LETTER: Background of black and white landmarks

Chesterfield
Chesterfield

Geoff Marsden (last week’s Derbyshire Times - click here to read) suggests that the person who was responsible for the introduction of black and white buildings into Chesterfield was Parker Morris. 
Unfortunately this is incorrect as Parker Morris did not come to Chesterfield until 1923 by which time many of the buildings were already in place. 
A similar misconception is that there are so many of these buildings because the borough engineer at the time, Vincent Smith, admired Chester. If anyone would like to find out more about these buildings, I am giving a talk about them at the Winding Wheel on March 16, tickets are available from the visitor centre.

However Mr Marsden is quite correct in saying that Parker Morris was later responsible for the development of design standards for council housing. Less well known in this field is another local man. Raymond Unwin came to Chesterfield when he became a draughtsman at Staveley works before going into partnership with Chesterfield-born architect Barry Parker. They are best known locally for the design of St Andrew’s Church at Barrow Hill. Parker and Unwin were influential in the Garden City movement. The partnership was wound up in 1914 when Unwin became more concerned with the development of municipal housing. Unwin was appointed to the Tudor Walter’s Committee which, in 1918, recommended that local authorities should be obliged to provide working-class dwellings after the war. The report was accompanied by a housing manual, largely drafted by Unwin, with designs for the layouts of estates and house plans. Councils applying for a subsidy under the 1919 Housing and Town Planning Act, and Chesterfield was one of the first to do so, had to follow these recommendations. According to his biographer, Andrew Saint, Raymond Unwin had a greater beneficial effect on more people’s lives than any other British architect.

Janet Murphy

Walton Road, Chesterfield