Facts about Letchworth
The town’s name is taken from one of the three villages it surrounded – all of which featured in the Domesday Book. The land used was purchased by Quakers who had intended to farm the area and build a Quaker community. The town was laid out by Raymond Unwin as a demonstration of the principles established by Ebenezer Howard who sought to create an alternative to the industrial city by combining the best of town and country living.
In 1898, the social reformer Ebenezer Howard wrote a book entitled To-morrow: A Peaceful Path to Real Reform, in which he advocated the construction of a new kind of town, summed up in his three magnets diagram as combining the advantages of cities and the countryside while eliminating their disadvantages. The industry would be kept separate from residential areas—such zoning was a new idea at the time—and trees and open spaces would prevail everywhere.
According to the book the term “garden city” derived from the image of a city being situated within a belt of open countryside, and not, as is commonly cited, to a principle that every house in the city should have a garden. The concept outlined in the book is not simply one of urban planning, but also included a system of community management.