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THE BLACK COUNTRY MEMORIES CLUB

The Early History of Stowlawn by Frank Sharman
Part 4 A Plan for Stowlawn

In or about 1943 Alwyn Lloyd was commissioned to draw up a plan for the Stowlawn estate.

T Alwyn Lloyd was a well known architect and planner. He had published a book, “Planning in Town and Country”, which was aimed at the general public (including councillors) to persuade them of the value and virtues of planning. In it he had said that no TCP would work unless the public affected by the plans were consulted about it and involved with it. He had also written a book on “Housing Standards after the War”. In appointing Lloyd the council was engaging a famous figure, and one whose ideas coincided with their own.

Lloyd’s scheme shows that the council had briefed him to plan a community rather than merely design some roads and houses whose inhabitants would have to make use of schools, shops, clubs, pubs, churches, etc.. which already existed elsewhere. They also seem to have wanted open spaces, allotments and nice landscaping. Alwyn Lloyd said, in the brochure for the 1944 exhibition: “The intention of the Corporation for the post-war development of this part of the development is that it shall be planned as a complete ‘neighbourhood’ unit.

 This ... differs materially from what was the previous convention of housing schemes, normally confined to the erection of dwellings without the requisite communal facilities for the full social life of the tenants”. His plan made provision for 640 family houses and 60 to 80 dwellings for elderly people; small groups of garages “because of the likely increase in the number of small cars for family use”; “ample greens and wayside spaces”; a community centre with assembly rooms, canteen, church, health clinic; “sites for four shops ... sufficient to meet purely local and emergency needs, in view of Bilston’s extensive shopping facilities in the town”; 11 acres for football and cricket grounds and tennis courts and a youth centre; and it was hoped to include a gymnasium and swimming bath and a model yacht pond. There was also to be a new school.

The results of the “civic survey” and the proposals for planning Bilston were presented to the public in an exhibition in 1944. The plans shown were not solely concerned with housing - they went in for the usual zoning of land uses - but they included Lloyd’s plan for Stowlawn.

This exhibition was a standard sort for the time – a rather middle class affair, opened by an M.P, attended by the great and good of the locality, held in Brueton House where the library was, in a middle class area and with little attempt to make the results of survey easy to understand; and, although public comment was invited, it was more an explanation of (a selling of) what they had decided rather than a consultation exercise.

The 1944 Exhibition   The 1944 Exhibition   Lloyd’s design for Stowlawn
The 1944 Exhibition   The 1944 Exhibition   Lloyd’s design for Stowlawn

For some reason it seems that Lloyd was abandoned though the general policy behind his plan was not. It is not clear why Lloyd was abandoned by the council (anyway, in respect of Stowlawn. He seems to have been kept on in respect of the proposed Bradley North estate). It seems to be that the council had got excited about Reilly’s ideas and wanted Stowlawn to be built on these principles. But Reilly was not far from Lloyd in his thinking and it would be good to know how this switch of consultants came about.

Continued in Part 5

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