100 years on, it’s time for a new Tudor Walters Report, says Mark Swenarton
One hundred years ago this week, the first scientific treatise on the design of small houses was published. Largely authored by Raymond Unwin – the principal architect of the pre-First World War schemes of Letchworth Garden City and Hampstead Garden Suburb – the treatise was the official report of a committee of enquiry set up by the British government to investigate “economy and dispatch” in the provision of working-class housing. With a text that extended to 80,000 words, and a title that itself ran over five lines, the report was universally known simply by the name of its chairman, (Sir John) Tudor Walters.*
The report was commissioned in July 1917 at a time when industrial unrest was threatening the war effort and the government was advised that the shortage of decent housing was a major grievance among workers. Accordingly announcements were made of future plans to tackle the housing shortage after the end of the war and the Tudor Walters Committee (or, as it soon became called, “the experts’ committee”) was set up to investigate how this should be done.
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