The houses built by Herbert Collins, a local builder, in Southampton during the 1920s and 1930s are instantly recognisable and highly desirable. The majority demonstrate a simple Georgian style in a landscaped setting consisting of greens and avenues of trees.
His work is internationally recognised and at the time of the construction of his estates, articles about his unique work appeared in architectural journals in Britain and across Europe. Much of local authority post war housing was influenced by Collins’ work .
Collins played an important part in the development of the Garden City movement particularly Welwyn Garden City which inspired him to set up his own Garden City Movement. Sadly today Herbert’s work is virtually unknown outside of Southampton.
Herbert was born in North London in 1885 the son of W J Collins who was a speculative builder and shrewd business man. Although a qualified architect Herbert was also a skilled tradesman with qualifications in carpentry and brickwork. Herbert’s father ensured that he learned his trade working from the bottom up through the family business. In 1911 Herbert’s father and family moved to Southampton and Herbert who was a keen sailor followed about ten years later.
Herbert saw the potential for the development of a Garden City on the west side of Southampton around the village of Marchwood. This did not materialise but Herbert was able to use his unique design skills to develop what is known as the Uplands Estate at Highfield and further estates at Swaythling and Bassett Green. Examples of his work both private and social housing are also found across locations in Hampshire.
A feature of Collins houses is that their width exceeds their depth such that whichever way the house faces it receives sunshine at some time in the day.
Herbert took great interest in the estates he designed including the landscaping and the gardens. He was known to routinely walk around the estates checking that landscaping was unchanged and that people had maintained the landscaping of the gardens in their leasehold homes.
If you have not had the opportunity to explore a Collins Estate and to admire his architecture then this is a must for a pleasant stroll on a sunny day. The importance of Herbert Collins’s work to the city has been recognised in that all of his estates are now designated as conservation areas.
Herbert Collin’s houses are a joy to live in and engender a real sense of community amongst their residents many of whom describe living in a Collins house as very much like living in a country village.