Waterlow Court was the vision of Dame Henrietta Barnett, a leading educationalist and social reformer, who wanted to provide a communal home for “single working gentle ladies”. Backed by the philanthropist, Sir Sydney Waterlow, and designed by M. H. Baillie Scott, an outstanding Arts & Crafts architect, it welcomed its first residents in 1909.
Waterlow Court was just a smaller part of Dame Henrietta Barnett’s larger ambition, that of a garden city of low-density housing for all social classes and all levels of income. This “city” of green became Hampstead Garden Suburb.
Writing in the Contemporary Review of 1905, she explained:
that persons of all classes of society and standards of income should be accommodated and that the handicapped be welcomed.
that the plot divisions should not be walls but hedges or trellis or wire fences.
that noise should be avoided, even to the prohibition of Church or Chapel or Institute bells.
that the cottages and houses should be limited on an average to eight to an acre.
that every road should be lined with trees, making when possible, a colour scheme with the hedges.
that lower ground rents should be charged in certain areas to enable weekly wage earners to live on the Estate.
that the roads should be 40 feet wide, and that the fronts of the houses should be at least 50 feet apart, gardens occupying the intervening space.
that the woods and public gardens should be free to all the tenants without regard to the amount of their ground rent i.e. the best for all classes.
that the houses be so planned that none should spoil each other’s outlook or rob its neighbour of beauty.
The key players in the creation of Waterlow Court were: Sir Sydney Waterlow (1822-1906), philanthropist and chairman of the Improved Industrial Dwellings Company; Dame Henrietta Barnett (1851-1936), social reformer, educationalist, and author; and M. H. Baillie Scott (1865-1945), architect and artist.