Many architects are associated with the London suburbs of Metro-Land. Charles Holden and his tube stations, Ernest Trobridge with his Swedenborgian homes, Curtis and Burchett with their Dudok influenced schools. But one partnership who probably did the most to shape the visual identity of the outreaches of interwar North London were Welch, Lander and Day. The partnership designed much of the “Suntrap” estates that stretch from Greenford in the West to Enfield in the North-West, plus a variety of other buildings in this broad area.
The partnership was made up of three quite different architects; Herbert Welch, Felix Lander and Nugent Francis Cachemaille-Day. Welch was the elder to the trio, born in 1884. He started his career as one of Raymond Unwin’s assistants working on Hampstead Garden Suburb, and helped design a number of houses in the suburb in partnership with A.C. Hollis. One of Welch’s other notable early designs is the Arts and Crafts style Hendon Fire Station (1912). Welch went on to form a later partnership with Frederick Etchells, and they designed the Crawford Advertising office in High Holborn (1930), considered one of the first Modern Movement buildings in Britain. He joined Lander and Cachemaille-Day, who already were in partnership, in 1930.
Felix Lander also started out as an assistant to Raymond Unwin, but on his work with Barry Parker in Letchworth Garden City. After also working on the planning and design of Welwyn Garden City, Lander went to work for Adams, Holden and Pearson, and Charles Holden’s influence can be seen at Lander and Welch’s Park Royal tube station on the Piccadilly Line western extension (1935). Nugent Francis Cachemaille-Day was born in 1896 in South Woodford, Essex and is best known today for his church designs between 1930-55, these designs vary from traditional to moderne to proto-brutalist. Like Welch and Lander he cut his teeth in the Garden Cities, working for Louis de Soissons in Welwyn Garden City, where he met Lander. They went into partnership together, before joining up with Welch.
Despite the varied styles and experience of the trio, the partnership is most remembered for their houses. Although first popularised by the developers Morrell's, Welch, Lander and Day made the Sun Trap styled house ubiquitous throughout North London suburbia. This design incorporated Art Deco details within the traditional terraced house. These details include streamlined metal framed windows (the sun trap), patterned tiling, stained glass windows and sunken doorways. Some of their designs featured flat roofs, but most had traditional pitched ones. Early examples of this style was the partnerships work at Old Rectory Gardens in Edgware (1934) and Kingsley Close in Hampstead (1934). This design was copied and reproduced throughout the suburban expanses of London, by Welch, Lander and Day, and many other architects.
The Sun Trap home wasn't the only style of home the partnership produced, as houses in different areas of Metro-Land for the Haymills company show. The Middlesex village of Wembley was one of the first to be engulfed by the suburban sprawl accompanying the Metropolitan Railways expansion. By the 1930's it was home to 50,000 people, many middle class or with aspirations to be so. Welch, Lander and Day designed Lawn Court Flats (1933) and houses on Mayfields and The Avenue (1934), as well as 4 squat flat roofed brick houses in Barn Rise (1932). The houses in Mayfields and The Avenue are a prime example of the interwar International Style modernism, with white rendered walls and flat roofs with sun decks. This style also appears on the Hanger Hill estate in Ealing built in 1935 behind Park Royal tube station and the Hotel and Garage, both by Welch and Lander. Here the houses don't have the white render as at Wembley, but proudly show their brickwork. The firm also designed flats just behind the station, the crescent shaped Hanger Court (1935).
The partnership produced a more moderne styled detached house in Mill Ridge and Penshurst Gardens in Edgware, where the square edges of the Wembley houses have been curved and softened. Further east in Hendon, the partnership designed a number of houses that progressed their style from the earlier designs. These houses in Ashley Lane (1935) use the early International Style designs of Wembley and the brick details of Hanger Hill to produce a robust yet refined design that progresses from their earlier buildings. Unfortunately some have been demolished, while others have been redeveloped.
The trio did not stay in partnership for long, with Cachemaille-Day leaving to return to the church design work for which he is best remembered for. In the first 5 years after leaving the partnership in 1935, Cachemaille-Day produced a number of interesting church designs. St. Pauls Parish Church in South Harrow (1937) is a proto-brutalist concrete block, quite a odds with the tranquil suburban street it lies in. Two churches in the north west of England are among his most celebrated. The Church of St. Michael and All Angels in Horseden (1937) was called "a sensational church of its country and it's day" by Nikolaus Pevsner and is Grade II* listed. His Church of the Epiphany in Leeds (1938) is Grade I listed and was designed to serve the estate of Gipton, one of the first garden estates in the north of England. In the post war years Cachemaille-Day designed a number of churches in the inner city London area, replacing buildings destroyed in the Blitz, such as St Michael and All Angels, London Fields (1960) and St Paul, West Hackney (1962). Cachemaille-Day died in 1976.
Welch and Lander continued in partnership producing a range of projects from 1935 until well into the post war period. These included churches like Hendon Methodist (1937) and St. Martins, East Barnet (1938), as well as shops (Edgware 1937 and Hampstead 1939), factories (Watford 1956) and youth clubs (St Albans 1966), with Felix’s son Sean continuing the company after the death of Welch in 1956 and his father in 1960.
Although the trio of architects were not in partnership for long, they changed the face of the suburbs, in North London in particular. Their Suntrap house provided a stylish, modern, functional house for thousands and still does today, even as tastes move on. Their other projects, ranging from churches to tube stations to shops created the suburban fabric to knot these ribbon developments together and provide a new living space for people looking to move out of the city. They are perhaps better known today for their projects as individuals or duos, but as a threesome they bought their contrasting styles to produce a house for metro-land.