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Devon County

Devonshire Rgt.

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The cost of building is believed to be £95 for each small house, or the total cost including the land, might be put at £130. Four percent interest on this sum is £5 4s per annum and a further allowance of £2 12s for taxes and repairs would make a total  annual charge of £7 16s or exactly three shillings per week rental on the total cost of each house.


Many of the houses have been sold by their builders at £155 each, a profit of 15% and many others are let at a rental of £10 per annum. a fraction less than four shillings a week.


This statement shows that, without any benevolent assistance and without the exercise of compulsory powers, a number of good workmen.s dwellings have been provided on terms satisfactory to all parties concerned, and at less rental than would be charged for the same rooms in a lodging house block. Such houses are more compact and complete and have more attractive addresses. The land in Exeter now covered with these working men's dwellings is partly surrounded with houses of a better class, the inhabitants of which might feel some objection to their new neighbours, while the larger houses might also be expected to depreciate in value. It has been confirmed by a competent surveyor that no such depreciation has occurred in this case.


It is certainly very desirable that there should be more mingling of the different classes of our urban population. One of the evils of town life, and especially in large cities is the general separation of the rich and poor into different qurters. If sites could be secured for working men's dwellings so as to avoid this evil, and to bring different classes more together, such contact might be expected to result in increased knowledge and in more sympathy and mutual respect.


The speaker can vouch for the accuracy of the figures concerning these small houses in Exeter. The land was bought by him and the arrangements carried out under his control."


Daniel Radford's intervention was timely. Housing conditions in parts of Exeter,  including this one, can only be described as appalling, resulting in far higher death rates and infant mortality rates among the poor of the city. A few yards from Daniel's little houses were lodging house rooms with no windows and ceilings less than 7 feet high in which two or three families lived, separated by blankets suspended between the walls.


My own great grandmother lived in one of Follett's buildings in Mermaid Yard. She caught TB there and died before she was 45 and the same disease killed a son and a daughter. In spite of this, the family always considered themselves very lucky because after these tragedies they were put in touch with the Grendon Charity who had experimentally built some little houses close by and they were given a  tenancy in one of them.


We measured the width of their house which was  barely 10 feet and I knew from what they had told me years ago  that the house had just 2 rooms up and 2 down - one bedroom for females and one for males in their case, an outside privy, wash house, and coalhouse and not much sunlight, but a far, far better start in life for the surviving family than would have been possible in their previous home, with its constant risks of the spread of disease in the close quarter of a tenement block.


Grendon Buildings Grendon Buildings My Great Grandparent
Since an appearnce on Homes under the Hammer, this is now an Exeter landmark!
Looking up through Grendon Buildings, The little street was close to the Mermaid Yard where my Great Grandfather worked.

No. 11 - The home of my Great Grandfather' s surviving family for many years

(8 people when everyone was at home!)

Daniel Radford showed that landowners could make a decent profit and help the poor to improve their lot at the same time. In the 10 years which followed this talk and the publicity it achieved, there was a building boom in the city. Radford's plan was altered and adapted in many ingenious ways - attic floors were added to give a third bedroom, bay windows put on the fronts, larger plots made available giving the possibility of a good garden, coloured glass in the front doors,  the use of differnt coloured bricks to create patterns and so on. If you have Google Earth, you can make an  overhead flight to look at the Larkbeare Estate (on both sides of Holloway Street as it is today - try inserting this postcode and you can see the houses in our opening photograph. Radford Road Exeter EX2 UK




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