Archibald Cameron Corbett was the second son of Thomas Corbett, a Glasgow merchant and philanthropist. Corbett was educated at the Glasgow Academy and inherited his father’s passion for philanthropy.
This passion led Corbett into politics, and in the 1885 general election entered Parliament as MP for Glasgow Tradeston, first as Liberal, and then Liberal Unionist. He rejoined the Liberal Party in 1908.
Corbett gifted the Rouken Glen estate and mansion house to the people of Glasgow in 1906.
Development of estates
By the age of 20 Corbett was managing his father’s building estates in Essex. Corbett inherited his father’s property business in 1880 and spent the next 3 years building high quality homes for skilled working class and middle class tenants in south east London and Ilford.
Corbett developed the Hither Green Estate between 1885 and 1911. He purchased 278 acres of land from the Earl of St. Germans taking advantage of the new railway station, vital for the transportation of tenants to Central London. Enhancing this facility, Corbett loaned the South Eastern Railway £3,400 to build a more convenient entrance. The railway company also agreed to sell cheap season tickets to Corbett tenants, a major selling point for prospective buyers.
Many of the estate’s road names are Scottish reflecting Corbett’s ancestry. Corbett included shopping parades, churches, schools and recreation grounds, and donated a library in 1907.
These facilities reflect Corbett’s wish to establish a sound and balanced community environment. Corbett was a committed temperance reformer and insisted on an embargo on the sale of alcohol.
Corbett was keen to promote ‘healthy’ living. This is reflected in the provision of recreation facilites and front and back gardens to the house.
Corbett also wished to encourage independence through home ownership and the creation of an environment that will encourage the development and flourishing of a thriving community.