Model village

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Almshouses in Saltaire, Yorkshire, typical of the architecture of the whole village Saltaire Almshouses.jpg
Almshouses in Saltaire, Yorkshire, typical of the architecture of the whole village

A model village is a type of mostly self-contained community, built from the late 18th century onwards by landowners and business magnates to house their workers. Although the villages are located close to the workplace, they are generally physically separated from them and often consist of relatively high quality housing, with integrated community amenities and attractive physical environments. "Model" is used in the sense of an ideal to which other developments could aspire.


British Isles

An example of houses at Port Sunlight. Houses on Greendale Avenue, Port Sunlight.jpg
An example of houses at Port Sunlight.
Typical local shopping parade in Bournville village BirminghamBournvilleShops.jpg
Typical local shopping parade in Bournville village

The term model village was first used by the Victorians to describe the new settlements created on the rural estates of the landed gentry in the eighteenth century. As landowners sought to improve their estates for aesthetic reasons, new landscapes were created and the cottages of the poor were demolished and rebuilt out of sight of their country house vistas. [1] New villages were created at Nuneham Courtenay when the village was rebuilt as plain brick dwellings either side of the main road, at Milton Abbas the village was moved and rebuilt in a rustic style and Blaise Hamlet in Bristol had individually designed buildings, some with thatched roofs. [2]

The Swing Riots of 1830 highlighted poor housing in the countryside, ill health and immorality and landowners had a responsibility to provide cottages with basic sanitation. The best landlords provided accommodation but many adopted a paternalistic attitude when they built model dwellings and imposed their own standards on the tenants charging low rents but paying low wages. [3]

As the Industrial Revolution took hold, industrialists who built factories in rural locations provided housing for workers clustered around the workplace. An early example of an industrial model village was New Lanark built by Robert Owen. [4] Philanthropic coal owners provided decent accommodation for miners from the early nineteenth century. Earl Fitzwilliam, a paternalistic colliery owner provided houses near his coal pits in Elsecar near Barnsley that were "...of a class superior in size and arrangement, and in conveniences attached, to those of working classes." [5] They had four rooms and a pantry, and outside a small garden and pig sty. [6]

Others were established by Edward Akroyd at Copley between 1849 and 1853 and Ackroyden 1861-63. Akroyd employed Giles Gilbert Scott. Titus Salt built a model village at Saltaire. [7] Henry Ripley, owner of Bowling Dyeworks, began construction of Ripley Ville in Bradford in 1866. [8] Industrial communities were established at Price's Village [9] by Price's Patent Candle Company and at Aintree by Hartley's, who made jam, in 1888. [10] William Lever's Port Sunlight had a village green and its houses espoused an idealised rural vernacular style. [7] Quaker industrialists, George Cadbury and Rowntrees built model villages by their factories. Cadbury built Bournville between 1898 and 1905 and a second phase from 1914 and New Earswick was built in 1902 for Rowntrees. [11]

As coal mining expanded villages were built to house coal miners. In Yorkshire, Grimethorpe, Goldthorpe, Woodlands, Fitzwilliam and Bottom Boat were built to house workers at the collieries. The architect who designed Woodlands and Creswell Model Villages, Percy B. Houfton was influential in the development of the garden city movement.

In the 1920s Silver End model village in Essex was built for Francis Henry Crittall. Its houses were designed in an art deco-style with flat roofs and Crittall windows. [12] The more recent development of Poundbury, a model village in rural Dorset has been supported by the Prince of Wales.


Almshouses at Ripley Ville, Yorkshire. Built 1881 and now the only remaining example of the architecture of the village Bowling Dye Works Almshouses - New Cross Street - - 638072.jpg
Almshouses at Ripley Ville, Yorkshire. Built 1881 and now the only remaining example of the architecture of the village

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Czech Republic



Crespi d'Adda Crespi d'Adda (Ian Spackman 2007-007-32).jpg
Crespi d’Adda



New Zealand

See also

Related Research Articles

Saltaire Village in West Yorkshire, England

Saltaire is a Victorian model village in Shipley, part of the City of Bradford Metropolitan District, in West Yorkshire, England. The Victorian era Salt's Mill and associated residential district located by the River Aire and Leeds and Liverpool Canal is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site and an Anchor Point of the European Route of Industrial Heritage.

