Architects and Planner's of
Letchworth Garden City
Barry Parker ( 1867 - 1947 )
Raymond Unwin ( 1863 - 1941 )

Parker and Unwin were second cousins both born in the North of England.


Barry Parker was born in Chesterfield , Derbyshire.

He went to the South Kensington School of Art in London in 1886, and studied interior design with T.C.Simmonds of Derby from 1887 - 1889. He was later articled to the Manchester architect Faulkner Armitage from 1889 - 1893.

Raymond Unwin was born in Rotherham, Yorkshire but grew up in Oxford after his father sold up his business and moved there to study. His education was at Magdelen College School.

In 1884 he returned to the North to become an apprentice engineer for Stavely Iron and Coal Company near Chesterfield.

Unwin had become interested in social issues  at an early age and was inspired by the lectures and ideals of Ruskin and Morris. In 1885 he moved to Manchester and became secretary of the local Morris's Socialist League . He  wrote articles for their newspaper and spoke on street corners for their cause and the Labour church.

He also became a close friend of the socialist philosopher Edward Carpenter whose Utopian community ideas led to his developing a small commune at Millthorpe near Sheffield.

In 1887 he returned to Staveley Company as an engineer, working on development of mining townships and various other buildings.

In 1893 he married Barry Parker's sister Ethel.

They formed their partnership in 1896 at Buxton Derbyshire

They preferred the simple vernacular style and made it their aim to improve the standards of housing for the working classes.

They were members of the Northern Art Worker's Guild  and were close friends of Edgar Wood (1860 - 1935) the leading Arts and Crafts architect in the North of England, a founder member of the group.

In their various writings including their book The Art of Building a Home (1901) Parker and Unwin aimed to popularised the Arts and Crafts Movement, and as a result of their success thousands of homes were built on their pattern in the early part of the 20th century.

In 1902 they were asked to design a model village at New Earswick near York for Joseph and Seebohm Rowntree, and the following year they were given the opportunity to take part in the creation of Letchworth, when the First Garden City Company asked them to submit a plan..

In 1903 they were involved with the ""Cottages Near a Town Exhibit" for the Northern Art Workers Guild of Manchester.

In 1904 after their plan was adopted they opened a second office at Baldock.

In 1905, Henrietta Barnett asked them to plan the new Garden Suburb at Hampstead.

Unwin moved from Letchworth to Hampstead in 1906, and he lived here for the rest of his life at the farmstead "Wyldes".

Parker went on to build his own purpose built office in Letchworth, (now the Heritage Museum) with a drawing office area and a private office.

Once the projects at Letchworth and Hampstead were progressing the assistants in Parker and Unwin's practice were given commissions to help them set up their own independent practices. Many of these were for houses in Letchworth and some  can be seen on the Tour pages.

From the Buxton and Letchworth offices:

Courtney M. Crickmer , Cecil Hignett , S. Pointon Taylor , Robert Bennett and Wilson Bidwell.

From the Hampstead office:

Herbert Welch and  F. J. Lander , Michael Bunney , C.C. Nakins , T.M. Wilson , A.J. Penty and Charles Wade.
 

The partnership continued until 1914 with offices in Letchworth and Hampstead when Unwin was appointed to the position of Chief Inspector of Town Planning for the Local Government Board.

More about Unwin



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