Walden, 22 Backbower Lane, Gee Cross, Hyde
- Heritage Category:
- Listed Building
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
- Statutory Address:
- 22 Backbower Lane, Hyde, SK14 5NS
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- Statutory Address:
- 22 Backbower Lane, Hyde, SK14 5NS
The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- Tameside (Metropolitan Authority)
- Non Civil Parish
- National Grid Reference:
House and boundary wall, 1903 by architects Barry Parker and Raymond Unwin for Edward Berry.
Reasons for Designation
Walden and the front boundary wall, 22 Backbower Lane, Gee Cross, of 1903 by Barry Parker and Raymond Unwin for Edward Berry, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* as a good example of Parker and Unwin’s early-C20 house designs, which draw upon their Arts and Crafts credentials whilst simplifying and removing extraneous detailing to produce a modern vernacular with an emphasis upon comfortable living, rather than convention;
* as a smaller house with an ingenious use of plan and layout to maximise its comfort for the owner and his family;
* the interior remains largely intact with many original features unifying its appearance throughout, including parquet flooring, plank and batten doors with thumb-latch door handles, decorative window ironwork, timber picture rail bands and pelmets and exposed structural timbers;
* the living room is particularly notable, having an inglenook with a pink sandstone ashlar wall, and polygonal projections at each end, one with an angled timber staircase and the other with an original built-in desk and shelving set between the windows. Historic interest:
* designed by the practice of Parker and Unwin, noted architects of the Arts and Crafts Movement who became renowned for their designs for the Garden City Movement, combining their Arts and Crafts approach to architecture with the emerging discipline of town planning to create better living conditions for the working classes;
* Parker and Unwin were committee members of the Northern Art Workers’ Guild, set up by Arts and Crafts advocates and based in nearby Manchester, sharing a similarity of approach to architectural design with the architect Edgar Wood, who was honorary secretary.
Number 22 Backbower Lane was built in the early C20 on the south side of a rural and largely uninhabited road linking the village of Gee Cross and the hamlet of Backbower to the south-east of the large industrial town of Hyde. A portion of the narrow, rectangular plot on which the house stands already belonged to the Berry family, but they acquired the full plot in July 1903. An Indenture and Conveyance of lands dated 24 July 1903 mentions 'the messuage or dwellinghouse then being erected on the said plot of land', and by December 1903 an indenture between Edward Berry and the Perfect Thrift Building Society refer to a dwelling house erected on the land. In addition a payment ledger for Parker and Unwin’s architectural practice records payment to the contractors for a new house for Mr Edward Berry, Gee Cross, Hyde, with a final payment of £500 on 31 December 1903; the entire cost was £693, 01,11. Another indenture from May 1904 first names the house as ‘Walden’, the name inscribed in an Art Nouveau style on a timber plaque attached to the front gate
The house was designed in an Arts and Crafts style. Its provenance as a Parker and Unwin design is confirmed by a signed drawing for the proposed house drawn for Edward Berry, as well as the payment ledger. The plans, section and elevations show a compact house with an unusual keyhole-shaped plan with a wider north-west end with polygonal projections to each side. On the ground floor this contains the living room with an inglenook and a staircase. The drawing details are much as built, with the exception of a V-shaped inset on the ground-floor of the south-west elevation. The house is first shown on the 1:2500 OS map revised in 1907, published in 1910. The shed in the rear garden is later, being first shown on the 1:2500 OS map revised in 1933-1934, published 1935 at which time there was a glass house on its south-east side. The garage is a much later addition, having been built in 1991. (Neither the shed nor the garage are of special interest).
The house largely retains its original layout with the exception of the separate larder which has since been incorporated into the original scullery to become the kitchen with the adjacent kitchen now used as a dining room.
