Roe Green Village
Sir Frank Baines
- Original design
- Sir Frank Baines, 1918
The 2017 programme is now past. We will be launching the 2018 programme in July.
Roe Green Village is a Conservation Area as defined by Article 4 Regulation in the Town and Country Planning Act. This means that alterations to properties or gardens are strictly controlled, in order to maintain the quality of Village life and its unique architectural heritage.
In 1915 the Aircraft Manufacturing Company occupied over 9,000m2 (100,000 ft2) of factory employing 600 people (not including administrative staff) and was producing 20 machines per month.
By 1918 their premises comprised almost 70,000m2 (730,000 ft2) employing 4,400 people assembling 190 machines each month. This sudden and dramatic increase in employment necessary for increased aircraft output brought problems of living accommodation and public transport to what had hitherto been a relatively isolated country area.
The premises now occupied by ‘Kingswood Kitchens’ – at the Edgware Road end of Grove Park – are what remains of the Airco aeroplane factory. The Imperial War Museum has a picture, painted in 1918, showing the inside of one of the big factory sheds and the men and women workers assembling De Havilland biplane bombers. Some of these workers were, of course, the original residents of RGV.
This means that there are actually quite substantial remains of the original Airco factory, if you include the adjacent Beis Yacov Jewish School on Edgware Road, which was formerly the HQ offices of Airco. Since not very much survives on the opposite (Barnet) side of Edgware Rd, we have a significant part of the area’s surviving First World War aircraft manufacturing heritage in the borough.
In 1916, the Office of Works commissioned its principal architect, Sir Francis Baines, C.B.E., M.V.O., (1877 1933), to design an estate of cottages for the aircraft workers. This was done along “garden village” lines at Roe Green. The term “garden village” represented an important concept of estate design. British Town Planning was in its infancy and there were few controls on building form save the local bye-laws. In this regard, the work of Baines should be judged in the context of the Garden City movement inspired by Ebenezer Howard. Baines’ concept of estate design was refined with practice. Roe Green itself was based on his office’s design for Woolwich Garden Suburb (the Well Hall Estate) which was built for the Arsenal (the Ordnance factory not the football club) in 1915.
Construction of the estate, apparently by the contractors Holloway Bros., began in 1918 and 1919 had built some 150 houses. Their construction brought a spate of complaints as the industrial development of the Grove Park Estate had done in 1916-1917.
The buildings at Roe Green were deliberately designed in a combination of brick or rendered walls and slate roofs sweeping down to first floor level or a combination of similar materials with tiled roofs and vertical tile hanging.
There were five classes altogether. In classes 1 and 2, of which there were 110, the accommodation on the ground floor consisted of a living room, parlour, scullery and offices/coal cupboard. Three bedrooms and a combined bathroom and WC were provided on the first floor of class 1 cottages with one less bedroom on the first floor of cottage type No-2. Of class 3, there were 40 cottages built containing a large living room, scullery with bath under the kitchen table, coal cupboard and WC and on the first floor three bedrooms. Classes 4 and 5, of which about 100 were built, were two-bedroom flats with living room, scullery with bath under the kitchen table, WC and coal cupboard.