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Colonel Light Gardens, Goodwood Rd, Colonel Light Gardens, SA, Australia

Photographs None
List Register of the National Estate (Non-statutory archive)
Class Historic
Legal Status Registered (26/10/1999)
Place ID 19429
Place File No 3/03/005/0001
Statement of Significance
The Suburb of Colonel Light Gardens is historically highly significant for having been conceived from ideals espoused by the Garden City movement early in the twentieth century. This town planning philosophy developed in Britain and the United States and came to Australia where it was a force in the design of the National Capital as well as suburban developments elsewhere. The Garden City movement, so well represented by Colonel Light Gardens, has left a distinctive imprint on the Australian urban landscape. Additionally the suburb contains the major manifestation of the Thousand Homes Scheme of the 1920s which represented a major post-Great War housing project (Criterion A.4) (Historic Themes: 4.1: Planning urban settlement). The suburb was designed by Charles Reade, a nationally significant exponent of Garden City principles during the period. He was South Australia's first officially appointed town planner and played a major role in disseminating the movement's message (Criterion H.1). Colonel Light Gardens is an excellent example of a garden suburb. Its features include the use of low density housing, extensive planting, alternatives to grid street-planning, abundant parkland, streets designed to influence traffic volumes and zoning to control commercial development. Additionally the suburb contains many good examples of houses built in California Bungalow style and examples of inter war Old English houses (Criterion D.2). The suburb's homogenous built environment, its open spaces and plantings, its street design and other features all create substantial aesthetic amenity (Criterion E.1).

