top of page

1934 Franklands Village opens: 'As pretty a picture as you could wish to see'

Updated: Oct 16, 2020

Mid Sussex Times - Tuesday 21 August 1934


Franklands Village to be Opened on August 30th.

Franklands Village, the Haywards Heath Housing Society’s estate, will be officially opened on Thursday, August 30th, at 2.45 p.m. The Society was promoted by the Haywards Heath Rotary Club with the object of stimulating employment, improving housing conditions and providing sound investment of unquestionable security. Two pairs of houses and four flats will be complete and on view. Two other pairs of houses and four other flats are approaching completion, and a further four pairs of houses and eight flats are being commenced. The opening ceremony will be performed by Lady Smith Woodward wife of Sir Arthur Smith Woodward, who is a rotarian, and she will be supported by Mrs. Mackenzie (Brighton), wife of Mr. A. D. Mackenzie, Traffic Director of the Southdown Motor Services and Past District Chairman of Rotary District No. 14, which comprises this portion of Sussex, as well as Surrey, Hampshire and a considerable area of South-West London.

Franklands Village [Courtesy, Mid Sussex Times]

Mid Sussex Times - Tuesday 04 September 1934



“A New Spirit of Understanding and Fellowship.”

During its brief existence the Haywards Heath Rotary Club has conferred a number of benefits on the district, but nothing it has achieved has been fraught with greater possibilities than the housing project it has launched. The Haywards Heath Housing Society came into being as the direct outcome of the Rotary Club's scheme for dealing with the unemployment problem, the fact then coming to light that over 80 per cent. of local unemployment occurred amongst persons engaged in the building industry. The Society is really a Rotary venture, as its Management Committee consists entirely of Rotarians. Other Clubs in the country have prompted and assisted local authorities to undertake such schemes, but the Haywards Heath Club, with characteristic initiative, decided to carry one out on its own. “But will the experiment be success?” you might ask. If you were at the opening ceremony on Thursday afternoon you would have no doubt. The scheme is going to be a great success. “Scheme," as applied to housing, has come to be rather a repellant word. It conjures up a vision of rows of featureless, stereotyped buildings— the sort which are erected in haste and repented in leisure. In this case, however, it is not merely a scheme: it is an ideal- an attempt to evolve


Letchworth and Welwyn have their garden cities, but surely a garden village is unique! And it will be a garden village if it is developed according to plan. No better site could have been obtained than the one in Franklands Wood. Some 45 acres in extent, the site lies to the west of the public footpath between Gravelye Lane, Lindfield, and the Lewes Road, Haywards Heath, and it commands a lovely view of the surrounding countryside. The trees screen the houses from the Lewes Road, and one can well imagine what a sequestered and charming haven this will when the village is completed which will in about five years' time. Its inhabitants will then number about 1,200 —quite a colony! Altogether, there are to 180 cottages and flats, while room has been left for a church, a village hall and shops. A concrete road has already been completed, and main drainage installed from end end, while gas, water and electric light services have been laid on. Those people who were present at the opening ceremony took full advantage of the opportunity to inspect the completed buildings, and the “nattiness” of the interiors, with their labour - saving devices, occasioned as much delight as the picturesqueness of the exteriors did admiration. So anxious are the promoters to give general satisfaction that they have built two types of cottages to discover which of them the public prefer, and they invite constructive criticism.


comprises a living room, living kitchen, bath room and three bedrooms. Type “B” comprises a living room, a kitchenette, two bedrooms, a bath room and a room which can be used either as a meals room or as a third bedroom. The flats, which are intended for young married couples, elderly couples, widows with one child, two elderly ladies and those similarly circumstanced, consist of a living room, bedroom, kitchenette and bath room. Some of the cottages have even been built with slightly different arrangement of kitchen and bath room in order to take the opinion of the public as to which arrangement is preferable. The rents of the flats are 7s. per week and of the cottages 12s. per week, which, considering the facilities and amenities provided, are extraordinarily low. Tenants need not fear an unpremeditated visit from a neighbour through the wall. The instruction is of the stoutest, all the houses being fitted with good pine Joinery, because it has not been the object of the Housing Society to produce tenements at the lowest possible cost. Each building has a self-contained hot-water system and a bath room, while there are novel fireplaces which can have


and let-in cupboards to save space. The windows are designed so as to catch all the sunshine possible. What a start to the day to slip out of bed and gaze through the bedroom window at the roiling panorama of glorious countryside bordered by the distant hills! Who would not murmer “It’s good to be alive!” The man behind it all is Mr. Harold G. Turner, F.R.I.B.A., M.lnst. C.E., the Secretary of the Rotary Club and the architect and surveyor of the scheme. "Rotary's aim in doing this,” he stated, when explaining the features of the scheme, “is to show that it is possible through the ordinary channels of industry to provide really modern housing conditions of a rural nature which people can afford and with advantage to investors. The rents, though low, will bring in substantial profit.” The Rotary Club considers that the profit a contribution to the problem of providing employment of a permanent character on a purely economic basis and which will not compete with existing activities. That it will be successful can seen from the fact that there have been forty applicants for every home so far. It is very gratifying to learn that


will be maintained. All the materials being used are British, and, as far possible, are being obtained locally. Even the joinery, which is usually purchased abroad for small cottages, is being manufactured in the district. The contractor Mr. C. V. Hobden, of Ardingly.

