Founded in 1955 by Athelstan Whaley, the Renway Construction Company produced a small number of housing developments in the South East of England driven by a passion for quality of construction, innovative design and customer satisfaction. A small, family owned business, it created around 30 homes per year over its 40 year span, remaining little-known and tucked under the radar of mid-century appreciation.

Chalet-type houses on Edgcumbe Park

‘Edgcumbe Park’, where each season is more delightful than the last, combined with the best of Modern Home Building, is rapidly becoming THE place to live West of London. Every house, every site and winding cul-de-sac is imaginatively planned by our Architectural Staff preserving the Oaks and the Mountain Ash, the Scots Pine and Sycamore, ensuring good orientation and pleasant views. Planning in the RENWAY manner guarantees you security of your investment.

Extract from original selling brochure, c.1962

Renway’s flagship development was Edgcumbe Park, commenced in 1958 and completed in 1970 on a sylvan site originally part of Windsor Great Park. Rather than bulldoze the land clear, Renway planned their development of 360 houses, chalets and bungalows, and 54 apartments around the keystone oak, pine, mountain ash and silver birch specimens in this 80 acre site to create a communal environment with minimum sacrifice of trees.  The highways meander purposefully yet unhurriedly between trees and houses and the development gave a standard of landscaping far ahead of its time and hard to match even with today’s environmental sensitivities.

Careful attention was paid to the properties’ aspects and orientation along with the choice of external materials to best suit the landscape, give good views, maximise natural daylight and to blend with the environment. All properties were bestowed with generous plots and sweeping frontages (generally between 60–100’) open plan to the roadway to sow the seeds for a close-knit community of “good neighbours”.


Life is more satisfying creating an enjoyable way of life, designing, building, and selling attractive, modern homes in lovely surroundings to pleasant people — moreso than mass-producing homes for people we never see.

Athelstan Whaley,
Director, Renway Construction Company

Whaley brought new and exciting architectural influences to the planning of Edgcumbe Park from his study tours to Scandinavia, Canada and California and his deep interest in the leading American architects of the time. Working alongside his principal architect and designer, Thomas Hart, peak-roofed Chalets and streamlined Ranch-style bungalows featured among the estate’s 27 house-types, each designed to coexist with its environment in form — and finish, with widespread use of hardwood cladding.

Stateside influences were also seen indoors with American style ‘rumpus’ rooms and en-suite shower rooms. Renway were in fact one of the very first homebuilders in the UK to include innovations such as dry-lining (rather that wet plastering), central heating, double-glazing, loft insulation, fitted kitchens, integrated wardrobes, even offering purchasers a choice of wallpapering throughout. Such was their vision, they even included carports as well as garages to prevent cars being parked untidily on the roads or on their landscaped frontages, with Covenants scribed to help preserve this and other aspects of the development for generations to come.

Athelstan Whaley receives the Civic Trust Award, 1969 for his work at Edgcumbe Park

Athelstan Whaley receives the Civic Trust Award, 1969 for his work at Edgcumbe Park

This scheme is one man’s attempt to provide well-designed new houses in a densely-treed setting of some 80 acres, in such a way as to create a communal environment, with minimal sacrifice of trees.

Civic Trust Award commendation, 1968

Renway’s attention to detail was recognised in a number of awards for its design, landscaping and construction including ‘Ideal Home’ and ‘New Home Of The Year’ competitions, a Civic Trust Award and features in publications at the time. Most famously, the futuristic look and feel of the development was the key draw for film director François Truffaut when looking for the homes of the future for his 1966 adaptation of ‘Fahrenheit 451′, giving the Renway Type 60 bungalow top billing as the hero Montag’s home.

Whilst similar in community approach to Eric Lyons’ smaller SPAN townhouse developments of the period, Renway wanted to offer a fuller range of property styles and designs to cater for all comers, first time buyer through to company executive. Whilst focused on fostering a community of good neighbours, Renway’s approach offered more space: each house being detached (or linked via shared garages and driveways).

These properties were never intended to be affordable luxury for the masses, they were priced at a premium: houses from £7,500 to £11,000, garden flats at £4,750 — and many thought these expensive futuristic homes wouldn’t sell. But sell they did.


Renway Advert from ‘The Homefinder’ (March 1962)

Demand was widespread, but local too: constructed in the golden age of air travel and just 20 miles from Heathrow Airport, the estate found favour among BOAC, BEA and Pan Am air crews of the time — some of whom still reside here.

Edgcumbe Park’s continuing draw, unique situation and lasting appeal have ensured its properties still command a premium, indeed also through their scant availability: only a small number come to the market each year.

Renway’s reluctance to compromise on its ideals of space and environmental integration effectively sealed the company’s fate: land simply became too expensive to keep their vision viable. Sadly in 2002 they decided to ‘call it a day’, closing their head office which was still, at the time, proudly sited at the entrance to Edgcumbe Park.

A rare oasis of tranquillity, space and mid-century design in the UK, Edgcumbe Park continues to feel as modern today as it did 50 years ago. It is unlikely that any new housing development will come close to achieving the successes seen here: the unique combination of architecture, setting, and overarching design was vision-led and uncompromising. And although the Edgcumbe Park Preservation Association (EPPA) has been in place since the early days of the estate keeping a watchful eye on proposals for change, Edgcumbe Park arguably deserves more formal recognition as a significant example of mid-century British homebuilding at its best.