404 Hampstead Garden Suburb Virtual Museum : Local Organisation : HGS Residents Association [RA]
HGS Residents Association

The Hampstead Garden Suburb Residents Association (known as “the RA”) exists to promote the interests of residents and maintain the character of the Suburb, as well as to encourage good neighbourliness and community enjoyment and co-ordinate the activities of Suburb societies. The RA’s membership is currently over 1800 households.

These are some of the things it does:

  • Organise community events such as a party and fireworks on New Year’s eve.

    RA Fireworks New Year 2017RA Fun Day 2017
  • Lobby the London Borough of Barnet and the Hampstead Garden Suburb Trust on planning issues and other matters. For example in 2015 the RA, together with the Trust, successfully opposed a planning application to put antennae by the spire of St Jude’s church. In 2014 the RA funded the Northway Gardens playground in partnership with Barnet and a group of users. The RA is in regular communication with Barnet about the street scene: identifying broken benches, missing trees and inappropriate signage.

  • Hold open meetings on topical issues eg hustings before General and Local Elections and meetings on issues such as road safety and the construction of basements. Councillors, council officers and the Police attend when asked.

    Falloden Way accident 2017Hutings 2015
  • Publish Suburb News quarterly and a Directory annually.
  • Award grants towards Suburb projects, such as the rebuilding of Fellowship House in 2015 (substantially financed by a bequest from Eileen Whelan, a former RA chairman) and the replanting of the flower beds in Central Square in 2017 (in partnership with the Trust and Barnet).

1907 - 1910

One of the RA’s objects is “to maintain as far as possible the ideals of Dame Henrietta Barnett and the other founders”. In her article in the Contemporary Review in February 1905 setting out her vision for the Garden Suburb, Henrietta Barnett was silent on how it was to be managed. The original Hampstead Garden Suburb Trust was formed in March 1906 to build the estate and manage it. After construction began in 1907, none of its distinguished Board of Directors became residents: the Suburb was governed by outsiders, firmly guided by Mrs Barnett as manager. For the first couple of years, residents were content to belong to social organisations and tend their gardens, but tensions began to appear. In 1909 a Garden Suburb Ratepayers Association was formed (“against Mrs Barnett” wrote Edwin Lutyens in a letter to his wife) and in 1910 a Provisional Committee for a Residents Association was set up.

Established 1911

The Provisional Committee’s approach to the Trust was rebuffed - ostensibly because with only a third of houses built it was too soon to be representative - but residents were not deterred and the Hampstead Garden Suburb Residents Association was established in October 1911. Mrs Barnett strongly disapproved, writing in November that the Trust did not want the inhabitants to feel bound to communicate through an Association. But within a year it had 1,115 members. Its independence allowed it to criticise the Trust and the local authorities, which it continues to do. Over the years it has been involved in many campaigns, including (unsuccessful) opposition to the construction of trunk road through the Suburb in 1924.

Traffic issues are still a major part of the RA’s work, and currently (2017), after holding an open meeting to consult residents, it is in discussion with Transport for London about speeding on Falloden Way and improving pedestrian safety at the junction of Ossulton Way and Kingsley Way with the A1 at the Market Place.

In 1982 when the New HGS Trust applied to amend the Scheme of Management to allow an increase in the management charge (originally fixed at £2 per annum) the RA gave its support on condition that a joint working group was set up, which led to the restructuring of the Trust.

RA's public celebration of Suburb's Centenary

In 2007 the RA organised the celebrations to mark the Suburb's Centenary and continues to organise social events for residents alongside its campaigning activities.

The objectives of the RA can be seen in its Constitution . Its governing council is normally over 20 in number (one-third being elected each year), plus its chairman and three other officers who are all elected annually. The council meets 8 to 10 times a year, taking questions from residents at the beginning of its meetings. It operates through a number of committees dealing with matters such as conservation and amenities, trees and open spaces and roads and traffic.

A portal on www.hgs.org.uk (at the top menu bar on that site’s home page) leads to further information about the RA and its current activities.

HGS Residents Association
Additional Info
Website: www.hgs.org.uk/ra
Related Collections
Suburb News edition 127 front page
Suburb News is a Quarterly Newspaper published by the HGS Residents Association, commenting on the goings on within the Suburb. 

Residents Association Constitution 1984
This collection shows the changing nature of the Residents Association through different constitutions over the years in three different decades. 

Northwest - There is Nothin' Like a Dame
This collection documents the articles written in and about the Suburb, ranging from resident produced publications such as Suburb News, to local papers such as the Ham and High and national perodicals like The Lady.