The “model villages” of England

The term “model village” refers to a self-contained community built near factories back in the 1800’s and early 1900’s. England is home to many of them, at which Ian Brown at Google Sightseeing recently took a look.


The villages consisted of rather nice homes, along with schools, hospitals, stores, recreation and other amenities. The villages were built by factory owners and industrialists to house their workers near the work site, though physically separated from it.
While the villages were quite nice, some saw it as a way for the industrialists to simply maximize their profits:

Detractors counter this with the belief that industrialists were only looking to maximize profits, with happy workers generally being more productive. Improving their housing could therefore be seen as an essential contribution to increasing the success of the business. In some cases the creators of model villages were also looking to impose a significant amount of control over their employees, dictating what they could and couldn’t do in these new communities designed to strictly follow their own beliefs.

The villages themselves are amazing to view, and the combination of Google Earth and Street View allows for a great deal of sightseeing. I encourage you to read Ian’s full post on Google Sightseeing, and then grab their KML file to explore the locations yourself in Google Earth.

About Mickey Mellen

Mickey has been using Google Earth since it was released in 2005, and has created a variety of geo-related sites including Google Earth Hacks. He runs a web design firm in Marietta, GA, where he lives with his wife and two kids.


  1. The article in Google Sightseeing and the Tour are well worth visiting. Great use of aerial imagery and Streetview, and good for general interest and teaching.
    The article actually puts more emphasis on the planned social benefits of true ‘model villages’ than the GEB introduction, and the illustration in GEB is of untypical row or terrace housing, although there were/are lots of ‘company settlements’ of mean housing erected for example by colliery owners.
    The ‘villages’ in the article are in fact largely an urban feature, and there are hundreds of more rural ‘model’ villages in the UK built by landowners such as at Milton Abbas in Dorset and sometimes going back to the Middle Ages. But that’s another fascinating story in GE and Streetview,

  2. Ian Brown’s article also features Poundbury, a modern ‘model’ settlement imposed on the Dorset landscape in the UK, and he mentions some of the aesthetic and ecological criticisms it has generated. Unfortunately it’s feeble pastiche of past buildings has spawned thousands of even more degraded copies in contemporary housing developments in the UK – a parody of the ideal of a model village – unlike the well designed modern housing you can often see elsewhere in northern Europe as you wander around Streetview.

  3. samuel ola says:

    Ian’s article pratically great…his site was good for the mill workers…not too far from the industry as he wrote.. I just wish i will visit there..

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