Jarvis houses of the 1930s on the West Common Estate, photographed by Jim Jarvis as they were built

Scanned from glass negatives and prints

The houses of the Art Deco era which covers the period between the two world wars fall into two schools. Those designed by architects who essentially reworked traditional styles and the pioneering Modernists who favoured plain functional designs. The houses built by Jarvis Brothers at West Common were mainly in traditional styles but interspersed with a few Modernist homes. The architects incorporated details ranging from massive beams and leaded windows to decorative brickwork and jettied upper storeys. We believe that many were designed by the same architect*, which is why they are similar.

These houses were built to attract buyers to country living by reflecting Tudor times when Britain was great and huge wooden ships dominated the seas. A close look reveals that the leaded windows are much larger than 16th century ones would have been and many of the timbers are not load bearing but tacked on. The modernist homes had plain smooth walls with large windows to allow plenty of light in. Some had corner windows to catch the last vestiges of the sun and flat roofs for sunbathing.

Most of the houses have been extended. Some are up to three times the original size but the original building can still be discerned especially with the aid of this series of photographs taken in the late Thirties.

* We hope that records of dates of building and architects have survived in the records of Jarvis Homes.


Jean walked miles around Harpenden, seeking to identify as many as possible of the houses photographed by Jim Jarvis in the 1930s. Glass negatives of these photos were passed to the Society’s archives following Jim’s death, and were photographed and converted into positive images.

Houses at other locations are shown in a separate gallery, along with houses as yet unidentified. We hope that visitors to this page will help locate these houses.


Note on first occupants of the photographed houses, as listed in Kelly’s Directories – house names were mainly replaced by numbers in the 1938 directory.

Some houses changed hands quickly, and may initially have been rented.

1932: West Common Way One Ash (no.2 ) – Niels A C Salveson; Ranworth (no.4) – George E Vaughan; Ravenswood (no.6) – Col. Alex. Hogg; Alrewas (no.8) – H Bellfield; Acaulis (no.9) – C H Sands; Copinshay (no. 7) – Harry Walthew.

1934: West Common Way One Ash (no.2) – Arnold Manns; no change at nos.4, 6 and 8; Shalford Lodge (no.10) – Frank Oldham; Chadwick (no.12) – Eustace Fuller; Yealm (no.1) – Roland Brock; no.5 – Edwin Collins; no change at nos.7 and 9. West Common Close: Rev Arthur A Sharp (no name or number); Greenloaming – Niels A C Salveson.

1935-36: West Common Way One Ash (no.2) – John F C Heather; no change at nos.4,6,8,10 or 12; Thurlstone (no.14) – Norman H Smith.  No change at nos.1,5,7 or 9; Holmesdale (no.11) – Frank T Porter; Strathearn (no.17) – Misses Cunningham; Haldon (no. 27) – Mrs B M Wren. West Common Close: no change. High Elms (not named or numbered – no.4) Miss D F Williams.

1938: West Common Way: no change at nos.2 and 6-14; Ranworth (no.4) – Pollock A Robertson; no.16 – George S Hussey; no.20 – Ronald G Streeton; no.26 – Charles V Midgley; no.28 – Ralph Phillips; no change at nos.1,5,7,9,11, 17 and 27; no.23 – Robert M Tufnell; no.29 – Duncan J Graham; no.31 – Cecil Campion; no.33 – Rev. Hugh Selwyn Fry. West Common Close: Greenloaming – G C Hough. High Elms – no change. Oakfield Road: Grey Garth (no.2 – Douglas H Jackson); Wingates (no.9) – Albert K Wilbersham; Westwood (no.10) – Miss Gertrude Stuart.

1941-2: Dellcroft: Denholm (no.4) Mrs C M Burnet.

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