This is the Institute at Hampstead Garden Suburb. I decided to revisit the suburb in recognition of the 40th anniversary of the development of Milton Keynes this week. Hampstead is to me the archetypal English Garden Suburb of which Milton Keynes is a sort of americanised bastard. Of course the styling is the first difference. But as I walked around, on what turned out to be a sunny but bitingly cold day, I realised that the central square of Hampstead Garden suburb has no commercial activities. Instead it has three churches and three schools - if you include the Institute which was once the focus of adult education.
Even though this model of large houses and long tree lined avenues is difficult to reconcile with public transport provision and we would expect everyone to go by car, there were in fact quite a lot of people just walking around. In fact the institute now runs a series of walk and talk days, which sound very good. I had stumbled upon one of them. The course leader is a trained councillor and I could see that everyone was walking and talking and I'm sure the effects on the psyche and the health were great. They pointed me in the right direction of a cafe, which of course is at the edge of the scheme on a main road - just where shops ought to be. Its interesting how often we are encouraged to keep neighbourhood centres in the centre of things, but of course in small scale places they can not survive. In Hampstead the focus is spiritual and educational and I'm pleased to see that the walking tours are continuing the tradition. This is a much better focus that retail!
Obviously others agree with me. The going rates for purchase of a house start at £1million and goes up to £4Million! I've included a series of images which you can download. Though I'm not a fan of retro the detailing is very fine and all the houses seem to be in very good condition. My only regret is that there are very few smaller scale units, or flats.