New Earswick Model village and civil parish in North Yorkshire, England

New Earswick is a model village and civil parish in the unitary authority of City of York in North Yorkshire, England, near the River Foss, north of York and south of Haxby. According to the 2001 census the parish had a population of 2,812, reducing to 2,737 at the 2011 Census.

Ripley, Derbyshire Town in Amber Valley district, Derbyshire, England

Ripley is a town in the Amber Valley borough of Derbyshire, England. Engineers from Ripley came up with some early improvements to the railway system.

A semi-detached house is a single family duplex dwelling house that shares one common wall with the next house. The name distinguishes this style of house from detached houses, with no shared walls, and terraced houses, with a shared wall on both sides. Often, semi-detached houses are built in pairs in which each house's layout is a mirror image of the other's.

Woodlands, South Yorkshire Model village in South Yorkshire, England

Woodlands is a model village 3 miles (5 km) north of Doncaster in South Yorkshire, England. The village falls within the Adwick Ward of Doncaster MBC. The colliery village was designed and built in the early 20th century by the architect Percy Houfton as tied cottages for the miners of the neighbouring Brodsworth Colliery. In an era of model villages such as Saltaire, Port Sunlight and Bournville, Woodlands, with extensive open spaces, many different designs of houses, and overall living conditions superb for their time, possibly represents the height of the model village movement. The village is a conservation area.

Bournville Human settlement in England

Bournville is a model village on the southwest side of Birmingham, England, founded by the Quaker Cadbury family for employees at its Cadbury's factory, and designed to be a "garden" village where the sale of alcohol was forbidden. Cadbury's is well known for chocolate products – including a dark chocolate bar branded Bournville. Historically in northern Worcestershire, it is also a ward within the council constituency of Selly Oak and home to the Bournville Centre for Visual Arts. Bournville is known as one of the most desirable areas to live in the UK; research by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation in 2003 found that it was "one of the nicest places to live in Britain".

Maltby, South Yorkshire Town and civil parish in South Yorkshire, England

Maltby is a former mining town and civil parish of 16,688 inhabitants (2011) in the Metropolitan Borough of Rotherham, South Yorkshire, England. It was historically in the West Riding of Yorkshire. It is located about 6 miles (10 km) east of Rotherham town centre and 10 miles (16 km) north-east of Sheffield city centre. It forms a continuous urban area with Hellaby, separated from the rest of Rotherham by the M18 motorway.

Featherstone Town and civil parish in West Yorkshire, England

Featherstone is a town and civil parish in the City of Wakefield, West Yorkshire, England, two miles south-west of Pontefract. Historically part of the West Riding of Yorkshire, in 2011 it had a population of 15,244. Featherstone railway station is on the Pontefract Line.

Company town Town where stores and housing are owned by one company that is the main employer

A company town is a place where practically all stores and housing are owned by the one company that is also the main employer. Company towns are often planned with a suite of amenities such as stores, houses of worship, schools, markets and recreation facilities. They are usually bigger than a model village.

Raymond Unwin

Sir Raymond Unwin was a prominent and influential English engineer, architect and town planner, with an emphasis on improvements in working class housing.

Pit village Settlement for housing colliery workers

A pit village, colliery village or mining village is a settlement built by colliery owners to house their workers. The villages were built on the coalfields of Great Britain during the Industrial Revolution where new coal mines were developed in isolated or unpopulated areas. Such settlements were developed by companies for the incoming workers.

Brodsworth Colliery Former coal mine in South Yorkshire, England

Brodsworth Colliery was a coal mine north west of Doncaster and west of the Great North Road. in South Yorkshire, England. Two shafts were sunk between October 1905 and 1907 in a joint venture by the Hickleton Main Colliery Company and the Staveley Coal and Iron Company.

National Coal Mining Museum for England

The National Coal Mining Museum for England is based at the site of Caphouse Colliery in Overton, Wakefield, West Yorkshire, England. It opened in 1988 as the Yorkshire Mining Museum and was granted national status in 1995.


