Move from slums to new homes surrounded by open space ‘transformational’ for many of estate’s first residents
A new group is being launched to protect and improve one of Edinburgh’s most historic parks.
Inch Park, once part of the grounds of the 17th century Inch House, was an integral part of the design of Edinburgh’s first “garden city” – The Inch estate – just over 70 years ago. And when the Friends of Inch Park holds its first annual general meeting on Wednesday, September 27, at 7pm, at Inch House, the guest speaker will be Bill Cook, former councillor and author of the history of the estate.
Bill, whose family moved to The Inch from Greenside, behind the Playhouse, shortly before he was born, said when it was built around 1950 the estate – Edinburgh’s first “garden city” – was recognised as “transformational” for many of the residents who had come from the oppressive conditions of the slums and found themselves in new homes amid open spaces. “It derived directly from the post-war consensus and the initiatives people took during the war – they were planning during the war to build new houses when it was all over. The country was fighting to defeat Nazism and they were saying ‘We need to build a better world’.”
Here’s a look at the fascinating story of The Inch in 13 pictures.
1. All laid out
This model of The Inch lays out the design drawn up for The Inch by architect David Stratton Davis. It would make The Inch Edinburgh's first "garden city". And in 1954 the Saltire Society declared The Inch was the best local authority housing in Scotland. Inch Park is in the forefront of the picture, but altogether one-third of the land was given over to parks and green space, all part of the "garden city" philosophy which saw open spaces as an essential part of the design, not just an add-on. And unlike many pre-war estates, The Inch was designed as a self-contained community with plenty shops, as well as a doctor's surgery, schools and community facilities. Photo: Bill Cook
2. How it all started
It was in May 1946 that Edinburgh Corporation launched an all-Britain competition for the design of a new housing estate and community at The Inch. A total of 68 designs were submitted and the winner was David Stratton Davis from Gloucester, who was just 29 years old. He was awarded a prize of £500. His design included mixing different house types in the same street, as here in Rutherford Drive, where flatted houses, to the left and centre of the picture, stand next to three-storey tenements, to the right. Photo: Bill Cook
3. Work began on site within months
Preparation works for the new development began in the autumn of 1946 and construction of the houses started in the summer of 1949, with the first homes completed during 1951. This is an illustration, perhaps by the architect himself, of the flats planned for Hazelwood Grove. Photo: Bill Cook
4. Green spaces everywhere
Open spaces were a key feature of the new estate - not just the park, but areas of green right next to the houses, as here in Marmion Crescent. It was a world away from the slums where many of the Inch residents had lived before. Photo: Bill Cook