The factory in a garden

A history of corporate landscapes from the industrial to the digital age

By Helena Chance

The factory in a garden


  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-1-7849-9300-9
  • Pages: 280
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £80.00
  • Published Date: February 2017
  • BIC Category: Industrialisation & industrial history, Gardens (descriptions, history etc), BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Corporate & Business History, ARCHITECTURE / Landscape, History, Architectural Structure & Design, History of specific companies / corporate history, Landscape art & architecture, Humanities / Industrialisation & industrial history, History of specific companies / corporate history, Gardens (Descriptions, History Etc)
  • Series: Studies in Design and Material Culture


When we think about Victorian factories, 'Dark Satanic Mills' might spring to mind - images of blackened buildings and exhausted, exploited workers struggling in unhealthy and ungodly conditions. But for some employees this image was far from the truth, and this is the subject of 'The Factory in a Garden' which traces the history of a factory gardens movement from its late-eighteenth century beginnings in Britain to its twenty-first century equivalent in Google's vegetable gardens at their headquarters in California. The book is the first study of its kind examining the development of parks, gardens, and outdoor leisure facilities for factories in Britain and America as a model for the reshaping of the corporate environment in the twenty-first century. This is also the first book to give a comprehensive account of the contribution of gardens, gardening and recreation to the history of responsible capitalism and ethical working practices.


'These gardens have not been much studied, so that Helena Chance's The Factory in a Garden: a History of Corporate Landscapes from the Industrial to the Digital Age comes as a welcome addition to the garden library. Chance covers the period from Robert Owen in the early 19th century to the carefully designed office gardens of today but she majors on two sites: Bournville, the landscape and village surrounding the Cadbury chocolate factory near Birmingham in the UK, and the National Cash Register Company's complex in Dayton, Ohio. This is a formidable work of scholarship.'
Richard Mawrey, Historic Gardens Review, No 44

'For those who studygarden and labor history, The Factory in a Garden is an interestingbook. By documenting the history of these spaces and theorizing about theirbenefits and the intentions of their creators, Chance has written a wonderfulwork that will be referenced by garden history and labor history scholars foryears to come.'
Esther Jackson, NYBGPlant talk

'The Factory in a Garden draws from multidisciplinary sources, is comprehensively referenced and well illustrated by many archival images. The author also devotes a chapter to the use of garden images in lantern slides, photographs and promotional films, providing a unique visual glimpse of the development of the corporate image. Comparisons between corporate landscapes in Britain and the United States are the focus of this book, and although Bournville may be well known to many, some of the American companies selected for study, such as Shredded Wheat and Heinz, are household names in the UK and will undoubtedly be of interest to a British readership. [.] In recent years there has been an increasingly important debate on the health and well-being of society. Much of this has focused on designing and managing green spaces, landscape and the wider environment for the benefit of the family and community. Helena Chance's publication will contribute to this expanding body of literature by its focus on the benefits of green space in the workplace.'
Barbara Simms, Garden History, Vol. 46, No. 1 (Summer 2018)

'The factory in a garden presents a history of corporate gardens and designed landscapes in the United Kingdom and USA from the early Industrial Revolution to the heyday of the factory garden in the years running up to World War II [.]The central theme is the relationship between two productive spaces: landscape designed for pleasure and leisure and industrial sites for work and economic output. The book traces the history of such landscapes from the 18th century rurally-located mills of the UK, through planned industrial communities such as Saltaire, to the leafy campuses of tech businesses in Silicon Valley.'
Robin Thornes, Transactions of the Ancient Monuments Society, Volume 63 (2019)


1. 'The pleasant manufactory'
2. From model factory to modern factory
3. 'The Factory in a Garden'/'The Garden in a Factory'
4. 'Happy healthy workers are the world's best': factory landscapes, leisure and the model employee
5. Designing the company Arcadia
6. 'The Most Beautiful Factory in the World': the power of the garden image
7. Factory gardens and parks: profits or perks?
8. From factory gardens to 'connected gardens'
Select gazetteer: company gardens and parks, c.1750-c.1960 and offices and office parks with significant landscaping, 1970-2015


Helena Chance is Reader in History and Theory of Design at Buckinghamshire New University

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