Daniel Radford introduced his subject thus:
"Exeter is the County Town of Devonshire and contains about 40,000 inhabitants. Like other old fortified towns, Exeter was compressed into a limited space, and the tall houses in the older parts are mostly let in tenements of a very unsatisfactory character. This was to some extent relieved by the erection of a number of small houses a few years ago in what is called the New Town, and some blocks of model lodging houses. All these were occupied and there was still a demand for workmen's dwellings. To meet this demand six acres of land at Larkbeare*, in the southern part of Exeter, about half a mile from the cathedral, were laid out for building small houses, with the following results. The first cost of the land, including some old buildings, averaged £850 per acre, or a total of £5,100. To this must be added the cost of making 820 yards of roads and sewers at £2 per yard - total £1640 0 and a further sum for legal expenses, surveyor's charges and sundries of £760 making altogether a total cost of £7500.
The roads are well-made, and are all 36 feet wide. A 6-feet pathway each side leaves a 24 feet carriage road. The pathways are properly curbed and channelled and the sewers are constructed of six and nine inch stoneware socket-jointed pipes, put together in cement, laid in straight lines between manholes so as to afford every facility for flushing and cleansing.
Nearly the whole of the land fronting on to these new roads has been divided into freehold building sites, each plot being fifteen feet wide and of varying depth, but in every case giving space for a yard or small garden behind each house. Two hundred and thirty-nine plots have been so formed and of these, only seventeen have derived an extra value from extra size or from special frontages, leaving two hundred and twenty two plots all of a similar class; and all of these have been sold as sites for working men's dwellings at an average of slightly less than £30 for each plot. The total amount realised from the sale of the two hundred and thirty nine plots is £7596 as compared with the total cost already given of £7500.
There will be some further charges incidental to the making up the roads before they are taken over by the Local Authority; but the account iS practically balanced and shows that such sites can be provided for £30 each, with land at £850 per acre.
Of course it was part of this scheme to ensure houses of a certain class being built and every plot of land has been sold with restrictions that the house built upon it shall be according to the plan provided and that no intoxicating drink shall be sold. Each of the small houses is brick built, with slated roof, and has a separate entrance. It contains two rooms and a small scullery on the ground floor and two bedrooms over. The lower rooms are each 11 feet by 10 feet, and one bedroom is 14 feet by 10 and one 9 by 10. Each house has a separate water supply and water closet and all sanitary arrangements have been carried out under the supervision of the Local Authority.. In two years, one hundred and forty five houses have been built, which are all occupied and twenty-eight more are in progress, Schools have erected on seven plots leaving only forty two plots still vacant.
*If you have travelled out of Exeter towards Topsham, then you have passed through the Larkbeare Estate. As you leave the city and proceed down Holloway Street towards the Topsham Road, its little streets (all named as "roads" branch off on both sides - these are addresses to take pride in, not the meaningless numbers of tenements in large blocks.