Page images

and I do not think that I could manage them; but my district is not much infested with roughs; and we have planted trees in even some of the worst parts of London, and the trees are none the worse for it.

You will say, looking at my own plan, No. 2, that it is made to look prettier than No. 1 by the trees, &c.* Of course it is, and I so intended it; but I will venture to say that the contrast between the two plans is not nearly so great as the contrast would be between the two districts themselves.

No doubt nearly every large town has now a park (and there are few prettier than your own), but we have to go to it. It is, and must be, away from most of the houses, and I do insist upon the fact that the cheerfulness of the home (no matter on what scale and of what class), with its surroundings, is the great thing to be studied; and I see nothing to be said against bringing close to every street, by such arrangements as I have shewn, the cheerfulness of bright foliage and open air.

I now ask you to bear with me whilst I enter, in some detail, as to the public works and buildings for which provision should be made. I assume that, as a matter of course, the sewers, water, and gas, will be provided in the usual way, so I need not detain you as to these.

In the first place I would set aside a strip of land (E) outside the whole for the park, which I take for granted would ultimately be required, no matter what the rank of the adjoining houses may be. Its distance from the furthest point would be about that suggested by Mr. Besant, viz., half to three-quarters of a mile. The size which I suggest is about the same as that of the Hesketh Park at Southport, which is in one of the best parts of the town, and much smaller than the one here. The position of this open space would provide well, also, for the future extension of the town, and would afford the advantages obtained in the same way as, e.g., at Hastings, where the pretty St. Andrew's Gardens, starting from the old town, pass round at the back of the houses, and are continued to St. Leonards, making an admirable belt of free open air and foliage.

Neither in this case, nor in that of public buildings, do I propose the work to be undertaken at the first, but only so to arrange, at the first, that the sites shall be so reserved as to be available when required. As to these I need do no more than mention offices for the local authorities, and the library, readingroom, science and art schools, and other buildings required for the particular locality.

*The trees, &c., have not been reproduced in the lithograph.

In the arrangement of these public buildings it would be difficult to take a better example than that of Southport, whose Lord Street and Albert Road form one of the prettiest vistas that I know—(I trust that Birkdale will pardon me for classing it with its neighbour)—and I use the word "prettiest" advisedly, as I could not, of course, compare it with such grand thoroughfares, each unrivalled in its way, as the High Street of Oxford, or Princes Street at Edinburgh.

At Southport the chief public buildings are located behind a group of trees, and I know of few more pleasing views than that of the spires and turrets of Christ Church, the Presbyterian Church, and the municipal and other buildings, towering above the foliage, whilst between the trees the buildings themselves are picturesquely seen. I suggest that a similar arrangement be made here for such buildings, and others mentioned hereafter, in a central position, such as (L) and (K).

Outside the park I should place the infirmary and convalescent home, a position in which they would have free light and air. If any one suggests that such a position would be too public and lessen the enjoyment of the park, I would refer him to your own infirmary and children's hospital (the latter the gift, I believe, of your townsman, Dr. Chadwick, and his family), and ask him whether, as a simple matter of landscape effect, to say nothing of the value of such an outlook to the patients, he would wish this picturesque building, designed by one of your able townsmen, Mr. Knill Freeman, to be removed. Or again, think of the charming way, and without the slightest feeling of sadness, in which the promenade at Southport ends with such a building, whilst at two such different places as Manchester and Hastings, the infirmary forms one of their most prominent buildings. Next to your noble town hall and the old churches, the most important building is, I think, the market. I do not of course propose any such grand building as yours for my district. It might be open at the sides, but covered as at Preston and Blackpool, or be enclosed as here and at Southport, or St. John's at Blackpool. I know that many towns of importance (I may, I think, name Norwich and Cambridge amongst them) have still little more than open and uncovered market places, healthy looking and pretty, with fruit, and flowers, and vegetables, on a fine day; but we often have quite other days in our country, and the attempts at covering up and protecting the stalls then, turns the market place into a wretched collection of tumble-down huts-I had almost said as bad as Fleetwood. If the quarter be chiefly for artizans, public washhouses will be indispensable; and in any case, no matter what the class of inhabitants may be, I look upon public

baths also as a provision which can scarcely be valued too highly. For these baths and washhouses I have suggested no definite site, as this would depend so very much on the kind of inhabitants.

Nor have I marked out definitely sites for churches, chapels, or schools. All these are provided for in the district as it exists, and sites would undoubtedly be claimed for and provided, whatever the general plan might be.

I come now to some other details, as to which I may not possibly have your assent.

First, as to drinking fountains. That such small ones as are now commonly seen should be provided, you will doubtless quite approve. There are many excellent examples in most of the towns in these parts, each combining a drinking fountain with a public lamp, and being really an ornament to the streets. But I want something more than these, as much for the sake of health as for ornaments to the town.

You know well enough that all the water in use for your houses is stored in cisterns; and although in past times these cisterns were looked upon as being worthy to be seen, and so were ornamented in a way which is now the envy and admiration of workmen and artists alike, they are now rough ugly things, stored away out of sight in any convenient closet or loft which will hold them, and for all that their owners know of them may be considered as the property of the spiders.

You depend upon your plumber to clean them out once a year. Perhaps he does; perhaps he doesn't. You are none the wiser. But imagine what often happens in the houses of a poorer class. I need not go into details, but I say that a good supply of water, pure for drinking, is an element of health which ought to be provided, and that you can't provide it in a better way than by fountains. These, in what are now called the dark ages, formed some of the chief ornaments of a town, and I see no reason why they should not do so now.

I don't want to bring in such vast bodies of water as were brought through miles of aqueducts into Rome, or such lavish displays as you have seen, e.g., in Paris, or even such things as our fountains in Trafalgar Square. Nearly all these send their waters into the drains.

There are fountains even now in most of our towns-a very elegant one at Southport, for example, but, again, with all the water running to waste; whereas in some of the most picturesque mediæval examples it came out in small useful jets, as I would have them here; and I feel no doubt that, by a skilful arrangement of gas jets, the effects of frost might be prevented, and a great boon thus conferred in winter, on rich and poor alike;

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »