A brief history extracted from 'Darlington Memories'
Alfred Banting Armstrong and William Bussey were both
working in the building trade when they decided to form
a partnership in 1902 and set up their own building business
Their first premises were at Hopetown, from where they
began building the first houses in Trafalgar Terrace using
imported timber and horse-drawn carts.
At the end of the 19th century and into the 20th, Mr Henry
Fell Pease, Liberal MP for the Cleveland Division, lived
in a fine Victorian mansion named Brinkburn. The lodge
for Brinkburn was in Woodland Road and the entire estate
is now covered with modern housing. The house stood on
ground which is now the yard occupied by Bussey & Armstrong
Help for the unemployed
In 1928 they were sufficiently well established to be able
to purchase a 25 acre site at Cockerton from the Darlington
Corporation. They planned to build a new garden suburb
of 300 houses, ensuring work for 120 employees for the
next three years.
The scheme was popular as it also provided additional
employment in trades supplying materials. The site was
near the then new chemical factory, bounded by Bates Avenue,
West Auckland Road, the LNER Barnard Castle branch line
and Stooperdale Avenue.
Mr A.B. Armstrong, then principal of the firm, was proud
of using local materials. "There is no other trade
that gets more of its materials from the local vicinity
than ours. I estimate that the 800 houses will necessitate
the use of over 5,000,000 bricks so that should mean steady
work at the brickworks."
The garden suburb scheme had been devised primarily to
provide accommodation when the chemical works opened. The
houses priced at £400, were throughly modern, semi-detached,
each with three bedrooms, living room, kitchen and scullery,
together with a garden plot. Even for the times, this was
a bargain price but Mr Armstrong was concerned for his
clients. "People cannot afford to pay big prices because
their income has been curtailed. I will do my utmost to
build these houses at £400 each."
Mr Armstrong had a very responsible attitude to his customers
and his town. An early advertising publication promises
not only that the firm's houses will be as modern and
comfortable as he can make them, but also that they will
be 'designed so that every scheme enhances the beauty
of the district.'
A 'new' garden city
Bussey & Armstrong wanted to bring to Darlington the
'garden city' atmosphere typified by Welwyn.
It is interesting to consider what exactly constituted
'every modern convenience' at this between-war period.
Mr Armstrong was offering sunk switches in oxy-copper as
the hardly-to-be-resisted feature.
A whole section of Mr Armstrong's booklet is devoted to
the purchasing of houses by ordinary people, an idea not
taken for granted at the time. It points out, 'after all,
you do not rent your furniture or your car; why should
you expect someone to loan you a house?' Clear instructions
are given on how to apply to a building society for a loan
and how the society will expect to be repaid.
A change in direction
In 1984, after the demise of both the original Mr Armstrong
and his son, the present management took control. Because
of the demand in Darlington in the eighties and nineties
from the top end of the market, the company began to
build properties in the £200,000-£300,000
These properties are traditional in design using real
Welsh slate, stock bricks and leaded glazing. The company
employs an artist blacksmith to make finials and railings.
The Woodland Estate is typical of the current style. It
is a residential development in a walled parkland setting
which has won a RIBA design award.
Whatever the price or style, the company has a reputation
for housing Darlington people in houses that can be depended
upon for convenience, quality and value for money.
Feedback from Bussey & Armstrong homeowners
"The whole experience of Bussey & Armstrong is second to none. Top quality in every way." - Sarah, Leconfield
"Very pleased with the house and the service from Bussey & Armstrong." - Gillian, Timothy Hackworth Drive
"Excellent service and lovely house. Good quality build." - Helen, Leconfield