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Model village

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Title: Model village  
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Subject: Crespi d'Adda, Model villages, Broomfields, Bradford, History of urban planning, Theories of urban planning
Collection: Model Villages, Planned Municipal Developments
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Model village

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 industrialists 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 1
    • England 1.1
    • Ireland 1.2
    • Scotland 1.3
    • Wales 1.4
  • Europe 2
    • Germany 2.1
    • Italy 2.2
    • Spain 2.3
  • Americas 3
    • Guatemala 3.1
    • Mexico 3.2
    • United States of America 3.3
    • Venezuela 3.4
  • Asia 4
    • India 4.1
  • Australasia 5
    • New Zealand 5.1
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • Further reading 8

British Isles

An example of houses at Port Sunlight.
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 18th 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 near Bath 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 19th 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 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.[10]

As coal mining expanded villages were built to house coal miners. In Yorkshire, Grimethorpe, Goldthorpe, Woodlands and Fitzwilliam 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.[11] 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

(Chronological order)


(Chronological order)





In Germany, Stadt des KdF-Wagens was built for the Volkswagen factory.


In Italy's Lombardy region, Crespi d’Adda is a particularly well-preserved model workers' village, and has been a World Heritage Site since 1995. It was built from scratch, starting in 1878, to provide housing and social services for the workers in a cotton textile factory erected on the banks of the river Adda.


The town of Nuevo Baztán outside of Madrid dates from the mercantilist and entrepreneurial ambitions of an industrialist from the early 18th century.



The term model villages refers to the forcible resettlement programme for civil war refugees in Guatemala developed by the national government to isolate civilians from guerrillas by confining them to closed garrison towns. The system was based on the Strategic Hamlet Program in Vietnam instituted by the US military and the Diem regime during the earlier parts of the Vietnam War,[19] and has parallels with the village guard system enforced by the Turkish government during the Turkish-Kurdish conflict.[20]


The first model villages appeared during the Porfirio Diaz regime, the most notable being Metepec and Tlacotalpan.

Jají model village, Mérida, Venezuela

United States of America

Model villages were also built in the United States along the same lines as planned industrial communities, for example at Gwinn, Michigan and Pullman, Illinois. There were also such agricultural communities as the 18th century Davis Bend, Mississippi. Boulder City, Nevada was originally built in 1931 for housing for workers who were building Hoover Dam.




India has its equivalent as model town. The first was Model Town, Bathinda put up with exclusive purpose of housing the employees of Guru Nanak Thermal Plant. Similar model towns are attached with many Indian cities.


New Zealand

  • Barrhill was laid out by its Scottish aristocratic owner for the workers on his large sheep farm[21]

See also

Related 'idealised' town building schemes:



  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. ^ a b Burchardt 2002, p. 62
  8. ^ Walker, R L (2008) When was Ripleyville Built? SEQUALS, ISBN 0 9532139 2 7
  9. ^  
  10. ^ Burchardt 2002, p. 63
  11. ^ Silver End - a window on the past,  
  12. ^ Barrow Bridge Conservation Area (PDF),, retrieved 28 July 2011 
  13. ^ Sharlston Colliery Model Village, Heritage Gateway, retrieved 13 August 2015 
  14. ^ Historic England, "Port Sunlight (1362582)", PastScape, retrieved 10 May 2014 
  15. ^ Historic England, "The Model Village (929805)", PastScape, retrieved 10 May 2014 
  16. ^ Historic England, "New Bolsover Model Village (613327)", PastScape, retrieved 10 May 2014 
  17. ^ The garden village of New Earswick (PDF), Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust, p. 2, retrieved 10 May 2014 
  18. ^ A study of Woodlands Model Colliery Village 1907-1909, Royal Institute of British Architects, retrieved 10 May 2014 
  19. ^ Sanford, Victoria (19 April 2003). Buried Secrets: Truth and Human Rights in Guatemala. pp. 137–139. 
  20. ^ Turkey's war on the Kurds, 13 August 2005
  21. ^ Pawson, Eric. "Wason, John Cathcart".  


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

Further reading

  • Gillian Darley's 'Villages of Vision: A Study of Strange Utopias' first published 1975 (Architectural Press, pb 1978 Paladin) and republished with fully revised gazetteer 2007 (Five Leaves Publications)
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