nevertheless, progress was slow. Although the area was thought to be easily accessible by rail for the many potential residents who would need to commute to central London, in practice the cost of rail fares meant this wasn’t feasible for many. For a time construction outstripped lettings, and work had to stop. Eventually campaigning and negotiations
resulted in the Great Northern Railway granting some half price fares to Noel Park residents in 1886, after which demand gradually increased and works on the estate resumed. The construction of Noel Park was largely completed by 1907, although Noel Park Recreation Ground did not open till 1925, and some work on the estate continued until 1927.
In medieval times, much of Wood Green was owned by the Lord of the Manor. However, there were some freehold estates, and some lands were owned by the Church. One of these privately owned estates was Ducketts, which extended along the banks of the Moselle River and along what is now Westbury Avenue. It was mentioned in 1256 when James de Stevinton and his wife Isabella granted 160 acres of arable land to a John Renger, who was a clerk to Henry III.
Wood Green remained a small settlement until the 1850s with houses widely scattered around Ducketts Common and Wood Green Common, and a few to the east along Lordship Lane. From the
1840s onwards, Wood Green began to grow rapidly with the opening of a new church in 1844 and the opening of the railway. The area, still partly wooded with undulating countryside, was attractive to speculators planning a new middle class suburb.
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