Mr. H. Ronald Hardy, the Chairman of the Housing Society, presided at the opening ceremony. He was supported by Lady Smith Woodward, Mrs. Mackenzie (the wife of Mr. A. D. Mackenzie. Past Chairman of Rotary District No. 14), Mr. J. N. Carter (President of the Haywards Heath Rotary Club and member of the Society’s Management Committee), and the Rev. H. T. H. Wightwick (a member of the Club). There was a large attendance of the public.

The Chairman gave some interesting details about the progress of the scheme. He stated that about £7,000 had been subscribed. From this initial subscription they had paid £2,000 for land and had also met the cost of road-making and the gas, water and electric light services, and had laid main drainage through the whole length of the estate- a distance of over half-a-mile. This left the sum available for house-building and for general working capital very limited. To enable the Society’s work to proceed, it was necessary that some of the first buildings should be sold in order to meet the capital expense he had mentioned. It was also necessary that the public should support the Society purchasing the loan stock, which carried four per cent interest. He wanted to impress upon them that the Society had


which would ultimately redeem all the capital invested with the Society; in fact, all the capital subscribed was absolutely secured. Their financial arrangements were such that every £180 invested in the Society in future would enable them to build a cottage or two flats and to hold them as the property of the Society and rent them to those members of the public whose present housing conditions were below standard. At present they were providing accommodation solely for those who had unsatisfactory cottages or had not the whole of a cottage, and they were letting only to residents and workers of Haywards Heath, not to the considerable numbers of persons from other districts who would gladly move there if the cottages and flats were available for them. The estate would ultimately contain about 180 cottages and 180 flats, and, given the support of the public, there was no reason why the activities of the Society should not be extended to other estates. To those desiring to rent, he would say, “Be patient- Rome was not built in day.” It took time not only to build the houses but also to make the necessary financial arrangements. To investors, he offered sound security, and they could combine real service to the community by their investments. If they preferred to have the money under their personal control, the Society would be pleased to mortgage the cottages to them, paying 4 and a half per cent interest. Either investment in their loan stock or mortgages on their property would be of the greatest assistance to them. He asked the public to help the Society by giving their criticisms and suggestions. It was, of course, easy to see ways of improving the houses if they could spend more money, but this they could not do. They


for improvements which did not cost more money and suggestions for economic and improved convenience. Beneath the spirit of “Service before self” there was something far deeper actuating those who had put their time into that enterprise. and he therefore asked the Rev. H. T. H. Wightwick to ask God's blessing upon the work and upon all those who were to live in those houses, that they might not only find new homes but that a new spirit of understanding and fellowship might be built up between all who lived in Franklands Village.

Prayers were then offered up by the Rev. H.T.H. Wightwick, who asked for Divine blessing on the enterprise and on all those for whose benefit it was undertaken—those to whose lot had not fallen a superabundance of goods. “May we realise," he said, "that our duty as a community is to ensure fit and proper homes for the people.”

A bouquet was presented to Lady Smith Woodward by Miss Claire Hardy. Mrs. Mackenzie was also made the recipient of a bouquet, while Mr. Hobden, the contractor, was asked to accept one for his wife.

“I do think this is very great occasion," declared Lady Smith Woodward. “These are not houses ; these are homes. I think the Rotarians of Haywards Heath are most warmly to congratulated on providing homes for people who will appreciate all that has been done, for a great deal of thought has gone to the construction of these houses." Referring to a questionnaire which was being circulated, Lady Smith Woodward said this would make them realise that the Management Committee were most anxious that the buildings should be


and they welcomed suggestions which would be useful and not mere carping criticisms. Homes really did mean love, and that was something of which they could not have too much. She thought that a woman looked at a house from a different standpoint to a man. She imagined that to a man a house was something accomplished, something done, as if it might be a column of figures that had been added up, but to woman a house was her workshop, where she achieved her life. When a woman saw an empty house her imagination began to work, and she planned how much better she would make it. Lady Smith Woodward mentioned that in the forty years of her married life she had lived in only two houses, and they had been real homes to her. I hope with all my heart." she concluded, ‘‘that the people who enter into these new homes will have every possible happiness and will love their life here much as I have loved life in Haywards Heath."

Mr. Hardy then handed Lady Smith Woodward a pair of scissors, and, cutting a ribbon across the gateway, she proceeded into the first house, which she inspected with much interest. She afterwards visited the other houses and flats, the public following her example. Fortunately, the ceremony concluded before the threatening clouds broke.

The eventful afternoon concluded with tea at the Birch Hotel.


bottom of page