T. J. Maslen
Suggestions for the Improvement of our Towns and Houses, (London: Smith, Elder and Co., 1843):154-56.
Suppose a town to be built on a plain, which rises with an easy ascent towards some eminence or picturesque hill a few miles distant: the streets straight and parallel, intersecting each other at right angles, and like those of Cape Town in South Africa, shaded on each side with a row of elm or oak trees, the houses in some streets built with vitrified brick of large size, in other streets with hewn stone, large and roomy, and substantially erected, with a piazza or verandah in front of them, under which the inhabitants could lounge during the evening and inhale the freshness of the breeze, and be sheltered during the day from the fervid rays of the sun. By means of hydraulic pipes, a plentiful supply of excellent water could be furnished to each house in every part of the town. The public edifices should be elegant and substantial buildings, standing in squares, and the squares and streets be wide and spacious, well laid out and kept extremely clean. At Stellenbosch, in the Cape Colony,; there are groves of large oak and magnificent camphor trees; so there might be in South Australia, if the settlers would but procure a few thousand saplings and plant them, as the climates and soil are similar in both countries. A town should have numerous and extensive well-planted gardens and orchards in every part, so that when viewed from a church-tower or neighbouring hill, the prospect would be charmingly picturesque, as it is at Uitenhage in South Africa; moreover, each garden should have a tall kiosk or minareted summer-house, where the females of the family might frequently enjoy their needle-work in rural retirement and delight. When a town is situated near a river, the gardens and orchards could be fertilized by small channels made with clay or brick and cement (twelve inches wide by fifteen inches deep, as in Bengal and at Madras), leading the water from the upper parts of the river or lake. At Graham's Town a small river flows through the main street, performing the part of the Indian canals in watering the orchards and gardens with which that town is intersected. Wherever there are hanging woods or any beautiful and romantic feature in the scenery, the inhabitants should invariably and immediately petition the local government, that such woods might be preserved for ever, and never be cut down: such is the superb and beautiful scenery at Somerset in South Africa. Each house might have an allotment of ground at some distance from the town, of several acres, to be laid out in vineyards, and divided by aloes, quince, lemon, and pomegranate hedges, as at Graaf Reinet. The streets at this latter place are planted with rows of standard lemon and orange trees, which thrive luxuriantly, and give to the town a fresh and pleasing appearance; and so might the Australian towns have their rows of lemon and orange trees, watered by numerous small channels and canals from the nearest river, reservoir, or bowery, or well, each inhabitant receiving his due portion of the vivifying stream at a regular hour, exactly as they do at Graaf Reinet from the Sunday river. The banks of the Gariep river, in Africa, are lined with fine willow trees, bending gracefully over the stream, and I should think that this useful tree would thrive as well in Australia....
In planning and laying out new towns, the engineer would be well acquainted with the climate of the locality, and know the quarter of the compass from whence the most prevailing or most healthy winds blow; and in the direction of such winds the principal, or main streets should be traced, so that they might be enfiladed by those winds; these main streets should not be of a less width than thirty yards; and they should be planted with standard mulberry trees on each side, when of greater width. The cross streets should intersect the principal ones at right angles, at such distance from each other as to make all and each of the sections of the town a quarter of a mile square, or 450 yards. These cross streets should not be of a less width than twenty-six yards.
Every house ought to have a backyard or court, and every street should have a verandah on each side, in front of the houses, and of the same width as the footpaths, say eight, ten, or twelve feet wide, proportional to the width of the street.
The enjoyment of a verandah is well known in India,and other sunny climates, and would be equally felt in Australia, especially during the mid-day sun of summer, or the torrent of the rainy season; it is also a very agreeable adjunct to a house in England, as those persons can testify who have one.
All churches and places of worship should stand by themselves in the centre, or on one side of handsome open squares, not joined to any other building, but accessible all round; and should not have burial grounds near them, as the latter, in course of years, and at particular seasons, are known to create an unhealthy state of the atmosphere. Open situations for churches afford an agreeable display of their architecture; but they should not be built in the middle of a street. Burial grounds or cemeteries should be situated at the outer angles of towns upon dry and slightly rising ground, if procurable, and if conducted on the plan of the newly erected public cemeteries, would be a great and universal convenience.
All the entrances to every town should be through a park, that is to say, a belt of park of about half a mile in width, should entirely surround every town, excepting such parts or sides as are washed by a river or lake. This would greatly contribute to the health and pleasure of the inhabitants; it would render the surrounding prospects beautiful, and give a magnificent appearance to a town, from whatever quarter viewed.
Long, straight avenues of trees should be excluded from the park, as only tending to obstruct the prospect at various points; the only avenue of trees necessary for equestrians and carriages, should be round the outer circumferential boundary of the park, and of course extending entirely round the park and towns. Beyond the park, the villas, country houses, and gardens might begin, and most distantly the farms.
The land of a newly settled country being Government property, there cannot be that objection to the adoption of a regular system for the plans of towns and buildings that there is in an old country; neither can the execution of a system adopted at the beginning be attended with inconvenience to the public, or be complained of as a grievance by private individuals,; which is the case sometimes with modern improvements. It is wise to adopt a system, and when adopted it should be made law, and after it had been enforced a few years it would become custom. .