Friday, 21 October 2011

Francis Troup's Cheap Cottage Makeover

Francis Troup designed the Peasant Arts houses and workshops on Kings Road, Haslemere.

I was amazed to come across some more photographs of Francis Troup's cheap cottage in Letchworth Garden City.  This was the cottage for which he won first prize for the 'best wooden cottage costing under £150 to build' in 1905.  Troup won £50.  I posted some RIBA pictures of the cottage in a previous post.  This cottage, 124 Wilbury Road, looks similar in appearance to the Dye House on Kings Road.

Francis Troup's cheap cottage, 1905
from the Garden City Museum
The Garden City Museum website has a wealth of fascinating pictures of the building of Letchworth Garden City.  It's an interesting coincidence that the St Edmundsbury Weaving Works relocated to Letchworth Garden City in 1908.

The impetus behind the cheap cottage exhibition is explained by the Garden City Museum: "By the late 19th century the cost of building houses for farm workers was so high and wages so low, that it was not economical to build houses for agricultural labourers. Part of the problem was the restrictive bye-laws that allowed only expensive materials such as brick and stone to be used. This was one of the factors leading to a mass exodus of farm workers from country to town and a subsequent lack of labour.

To try to change this, Mr J St Loe Strachey, editor of The Specator and owner of the Country Gentleman Land & Water Magazine, wrote an article starting a campaign for the £150 Cottage which would use cheaper building materials and could be let to a rural labourers for an affordable £8 a year.
In an article in October 1904 he proposed a competition where entrants could display examples of cottages, free from byelaws, and thus able to utilise innovative new building methods and materials."
Postcard of the Cheap Cottages Exhibition  by Frank Dean, 1905
Garden City Museum
The Exhibition was opened in July 1905 by the Duke of Devonshire, the exhibition had a huge impact at the time "The exhibition acted as a publicity magnet.  In 1905, Letchworth was a household name with nationwide press coverage appearing in hundreds of national and local newspapers and the exhibition attracting between 60,000 to 80,000 visitors to the fledgling Garden City.  A new temporary stop was created on the Great Northern Railway to accommodate the throng – Letchworth was literally put on the map."
Cheap Cottage Exhibition, Letchworth, 1905
Garden City Museum
What is really fascinating about the Troup cheap cottage, is that I have come across a current photograph of the house online, so I feel able to share it here.  Below is one of the pictures I have posted previously of the cottage.
Cheap Cottage, designed by Francis Troup, Letchworth, 1905
And here is the cottage today, there have obviously been a number of changes, but the cottage still remains recognisable from the 1905 pictures.  The changes made are fascinating, it looks almost like a new house, rather than one over 100 years old.  I wonder if they have any of Troup's trademarks still, like the very wide, robust front doors.  
Francis Troup's Letchworth cheap cottage, present day
Francis Troup's cheap cottage, 1905
from the Garden City Museum


  1. I wonder if Francis was related to the architect George Troup?

  2. Thanks for the link. They could be related, we'll have to do some digging around in the family tree.


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