The Akroydon model housing scheme is a Victorian-era model village at Boothtown, Halifax, in the Metropolitan Borough of Calderdale in West Yorkshire, England. It was designed in the Gothic style by George Gilbert Scott in 1859 for the workers at the mills of Colonel Edward Akroyd, who had bought, in 1855, the 62,435 acres (25,267 ha) of land on which the houses were to be built.

Henry Ripley

Sir Henry William Ripley, 1st Baronet, was a British businessman, philanthropist and Liberal Party politician who switched to the Conservative Party.

Kiveton Park Colliery Former coal mine in South Yorkshire, England

Kiveton Park Colliery was a coal mine in the village of Kiveton Park, near Rotherham, South Yorkshire, England.

Sharlston Village in West Yorkshire, England

Sharlston is a village and civil parish situated 4 miles (6.4 km) east of Wakefield in West Yorkshire, England, and includes the settlements of Old Sharlston, Sharlston Common and New Sharlston. Its population at the 2001 census was 2,756, reducing to 2,663 at the 2011 Census. The village lies in the City of Wakefield unitary district.

New Bolsover model village Human settlement in England

New Bolsover model village is a village adjoining the town of Bolsover in Derbyshire.

The Joseph Rowntree School is a comprehensive school on Haxby Road in New Earswick in the unitary authority City of York, England.

Hodsock Settlement and civil parish in Nottinghamshire, England

Hodsock is a settlement and civil parish about 4 miles from Worksop, in the Bassetlaw district, in the county of Nottinghamshire, England. The parish includes the village of Langold and the country house Hodsock Priory. In 2011 the parish had a population of 2,472. The parish is surrounded by the settlements of Babworth, Barnby Moor, Blyth, Carlton in Lindrick, Costhorpe, Firbeck, Letwell, Maltby, Styrrup with Oldcotes and Torworth.



  1. Burchardt 2002, p. 58
  2. Burchardt 2002, p. 59
  3. Burchardt 2002, p. 60
  4. Burchardt 2002, p. 61
  5. Thornes 1994, p. 78
  6. Thornes 1994, p. 79
  7. 1 2 Burchardt 2002, p. 62
  8. Walker, R L (2008) When was Ripleyville Built? SEQUALS, ISBN   0 9532139 2 7
  9. Historic England, "Prices Village (1560975)", Research records (formerly PastScape), retrieved 10 May 2014
  10. Hartley's jam village made a conservation area, BBC News, 16 December 2011
  11. Burchardt 2002, p. 63
  12. Silver End - a window on the past, BBC, 22 July 2009, retrieved 20 June 2015
  13. Barrow Bridge Conservation Area (PDF),, archived from the original (PDF) on 25 August 2012, retrieved 28 July 2011
  14. Vulcan Village Conservation Area appraisal (PDF), St Helens Council, retrieved 13 March 2021
  15. Sharlston Colliery Model Village, Heritage Gateway, retrieved 13 August 2015
  16. Historic England, "Port Sunlight (1362582)", Research records (formerly PastScape), retrieved 10 May 2014
  17. Historic England, "The Model Village (929805)", Research records (formerly PastScape), retrieved 10 May 2014
  18. Historic England, "New Bolsover Model Village (613327)", Research records (formerly PastScape), retrieved 10 May 2014
  19. The garden village of New Earswick (PDF), Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust, p. 2, archived from the original (PDF) on 4 October 2013, retrieved 10 May 2014
  20. A study of Woodlands Model Colliery Village 1907-1909, Royal Institute of British Architects, retrieved 10 May 2014
  21. Pawson, Eric. "Wason, John Cathcart". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography . Ministry for Culture and Heritage . Retrieved 31 July 2010.


  • Burchardt, Jeremy (2002), Paradise Lost: Rural Idyll and Social Change Since 1800, I. B. Tauris, ISBN   1860645143
  • Thornes, Robin (1994), Images of Industry: Coal, Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England, ISBN   1-873592-23-X

Further reading