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National Library of Wales
Welsh Town-Planning and Housing Trust Records

Reference code(s): GB 0210 TOWPLA

Held at: National Library of Wales

Title: Welsh Town-Planning and Housing Trust Records

Short Title: Welsh Town-Planning and Housing Trust Records

Creation date(s): 1890-2003

Level of description: Fonds

Extent: 1.56 cubic metres (56 boxes); (24 boxes in July 1997 Donation; 32 boxes in September 2012 Donation)

Name of creator(s): Welsh Town-Planning and Housing Trust


Administrative/Biographical history: The Welsh Town-Planning and Housing Trust Limited was founded in 1913 as a public utility company with the aim of promoting improved housing conditions in Wales and elsewhere. The need for better housing and planning had been highlighted by an anti-tuberculosis campaign led by David Davies, MP (later Lord Davies of Llandinam) and his sisters Gwendoline and Margaret Davies of Gregynog between 1911 and 1913, but little positive action had been taken by local authorities despite the Town Planning Act of 1909. The Davieses felt that these problems could best be dealt with by private owners acting through a public limited company with restricted dividend, and as a result they founded the Trust. Private owners including Cadbury, Lever and Rowntree had successfully developed modern housing for their workers, and experiments more similar to the Trust had included public utility companies such as First Garden City at Letchworth, Hampstead Garden Suburb and a number of housing societies organised by Co-partnership Tenants Limited. -- The Trust was registered under the Joint Stock Companies' Acts, with offices in Cardiff and London, and its officers comprised a Chairman (David Davies), a Deputy Chairman, a Managing Director, a Board of Directors (including the three aforementioned as well as Lord Kenyon, Lord Treowen, Aneurin Williams, MP, Sir Daniel Lleufer Thomas and others), a General Manager and Architect and a Secretary and Accountant. The responsibilities of General Manager and Architect were combined in a single post, as were those of Secretary and Accountant. -- The declared objective of the Trust was to build and manage modern towns, villages and suburbs as co-partnerships whilst paying a dividend not exceeding 6% upon its capital. There was a commitment to establishing and maintaining a range of mutual and co-operative societies, and also to providing expert professional advice on town planning and housing and estate development. Minimum standards were set regarding the quality of the buildings, the number of houses (12) per acre, the styles of architecture used (including the use of local materials and traditions), facilities for recreation, and the provision of gardens and open spaces, and efforts were made to ensure a balance of domestic, commercial and public premises. Any balance of profit was to be re-invested for the benefit of the Trust's estates. The acquisition of sites and the planning and management of estates were carried out directly by the Trust, but construction work was done by contractors, and estates were usually leased to co-operative public utility housing societies or associations which were controlled by committees elected by residents who gained membership upon payment of a subscription. Properties were often eventually sold to the tenants, and many plots were either leased directly to tenants by the Trust or sold for the erection of houses under covenants. -- Although local and national government often provided practical and financial support, the scale of the Trust's work was limited by its heavy dependence upon private capital. Many projects were undertaken by the Trust acting alone (at Wrexham, Machynlleth, Llanidloes, Weston Rhyn and Barry) or inherited from philanthropic charities (at Rhiwbina), while others were developed in conjunction with local authorities (at Newtown, Welshpool, Sedgley, Braintree and Woodford) and central government departments (at Burry Port), and others with private companies such as the Taff Merthyr Steam Coal Company (at Trelewis) and in particular railway companies such as the Barry Railway Company and most notably the Great Western Railway (at Severn Tunnel Junction, Swansea, Caerphilly, Barry, Llanelli, Truro, Penzance, Plymouth, Banbury, Acton and Hayes). All of these projects fulfilled their purpose, despite many predictions of failure, and the Trust's collaboration with the GWR from 1923 proved particularly successful in providing a supply of rented accommodation for railwaymen. The scheme was financed mainly by the GWR, which acquired the sites, engaged the Trust's planning expertise, and then leased the estates to housing associations on favourable terms under the management of the Trust. -- The provision of housing came to be accepted as a normal obligation of government after the hardship and upheavals of the mid twentieth century, but post-war austerity meant that there was still a need for public utility housing companies and societies at a time when new housing was needed and both national and local government bodies were short of funds. At the same time, some of the local societies registered under the Trust sold their houses to the sitting tenants, and consequently left the Trust (notably at Machynlleth, Llanidloes, Wrexham and Weston Rhyn). The railwaymen's housing schemes (retaining the 'Great Western' name) remained under the British Transport Commission after the GWR became British Railways (Western Region) in 1948; they were offically wound up in 1976, but continued to operate under different management. -- By the late 1960s, the Trust had amassed a large amount of money, partly from the sale of much of its housing stock, and partly because of its decreasing commitments as government took more responsibility for housing provision. In order to make use of this money, and for the convenience of its largest shareholder, the Margaret Davies Charity, the Welsh Town-Planning and Housing Trust went into voluntarily liquidation in 1967 and was then re-incorporated, interchanging names with a company that had previously been listed (since 1948) as Waltplan. Under the same name, but technically as a different company, it has continued its work until the present day.


