Building Name

Cottages for the Co-operative Society, Bury

GMCA, England
Bury District Co-operative Society
New Build

Sir, - We are always interested in designs you publish which have for their object the improvement of dwellings for the labouring classes, and, considering such designs open to criticism, would make a few remarks on those illustrated on August 14, for the model dwellings at Fulham. Surely, Sir, if these dwellings are considered model - built under the auspices of a bishop, and the superintendence of so noted an architect as Mr. Seddon - the condition of the dwellings upon which these are considered an improvement must be wretched indeed. We have calculated the area of one of the middle houses, which we find contains about 350 super feet of flooring, which is apportioned into two bedrooms containing 82 and 60 super feet respectively, with a scullery 4ft. wide, a water‑closet 4ft. by 2 feet 3in. and a small living room. This is very bad, and the harm is increased by the utter disregard of all sanitary precautions in arranging the water‑closet and scullery, which latter is throughout totally without light, and the formerCwhich in houses of this description are rarely of the very best description or well attended toCare certain to prove a nuisance, and in hot seasons like the one through which we have just passed, will, we are afraid, become mere hotbeds of disease and death. Looking down your description we find that the dwellings upon the basement floor are still worse -one bedroom and one living room, with two water‑closets for six dwellings. Surely this is not model. Still more surprising is it when we come to consider the question of cost. One living room, one bedroom, miniature scullery, and water‑closet, altogether containing 350ft. of flooring, and the cost £155 per dwelling! This is enormous.

We take the liberty of enclosing specimens of three classes of houses we are building in Bury for the Bury Co‑operative Society, who, to their credit, are doing much to remedy the want of good cottage accommodation there, and which houses are intended to be purchased by individual members by a small increase of the rent.

The cottages No. 1 are part of a block of ten containing two large houses at each end, as shown with six smaller ones between to suit different classes of purchasers. The larger houses contain 930 super feet of flooring, the smaller ones 725 super feet; the cost of the ten, including outbuildings, yard, walls, and architect's commission, but exclusive of land, is £1,420, or an average of £142 per house.

The cottages No. 2 are part of a block of sixteen containing each 750ft. of flooring These houses have three bedrooms each, with garden in front and ornamental iron railing and pierpoint wall the cost of the sixteen is ,2,.3S0, or about,149 per house. These figures speak for themselves. Our structures - for simplicity  cottage No. 1, with an average of 800 super feet each, costs £142. The Fulham dwellings, containing 350ft,cost £155.

We are aware that it will be said that the expense of land in London precludes the idea of building separate cottages ; this may be, but then the cost oi dwellings in blocks should be proportionately reduced, as there is the saving of stairs, yard, walls, and outbuildings to each house as well as less roof. There surely must be some wrong principle at work here. If the object of buildings of the Fulham class is merely to provide a handsome block of buildings as an ornamental adjunct, to a palace, then we have not a word to say against them, but if the object is to serve as models for wholesome aud airy dwellings for a large and deserving class then let us by all means study a reasonable economy; not necessarily deforming our streets with hideous workhouse like structuresCfor simplicity and taste are quite consonantC but especially aiming at providing sufficient breathing spice in the bedrooms, which, in the Fulham dwellings, is sadly neglected. Were this principle universally carried out we should see fewer of our artisans with the wan, sickly faces which are a sure index of breathing foul air. We would, in conclusion, add a word to the working men themselves, and call upon them to be up and stirring ; not relying upon misguided charity, not despondently wearing out their own and their children's lives and health in vile slums, where pure air is an unattainable luxury, but taking heart, by the example of their Lancashire brethren, to cheerfully and patiently work out their own redemption from these giant evils. Then, and not until then, will the English workman be lodged as a Christian, and not, as is the case in most of our large towns, in dens where we should scruple to house our dogs or horses. Until that happy day arrives we must be content to see the poor carrying to the grave the results of the heritage they have received of foul air and defective sanitary arrangements from which so many of them suffer.-  We are, &c Maxwell and Tuke, Architects. 2, Silver‑street, Bury, Lancashire. [Building News 18 September 1868 page 634]

Reference : Building News 18 September 1868 page 634 and illustration