Colonel Light Gardens is highly valued by the local comunity as well as professionals and academics with an interest in garden city planning. This is demonstrated through the large amount of interest shown by local residents and resident groups and the large number of studies focusing on the Gardens (Criterion G.1).
Official Values Not Available
Colonel Light Gardens is particularly distinctive in relation to some surrounding suburbs by virtue of garden suburb layout features including wide grass verges, extensive tree-lining of streets, curvilinear and radiating street patterns in addition to the more common grid plan, rounded street corners, streets deliberately ranging from broad to narrow, parklands and reserves (including a number of small neighbourhood parks located behind houses) and the utility ways which have taken some (though not all) of the power lines away from street frontages. The housing in the suburb, which is by and large homogenous in its styling, can be divided by period. During the first period of construction 1921-24, the California Bungalow was the inspiration behind the houses built. Characterised by low, overhanging gable roofs, the houses have heavy verandah piers, are asymmetric and have a horizontal emphasis. There is often sandstone to the front and brick elsewhere and the galvanised roofs continue over the verandahs and feature exposed rafters. The gables are either stone, stuccoed, or are half timbered. Windows are double-hung sashes. Houses built privately and for the Thousand Homes Scheme during 1924-27 are also derivatives of the California Bungalow style. Being cheaper than some of the earlier period homes the Thousand Homes are sometimes simpler. Mostly red brick, they possess little decoration to external walls. Gables are usually half timbered, with roughcast infill and windows are casements. The last period, from 1928 to the 1950s, consists of small numbers of privately built houses designed in a Tudor Revival or inter war Old English style. These homes feature half timbering to gables and the roofs are high pointed and thus have a steeper pitch than the suburb's earlier houses. Front walls are sandstone, rendered brick or face brick and roofs are iron although some are tiled. Windows are double-hung sashes. Verandahs are not as prominent as in the Bungalow style and are often supported on simple Tuscan columns. Piccadilly Circus, Eton Street and Salisbury Crescent have examples of Austerity style homes. Commercial areas were zoned in accordance with garden suburb ideals and so corner stores are not to be found. Two groups of shops were built, one in Salisbury Crescent, and the other in The Strand. They both contain shops which serve as retail outlets. Residents used existing shops on Goodwood Road. The style of building is generally simple, with a parapeted facade and an awning. The cinema on Goodwood Road (now shops) has a more detailed facade, with projections around the upper windows and a heavy bracketed cornice or projection below the parapet. Reade planned so that churches should be dominant architectural features. A range of churches are present, many built in more recent decades to replace buildings erected in the 1920s. The oldest (closed as a church and now used as a childcare centre) dates from 1925 and is brick with a gabled roof and a square porch. Various halls have been built since the days when the first hall was the old Grange Farmhouse. The Institute Hall (built on the farmhouse site) for some decades from 1940 housed the Garden Suburb Commissioner's office and has historical significance. Perhaps the most distinctive hall architecturally is the 1929-30 Rechabite Hall (now RSL) . It is classically inspired and has a parapeted and rusticated facade on a gabled hall built of brick with painted concrete lintels. The former police station(now an office) is red brick. An infants school and a primary school were erected in 1926 and 1927 respectively; the primary is double storey, rendered brick with a portico supported on square columns. Windows feature multi-paned upper sashes. St Therese school/church was built in the south west corner of the suburb in 1925. The original building has been replaced by a separate school and church. Major parks in the suburb are Mortlock Park Reserve and Reade Park Reserve. Each has various sports facilities and grounds. Other parks in the area include the Ludgate and Oxford Circuses which contain grass and an informal arrangement of trees. Thirdly there are the internal reserves behind houses. The suburb's parks, verges, plantings, street design, houses and house setbacks create a series of varied and pleasant spaces and vistas which contribute to the suburb's aesthetic quality.
Colonel Light Gardens was born as a result of a move to improve town planning principles by adopting the Garden City philosophy. This movement, seen in Britain and the United States at the turn of the century and led by people like Ebenezer Howard in England, was a reaction to the problems created by the industrialisation of cities. The poor living conditions seen in many inner city areas was seen as an evil. By bettering the urban environment in which people lived the very fabric of society itself would be improved. Garden City ideals came to Australia in turn. Walter Burley Griffin's design for Canberra was influenced by the philosophy, as were suburban developments elsewhere. The major figure in disseminating Garden City ideas in Australia was Charles Compton Reade. A New Zealander born in 1880, Reade saw the evils of inner city slums in England and began writing of the need for improved town planning and was active in the Garden Cities and Town Planning Association of Great Britain. In 1914-15 he led a lecture tour through five Australian States. South Australia appointed Reade as its first official Town Planner in 1916 and he retained the position until 1920. In 1917 he drew up plans for an Adelaide garden suburb, initially to be called Mitcham Garden Suburb. Reade convened Australia's first two town planning and housing conferences. He also twice tried to get town planning legislation through the State legislature: on the first occasion it was defeated by the property-oriented upper House and on the second was passed but was heavily amended by the House. Perhaps the frustrations of battling vested property interests resistant to change were responsible for him leaving Australia for overseas planning positions. Sadly, after working successfully in Malaya and Rhodesia, he committed suicide in South Africa in 1933. In April 1921, the proposed suburb was renamed Colonel Light Gardens in honour of the designer of Adelaide. The first land sales were advertised in August 1921. The site, originally farming land, had been used as an army camp during World War One. Reade's plans for the suburb incorporated major tenets of the Garden City philosophy. These included low density housing that was socially mixed, heavy plantings, numerous parks and reserves, curvilinear and radial streets (as opposed to the traditional grid plan), utility ways to remove power lines and other services from street frontages, a hierarchy of street widths so that large traffic volumes were dissuaded from using smaller residential thoroughfares and designated commercial areas. Initial purchase of blocks was slow, though it did accelerate. In 1924, owing to a housing shortage in the State, the South Australian Government inaugurated the Thousand Homes Scheme to provide housing, particularly for returned soldiers and their families and lower income groups. Colonel Light Gardens was selected as the site for most of this housing. South Australian Government town planner W S Griffiths (a follower of Reade) amended part of Reade's plan so that 363 houses could be fitted into the south of the suburb and a new area west of Goodwood Road was purchased and added to the suburb for 332 more. Griffiths had to increase Reade's housing density ratio and this meant forsaking design elements like reserves and utility ways etc. However the Thousand Homes Scheme did not, on the whole, have a largely negative impact on the garden suburb amenity and in fact it gave the suburb a social mix it may otherwise not have achieved. By the end of 1927 most of the suburb had been built, although pockets of construction continued into the 1950s. International visitors were brought to see the suburb during the 1920s. Over 1100 residences are located in the suburb. Colonel Light Gardens was administered by a Commissioner and was its own local government area until 1975 when it was amalgamated with Mitcham City Council. Over the years the suburb has developed a distinctive sense of place which is well recognised by many of the residents who, before amalgamation, campaigned successfully to have the suburb zoned as strictly residential.

