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The Suburb and the 1911 Census

This spring, we are all aware of the 2021 census taking place. This information gathering exercise is conducted once every ten years, providing an unrivalled look at who lived where (and more) on a given date.

With the 1911 census available to search, we can use the records to reveal who was living in Hampstead Garden Suburb when it was only a few years old. When we think about the young Suburb, it is often fascinating to know about the kinds of people who actually lived there in its first years. A number of different professions can be linked to the Suburb a century ago. This article focuses on architects.

The drawing office for the early Suburb was established at the 17th century farmhouse, Wyldes, located on the edge of Hampstead Heath. Raymond Unwin moved in to Wyldes in the summer of 1906. Mervyn Miller writes that, “the handsome black boarded barn had been converted by Charlotte Wilson to living accommodation and Unwin housed his office in it. … The Hampstead accommodation offered Unwin a greater integration of living space and work space than had previously been possible.”

But from looking at the 1911 census, we see that Unwin was not alone in choosing to make the Suburb his home. A number of other architects, many of whom will have worked under Unwin at Wyldes, also chose to live on the Suburb from its earliest days. Some even designed homes for themselves here.

When searching the 1911 census for the profession of architect, a number of familiar Suburb names appear, including Wade, Bunney, Welch, and of course Unwin. We found at least fourteen architects living on the Suburb at the time of the 1911 census, conducted in April that year.

The distribution of addresses of these men around the likes of Hampstead Way, Willifield Way, and Temple Fortune Hill, points to the earlier section of the Suburb which had been built at that time, centring around what is known as “The Artisan’s Quarter” – a nickname which reflects the number of artists, craftspersons and other creatives who were drawn to the new Suburb.

Charles Paget Wade was living in a room at 9 Temple Fortune Hill in 1911. He was boarding in one room, with an assistant teacher in another, at the house of Mrs Emma Woods. Wade did a number of drawings and illustrations for Unwin, starting in 1907, including designs for the Great Wall, number 2 Rotherwick Road, and the Club House, along with a small number of houses. Wade lived at this Hampstead Garden Suburb address from around 1910, for a decade until he took over the Cotswolds estate of Snowshill.

A friend and colleague of Wade’s, who also joined the Unwin office in 1907, Thomas Alwyn Lloyd was living not too far away, at number 1 Temple Fortune House, with his step-brother at the time of the census.

Michael Bunney lived at number 13 Meadway, originally named Windhill, a house he designed for himself, with his partner Clifford Makins – just one of nearly a hundred Suburb houses the pair are credited with. (Makins was living at Harrow-on-the-Hill at the time of the 1911 census.)

Meanwhile, Herbert Arthur Welch was living at 1 Asmuns Hill, an original Parker and Unwin house. Welch (whose name is erroneously transcribed on the census as Welsh) contributed some 200 properties to the Suburb – 85 under his own name, and the rest in partnership with others. Welch would shortly move to 117 Willifield Way, where he appears to be living in 1915.

And Thomas Millwood Wilson was living at what is now 46 Hampstead Way in spring 1911 – a house he designed for himself, one of about fifteen Suburb homes he designed. Wilson was listed as living at this address at the time with his wife, three children, and one domestic servant.

One final familiar name: a certain John Soutar, then aged 30, was also at this time quartered nearby at Montpelier Rise, on the other side of Finchley Road. John Carrick Stuart Soutar, originally from Scotland, would go on a few years later to follow Raymond Unwin (and George Lister Sutcliffe) to become consultant architect to the Suburb, taking over the office at Wyldes.

For more on the 1911 census, please visit the HGS Heritage Virtual Museum to read Janice Blackstaffe’s snapshot of Hampstead Way at that time. As the article helpfully points out, the numbering of Hampstead Way changed radically in 1913, making the 1911 addresses rather tricky to match up without additional resources.  

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