1934 Exhibition

GIDEA PARK MODERN HOMES EXHIBITION 1934

In 1925 the Southend Arterial Road, now known as Eastern Avenue, was built across the northern part of the land intended for the Suburb. Still with the hope of encouraging further development, in 1934 Major Ralph Raphael (Herbert Raphael’s nephew) and Gidea Park Ltd promoted “The Modern Homes Exhibition”, with the ostensible object of demonstrating that architect-designed houses could be built economically and compete successfully with the work of the speculative builder. 25 winning designs, including 10 for semi-detached houses, were selected by a committee of architects appointed by Sir Raymond Unwin, the then president of the Royal Institute of British Architects, and 35 exhibition houses (15 detached and 20 semi-detached) were erected in these designs in Heath Drive, Brook Road and Eastern Avenue. Many of these were interesting flat-roofed designs in a “modern” idiom, some of concrete construction. In particular no. 64 Heath Drive was designed by Tecton Ltd with whom the famous “modern” architect, Lubetkin, was associated. The prices of the 1934 exhibition houses ranged from £1,475 for a 4 bedroom detached house to £650 for a 3 bedroom semi-detached house. Building plots were offered for sale in Heath Drive, Brook Road, Links Avenue and on both sides of Eastern Avenue but, apart from the exhibition strip, Eastern Avenue was never developed and the 1934 exhibition houses do not appear to have been reproduced elsewhere in the Suburb.

L. J. Leicester, M.A (Cantab.)