Moorfields/Moorland Estate history

The Moorland Estate

After World War 2 there was a national housing crisis, Bath had lost 1029 dwellings in the blitz of April 1942, and in addition had to cope with the influx of Admiralty workers.  The Government had decided that the Admiralty offices which had been brought to Bath for safety during the war should be permanently located in the City.  The City Council were beginning to respond to the crisis by 1946.  Eighty six houses which were nearing completion at Whiteway were among the first permanent homes in the country to be started after the war, but the site for these had already been prepared in 1939 and building stopped when hostilities broke out.  Temporary prefabricated homes were springing up around the City including Hillside Road and Durley Park.  But the Moorlands Estate was Bath’s first housing scheme completely planned and built after the war.

In May 1946 the Council went out to tender on the first 88 homes in the scheme and the ‘Chronicle’ was lavish in its praise for the plans.  The reporter told how ‘the living rooms of the houses will face south and have a sun terrace outside.  Most of the houses will have a large living room….. there will be either a dining room and a utility room, or a dining room and kitchen for cooking and washing.  Each house will have outbuildings to include garden and fuel store and WC, the bathroom in every house will be upstairs.’  When this estate was built four out of ten British households had no fixed bath, well over a third had outside toilets and under half had a hot water tap.  These new houses must have seemed luxury indeed.

The area needed a new road network, and the ‘Chronicle’ describes how ‘a new road has been made across the southern part of the site linking The Oval and the Hensley Estate (Moorfields Road) and a further cross road linking this with Cotswold Road (Ashford Road).  The Chronicle also went on to describe the landscaping of the site.  ‘The layout provides for all the front gardens to be open with lawns and formal flower beds and no wire or fencing.  The gardens will be linked with terraces which will be most attractive and quite different from the usual Council estate appearance.  A large amount of open ground has been left in front of the houses so that they will lie well back from the road and lying behind the blocks of houses will be open spaces to be used as children’s playgrounds and supplementary gardens.’

Building work started on August26, 1946 and in October, 1947 the first block of four houses and two sets of flats in Cotswold Road were completed by Howells Bros and handed over to the Council.  Over the next fifteen months or so the houses were completed and families moved in.  By February 1949 the last house in this first phase was completed and a family ready to move in.  Moorlands was by this time receiving attention nationally as an example of the way public housing ought to be going and it was to emphasise this that Nye Bevan, Minister of Health, came to Bath to commend the City fathers for their inspired approach to public housing and to hand over the last house to be completed in Chantry Mead Road to its new tenant.  The lucky family who received the house on 18th February were Mr and Mrs H J Hector and their three children.  Mr Hector was a printer’s reader who had been bombed out during the war.   Nye Bevan toured the houses and met some of the residents of The Moorlands.  He described the estate as ‘lovely’ and a ‘real example of what we would like other housing estates to look like.’  Bevan went on to speak about how impressed he was with the use of green space and the mixture of different types of accommodation – flats and 2, 3, 4 bedroom houses etc.  The building of the first 205 dwellings was just the beginning.  The new school was opened in 1950 and the Moorlands Estate was gradually extended with more family houses and flats.

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