The ‘garden village’ of New Earswick on the northern side of York influenced housing patterns in England and elsewhere for more than 60 years of the 20th century. It was built for Joseph Rowntree (1835-1925) the Quaker chocolate and cocoa manufacturer whose factory was nearby. Construction began in 1902 the year after the publication by Rowntree’s son, Seebohm Rowntree (1871-1954) of his social survey of York, Poverty: a study of town life. The village was always intended to be open to any working people, not just Rowntree employees. The settlement was placed under the control of the Joseph Rowntree Village Trust from 1904, and is now managed by the Joseph Rowntree foundation.
The village was planned by Sir Raymond Unwin (1863-1940) and Barry Parker (1867-1947), who subsequently designed Letchworth Garden City, and Hampstead Garden Suburb. Their objective was to create a balanced community where rents, although low, should represent a modest commercial return on the capital invested, so that others might copy the example set. Terraces were built at various angles, spaced so that the main rooms would catch the sun.
Many of the road names had rustic connotations – Chestnut Grove, Poplar Grove and Sycamore Avenue – and the social centre was named the Folk Hall. Many of the houses were built in cul-de-sacs which set an example that was copied by builders all over England in the 1920s and 30s. There are extensive open spaces and many trees. Bricks were made from local clay, and the site of the brickyard, which closed in the 1930s, is now a nature reserve.