This month the Society goes out to Romford to visit Gidea Park, a very interesting but little-known purpose-built garden suburb closely linked to Hampstead Garden Suburb. A competition was held for houses on the site and by 1911, 159 houses and cottages had been built. The designs were for detached houses costing £500 and cottages costing £375. Eminent architects like Barry Parker and Raymond Unwin, Baillie Scott, Curtis Green, Clough Williams-Ellis and Ashbee took part. Another competitive exhibition, on a smaller scale, was held in 1934. Berthold Lubetkin’s and Tecton won first prize for a house at 64 Heath Drive. Wilfred Owen, Edward Thomas and Noel Coward all had connections with the Park. Noel Edmonds, the TV personality, was brought up there.
The idea of competitions for housing is an interesting one; I and Ben Derbyshire – President of the RIBA and our Banister Fletcher lecturer this year have been trying to set one up for London but so far the funding has not been forthcoming; there is greater interest in the idea in the other metro cities. We need to be able to shoe what the best of new development can be like – and certainly Gidea Park provides a good example of how that can be done while creating a permanent place for people to live.