Barry Parker (1867-1947) and his brother-in-law, Raymond Unwin (1863-1940) practised in partnership from 1896 to 1914 as well as individually. They were part of the Arts and Crafts Movement, and shared a position on the Committee of Manchester’s Northern Art Workers Guild (active between 1896 and around 1911), with the architect Edgar Wood as the Honorary Secretary. They became renowned for their early-C20 designs, such as Letchworth, Hertfordshire, combining an Arts and Crafts idiom with Socialist ideals and the emerging discipline of Town Planning to create better working-class living conditions in the Garden City Movement. Their development for Rowntree's Cocoa Company at New Earswick, York, was displayed as a scale model of a ‘Garden Suburb’ scheme at the Guild’s 1903 Exhibition in Manchester. The practice also continued to design larger, individual middle-class houses. It is understood that at the time Walden was commissioned Parker undertook the detailed design with a broader contribution by Unwin. They have many listed buildings to their name.
Parker’s designs at the beginning of the C20 were developing from half-timbered houses into a stripped-back, modern vernacular owing much to the influence of C F A Voysey’s work; Parker’s younger brother Stanley, an architectural assistant and furniture designer was employed by Voysey. Additionally, Parker is likely to have collaborated with assistant Cecil Hignett (1879-1960) who joined the practice around 1901 having been previously articled to Edgar Wood. The use of diagonals is a characteristic of Hignett, also seen at the practice’s design for Inglenook, 1 Uplands Road, Darlington of 1902 to 1904 (Grade II, National Heritage List of England List entry number: 1140082).
The 1911 census shows that the owner Edward Berry (1864-1928) was a cotton cloth salesman who was married with four children. His choice of name for his new house suggests that he commissioned Parker and Unwin because he shared their Fabian ideals of Socialism. ‘Walden; or, Life in the Woods’ was a book first published in 1854 by the noted American transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau, a reflection on simple living and the importance of solitude, contemplation and closeness to nature. At the time that it was built the house was surrounded by fields, rather than other houses as now (2018).
House and boundary wall, 1903 by architects Barry Parker and Raymond Unwin for Edward Berry. The later garden shed and garage are not of special interest and are not included in the listing.
MATERIALS: brick and roughcast, with a red tile roof and brick stack.
PLAN: the house has a keyhole-shaped plan and is of two storeys. The ground floor has a lobby entry with a doorway to each side. The left doorway opens into a large living room with an inglenook and polygonal projections to each side, one containing an angled staircase. The right doorway opens into the kitchen and beyond, a rear doorway and lobby, former coal store and a WC. The first floor has three bedrooms and a bathroom opening off a corridor.
EXTERIOR: the house is set back from the road on a narrow, rectangular plot. It has a rendered plinth and roughcast walls, painted white. The red tiled roof is double-pitched with sprocketed eaves and the polygonal projections at the north-west end have lower, multi-pitched roofs. The gables have plain barge boards with timber soffits to the overhanging eaves. Towards the centre of the ridge is a brick stack with stone coping. The windows have no visible framing, with roughcast continuing up to the metal frames. The window frames are either casements or fixed with small pane leaded glazing. A number of windows have horizontal, chamfered hood moulds which are roughcast.
The north-west elevation facing the road has a central gable flanked by diagonally-angled walls, which form part of the polygonal projections. The gable wall has a three-light mullioned window to the left-hand side of the ground floor and a centrally placed four-light mullioned window on the first floor, both with hood moulds. To the right-hand side is a decorative cast-iron hopper and down pipe and a cast-iron waste pipe. The left-hand angled wall has a two-light mullioned window with a hood mould on the ground floor and a row of three small, square windows beneath the eaves. The right-hand angled wall has a similar row of small, square windows beneath the eaves.
The south-west long elevation has a polygonal projection at the left-hand end (the outer angled wall forms part of the north-west elevation described above). The central, narrow bay has a small, square window beneath the eaves and the inner angled wall has a three-light mullioned window with a hood mould on the ground floor and two small, square windows beneath the eaves. Adjacent to the polygonal projection is the entrance doorway with a roughcast hood mould and stone step. The plank and batten door has a narrow, rectangular light with leaded glazing. To the right of the doorway is a cast-iron down pipe and a three-light mullioned window with hood mould on the ground floor with a two-light mullioned window on the first floor which projects above the eaves as a flat-roofed dormer. There is a second cast-iron down pipe close to the right-hand corner.
