Row of terraced houses
Wikimedia Commons

Akroydon was a model villageType of mostly self-contained community, built from the late 18th century onwards by landowners and industrialists to house their workers. developed near Edward Akroyd’sIndustrialist, politician and philanthropist. Bankfield mansion in Haley Hill, Halifax in the West Riding of Yorkshire.

Akroyd commissioned George Gilbert Scott to build All Souls Church in 1856, which was completed in 1859. With money from the Halifax Permanent Building Society, the “model community” of 92 terraced houses designed in a “domestic Gothic style” was built around a central park in 1861.[1]

The houses are in blocks of six to ten around the park in streets named after cathedral cities. Scott’s designs for the houses were modified by his pupil W. H. Crossland into a “Neo-Tudor” style. Except for a pair of three-storey semi-detached villas, all were through two-storey houses with cellars and back yards with water closets.[1] All the houses had piped running water, proper drains and a gas supply.[2]

The first 38 houses were built by 1868, but few of the planned 350 had been built by 1873, and the remaining plots were sold in 1894. The earliest houses faced the park.[3] The houses were built for sale, not rental, but mortgages proved to be unaffordable for most of Akroyd’s workers.[1] A stone shield with the new owners’ initials was installed above the door of the first blocks of houses, which cost from £136 to £460. A 26 per cent deposit was required, but Akroyd guaranteed payments for the first three, and subsequently fifteen, years for those of his employees unable to raise the money.[4]

Akroyd’s belief in self-improvement and home ownership was not realised, but his concern for the residential environment foreshadowed the garden-city movement. Akroydon’s facilities included a recreation club with a bowling green and a school (built by Jonathon Akroyd in 1839[3]) providing evening classes for women and a working men’s college. He promoted the horticultural, floral, literary, and scientific societies and for the welfare of his employees, a clothing club, life annuity insurance scheme, mutual improvement society and savings bank.[1]

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Victoria Cross in The Square
Wikimedia Commons

The Square, the development’s central park, covering one and a quarter acres cost £10,000. In its centre is the Victoria Cross, a sort of Eleanor crossSeries of 12 crosses, one built at each place where the funeral cortège of Eleanor of Castile, wife of King Edward I, stopped for the night., designed by W. Swinden Barber which cost £3,000. Keys to the park’s gates were given to Akroyden’s householders in exchange for an annual subscription at a ceremony in 1876. The Square was handed to Halifax Corporation in around 1900 for use by the general public.[5]