Condition and Integrity
Apart from a few minor changes to control traffic, the street layout remains intact. The original street tree plantings have survived, although many are in decline.
The houses in general are in good condition. Some are in a state of disrepair, some have been renovated and extended sympathetically, while many remain in their original style and form. The grassed verges are mowed by Council, but otherwise are not maintained except where residents have assumed responsibility. Similarly, some of the utlity ways are maintained by residents while others have become overgrown and accumulate rubbish. Some of the utility ways provide alternative vehicular access to properties. In some cases power lines have been run along street frontages instead of along utility ways.

Alterations to internal reserves include a children's playground, tennis courts, bordered gardens and private extensions to adjoining properties. A reserve at the north west end of Kandahar Crescent has been developed with twenty retirement units. The former Garden Suburb Commissioner's depot has been redeveloped with ten semi-detached dwellings.

On the whole, the integrity of the suburb is high. (1998)
About 158ha, comprising the entire suburb of Colonel Light Gardens.
Apperly, Richard et al, 1989, Identifying Australian Architecture. Angus and Robertson, Sydney.
The Hon H N Barwell: speech to the Second Australian Town Planning and Housing Conference, 1918.

Cheney, S.,1994,"Colonel Light Gardens A unique suburb in Adelaide: Law shapes the urban environment" Alternative Law Journal Vol 19 No 4, 1994, pp153-155.
Bechervaise and Associates with McDougall and Vines, 1989, Colonel Light Gardens Conservation Study. Colonel Light Gardens Residents Association, Adelaide.
Freestone, Robert, 1989, Model Communities - The Garden City Movement in
Australia. Nelson, Melbourne.
Garnaut, C, 1995, Of Passion, Publicity, and Planning: Charles Reade and the Mitcham Garden Suburb, in Australian Planner Vol 32, No 3 1995 pp 181- 189.
Garnaut, C, 1995, Remodelling a model: the Thousand Homes Scheme in Colonel Light Garden Suburb, in Journal of the Historical Society of South Australia, Vol 23, 1995, pp5-35.
Garnaut, C, 1996, Revealing Reminiscences: Charles Reade from his children's perspective, Planning History, Vol 18 No 1 pp 20-25.
Garnaut,C,1997, Model and Maker: Colonel Light Gardens and Charles Reade PhD Thesis University of South Australia.
Harper, B., 1991, Colonel Light Gardens - Seventy Years of a Garden Suburb, Australian Planner, June 1991.
Henry, F S, 1955, Colonel Light Gardens: a Study of the Garden Suburb in Adelaide S.A. M.A. Thesis Sydney University, 1955.
Hutchings, A and Bunker R (eds), 1986, With Conscious Purpose - A History of Town Planning in South Australia. Wakefield Press, Adelaide, 1986.
Lander, H. Clapham, 1913, Estate Development upon Garden City Lines, Garden Cities and Town Planning, pages 232-238, 1913.
Original Sales Brochure - Colonel Light Gardens.
Sandercock, Leonie, 1975, Cities for Sale: Property, Policies and Urban Planning in Australia. Melbourne 1975.
Judge Roder: PAT No. 322 of 1991, SA Planning Appeal Tribunal.
Sulman, John, 1921, An Introduction to the Study of Town Planning in Australia. NSW Government Printer, Sydney, 1921.
Tregenza, John, 1981, Charles Reade 1880-1933: Town Planning Missionary, Journal of the Historical Society of South Australia, No. 9, 1981.
Tregenza, John, 1989, Charles Compton Reade, in Serle, Geoffrey ed, Australian Dictionary of Biography, vol.11. Melbourne University Press, Melbourne.

Report Produced  Thu Oct 2 00:59:12 2014