Company town

Related Overviews

Claude-Nicolas Ledoux (1736—1806)

Sir George Gilbert Scott (1811—1878) architect

Henry Roberts (1803—1876) architect and housing reformer

Richard Barry Parker (1867—1941) architect and town planner

See all related overviews in Oxford Index » »


'Company town' can also refer to...

Company Towns

Company town


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Company Towns in the United States

Alan Barenberg. Gulag Town, Company Town: Forced Labor and Its Legacy in Vorkuta.

State Paternalism in the Making of a Company Town

A Company Town on Common Waters: Standard Oil in the Calumet

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Labor Earnings in One-Company Towns: Theory and Evidence from Kazakhstan

From The Miners’ Doublehouse: Archaeology and Landscape in A Pennsylvania Coal Company Town

Marcelo J. Borges and Susana B. Torres, editors. Company Towns: Labor, Space, and Power Relations across Time and Continents

Gregg Andrews. Insane Sisters, or, The Price Paid for Challenging a Company Town. Columbia: University of Missouri Press. 1999. Pp. xii, 262. $29.95

Insane Sisters; on The Price Paid for Challenging a Company Town. By Gregg Andrews. (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1999. xiv, 262 pp. $29.95, ISBN 0-8262-1240-9.)

The Company Town: The Industrial Edens and Satanic Mills that Shaped the American Economy. By Hardy Green (New York: Basic Books Press, 2010. vii plus 264 pp.)

Gregg Andrews. City Of Dust: A Cement Company Town in the Land of Tom Sawyer. Columbia: University of Missouri Press. 1996. Pp. xii, 360. $42.50

City of Dust: A Cement Company Town in the Land of Tom Sawyer. By Gregg Andrews. (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1996. xiv, 360 pp. $42.50, ISBN 0-8262-1074-0.)


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Planned development to house factory workers. Early examples include the Saline de Chaux (or du Roi), Arc-et-Senans (1773–8), by Ledoux, and New Lanark, on the Clyde, in Scotland, commenced by David Dale (1739–1806) in 1785, who made provision for the education of the children of those he employed in his cotton mills and also housed. In 1799 Dale sold New Lanark to a Manchester concern which appointed Robert Owen (1771–1856) its manager. Owen (who married Dale's daughter) developed this Company town, adding a nursery, communal buildings, an Institution for the Formation of Character (1812), and the New Institution (1816), which were intended to educate and raise the tone of the working classes who were employed and lived there.

Nonconformists were in the vanguard of the experiments to create Company towns: a good example was John Grubb Richardson (fl. 1830–91), a Quaker who established Bess-brook, Co. Armagh, Ireland, in 1846 as an alcohol-free village with amenities (e.g. schools, a dispensary, community centre, etc.) for those who worked in his linen mill. Bess-brook was to prove an inspiration to other Quakers, including the Cadburys and the Rowntrees. Paternalistic and philanthropically-minded industrialists, such as Colonel Edward Akroyd (1810–87—who laid out estates for his mill workers at Copley Hill (1847–65—com-plete with school, church, and library) and Akroydon (from c.1859—with one of Sir George Gilbert Scott's finest churches (All Souls, Haley Hill) ), both near Halifax, Yorks.), and Sir Titus Salt (1803–76—who believed that drink and lust were at the root of all problems among the lower orders—whose noble Saltaire, at Shipley, on the River Aire, was built 1851–76, and contained schools, bath-houses, almshouses, a hospital, and a club), demonstrated what could be done to improve the lot of the workers. Akroyd's architect for his two developments were William Henry Cross-land (c. 1834–1909—a pupil of ‘Great’ Scott, who himself also contributed to the design of Akroydon) and Salt's architects were Lockwood & Mawson of Bradford. In France, J. -B. -A. Godin-Lemaire (1817–89), influenced by François-Marie-Charles Fourier (1772–1837) and, indirectly, by Owen, built his Familistère (1859–77), or workmen's home, attached to his iron-foundry at Guise, not far from St-Quentin. Influenced by the writings of Henry Roberts, the Cité Ouvrière at Mulhouse, Haut-Rhin, France (1852–97), was built under the aegis of the Société Industrielle de Mulhouse (of which the leading light was Jean Dollfus (1800–87) ) to designs by Émile Muller. In Germany, the industrialist Alfred Krupp (1812–87—known as the ‘Cannon King’) built housing, co-operative stores, schools, infirmaries, etc., on a large scale for his workers in Essen from the 1870s. In England, George Cadbury (1839–1922) founded his workers' settlement at Bournville, near Birmingham, in 1879 (but much of the development was designed by William Alexander Harvey (1874–1951) and Henry Bedford Tylor (1871–1915) ), and another chocolate magnate, Joseph Rowntree (1836–1925), created the model village of New Earswick, near York (from 1901, to designs by Parker & Unwin). Port Sunlight, Ches., begun 1888, was laid out for the soap-manufacturer William Hesketh Lever (1851–1925—later (1922) Viscount Leverhulme), who planned the general layout himself, later amended by Owen and Lomax-Simpson; the very fine housing was by several architects, including William and Segar Owen, Douglas & J. P. Fordham (1843–99), Grayson & Ould, and others, including Lomax-Simpson and C. H. Reilly. S. S. Beman designed Pullman, the Company town outside Chicago, IL (1880–95), for the railway magnate: N. F. Barrett designed the layout. Near Brno (Brünn), in what was then Austria-Hungary, Kotěra designed the industrial town of Zlín (later in Czechoslovakia) for the Bat'a concern: it was influenced by the ideas of Ebenezer Howard. Later, Zlín's architecture was informed by the skeletal frames evolved in Chicago, IL: the main architectural protagonists were Fran-tišek Lydie Gahura (1891–1958—from 1927) and Karfík (from 1930), who employed the International Modern style. In Finland Aalto designed (1937) residential areas and an industrial complex for the cellulose industry, Sunila, near Kotka.


Subjects: Architecture.

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