Scope and content/abstract: Records of the Welsh Town-Planning and Housing Trust Limited, established in 1913, including minute books, deeds, correspondence, financial papers and printed material relating to housing estates in Barry, Burry Port, Llanidloes, Machynlleth, Newtown, Rhiwbina, Weston Rhyn and Wrexham, and other associated papers.


Language/scripts of material: English, some Welsh

System of arrangement: Arranged at NLW into two groups: 1997 Donation and 2012 Donation.

Conditions governing access: Readers consulting modern papers in the National Library of Wales are required to sign the 'Modern papers - data protection' form.

Conditions governing reproduction: Usual copyright laws apply.

Physical characteristics: Some of the items in the archive have been affected by damp.

Finding aids:


Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information: The fonds has been appraised: details are given at the appropriate level of description. A number of items have been removed and listed as Margaret Davies (Gregynog) Charities Records, and a bundle of Gregynog Press accounts has been transferred to the Gregynog Press archive.

Accruals: Accruals are possible.

Archival history: These papers arrived at NLW together with records of a number of charities founded by Margaret Davies, and also some records of the Gregynog Press, all of which seem to have been placed with the Trust archive by officers of the Trust at about the time of Miss Davies's death in 1963.

Immediate source of acquisition: Donated by the late Mr Islwyn Davies, Welsh Town-Planning and Housing Trust, Newtown, July 1997, and by Mrs Susan Hamer, Secretary of the Trust, Newtown, September 2012.


Related material: Further records of the Trust are Glamorgan Record Office : Welsh Town-Planning and Housing Trust Plans and Photographs. Print blocks, a number of Gregynog engravings, photographs of Directors of the Trust and a volume of photographs and plans of Trust projects are in NLW (acquisition numbers 0200212592-4).


Note: Earliest date of creation supplied from documents which pre-date the inception of the Trust in 1913.

Archivist's note: Compiled by David Moore. The following sources were used in the compilation of this description: The Welsh Town-Planning and Housing Trust Limited (Cardiff, 1923); Lloyd, T. Alwyn, 'The Welsh Town Planning and Housing Trust and its affiliated societies' in Town Planning Review xxiii no. 1 (April 1952), 40-51; 'The Welsh Town-Planning and Housing Trust Limited: a brief record of its activities 1913-26' (Welsh Town-Planning and Housing Trust: Cardiff, 1926); documents within the archive.

Rules or conventions: This description follows NLW guidelines based on ISAD(G) 2nd ed.; AACR2; and LCSH.

Date(s) of descriptions: December 2014

City planning | Wales
Great Western Railway (Great Britain) | Employees | Housing
Housing development | Wales
Housing trusts | Wales
Housing | Wales
Housing, Cooperative | Wales
Planned communities | Wales

Personal names

Corporate names
British Railways | Western Region
Welsh Town-Planning and Housing Trust


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