The south-east, garden, elevation is gabled with single-light windows to the left-hand and right-hand sides of the ground floor. Right of centre is a wide segmental-arched opening with a recessed door and a timber-framed window set flush with the wall. The doorway has a sill of small, square quarry tiles, which continue into the lobby, and a sliding plank and batten door with a glazed upper half with iron security bars to the rear of toughened glass. The window has iron security bars to the rear of toughened glass. The first floor has a centrally placed four-light mullioned window with a hood mould.
The north-east long elevation has a polygonal projection at the right-hand end (the outer angled wall forms part of the north-west elevation described above). The central, narrow bay has a small, square window beneath the eaves and the inner angled wall has a two-light mullioned window with a hood mould on the ground floor and two small, square windows beneath the eaves. On the ground floor to the immediate left of the polygonal projection is a single-light window with hood mould, which is a fire window for the inglenook. Flanking this are two cast-iron down pipes. To the left is a three-light mullioned window with hood mould with a three-light mullioned window on the first floor which projects above the eaves as a flat-roofed dormer. Close to the left-hand corner is another cast-iron down pipe.
INTERIOR: the interior largely retains many original fixtures and fittings, such as plank and batten doors with narrow, rectangular lights with leaded glazing and chamfered sills on the ground floor and narrow, rectangular recesses with chamfered sills on the first floor. The doors have decorative upright door handles with thumb latches. The metal casement window frames have decorative ironwork turnbuckle catches and spiral-ended window stays. Many of the rooms have timber bands at picture rail height, timber pelmets with shaped brackets over the windows, and exposed structural timbers which are stained dark brown.
The lobby entry has parquet flooring, a coat hook rail with a hat hook rail above and a built-in cupboard.
The main ground-floor room is the living room with polygonal recesses at each end. The room has parquet flooring and exposed joists and cross beams. On the inner, south-east side is an inglenook with a bressummer beam and an irregularly-coursed ashlar wall of pink sandstone incorporating a flush fireplace with a slightly-projecting moulded mantel. The fireplace has a shaped beaten copper hood and cast-iron grate with a fitted metal sunken ash bucket beneath the grate, and a raised, semi-circular hearth with brown glazed tiles and an ashlar edge. To the left is a rectangular copper coal scuttle built into the wall. The north-east polygonal recess has a canted desk and shelving with architrave built-in between the angled windows. The south-west polygonal recess contains an angled staircase with square full-height posts, a panelled timber balustrade on the right-hand side in the living room and a timber upper balustrade with a handrail and plain square-cut balusters. There is a built-in panelled cupboard beneath the stairs and the vertical-boarded back to a former bench in the angled corner.
The rear lobby has a quarry tile floor with an inset runner for the sliding back door and a quarry tile window sill. The doors to each side (to the former coal store and to the WC) have plain plank and batten doors with strap hinges.
The main bedroom at the head of the stairs has full-height, built-in shelving with panelled doors behind the bedroom door. The inner wall has a fireplace with an ashlar mantelpiece with a shaped beaten copper hood and cast-iron grate with a raised, rectangular hearth with dark green glazed tiles.
SUBSIDIARY ITEMS: the boundary wall fronting the road is built of roughly shaped stone blocks of varying sizes with a coping of upright stones and square gate piers with ashlar caps.
Books and journals
Parker, Barry, Unwin, Raymond, The Art of Building a Home, (1901, reproduced 2018), 109-133
Drawing of proposed house at Gee Cross, Hyde, by Parker and Unwin for Edward Berry Esq. Plan 2365/Drawing number 1786 held by The Garden City Collection, Letchworth, accessed March 2018 from http://www.gardencitycollection.com
Parker and Unwin 1903 payment ledger, p24, held by The Garden City Collection Study Centre, Letchworth, Herts.
This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.
The listed buildings are shown coloured blue on the attached map. Pursuant to s1 (5A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 (‘the Act’) structures attached to or within the curtilage of the listed building but not coloured blue on the map, are not to be treated as part of the listed building for the purposes of the Act. However, any works to these structures which have the potential to affect the character of the listed building as a building of special architectural or historic interest may still require Listed Building Consent (LBC) and this is a matter for the Local Planning Authority (LPA) to determine.
End of official listing