New Towns, Our Town - Preview Film Screening and Panel Discussion

Tue 7th May 2019 7:00PM
Stevenage Community Arts Centre, Stevenage, SG1 1XN
The Herts and Beds Cinema Club in association with the Independent Cinema Office bring you this Preview Screening of the exciting new  Film - New Towns, Our Town.

Part of Film Hub South East’s ‘New Towns, Our Town – Stories on Screen’, an innovative film project seeking to increase the visibility of the New Town movement and to celebrate the unique social history and heritage of these pioneering towns.

Join us for this amazing insight into New Town life

New Towns, Our Town (2019)
The New Towns movement is one of the South East’s most significant shared stories, with a legacy and an impact that are still felt and discussed today. In the 75 years since the first New Towns Act was passed by the post-war government, the towns it created have been both praised as modern-day utopias and dismissed as failed social experiments.

Featuring glimpses of the original rural landscapes before they were transformed for new arrivals from a London devastated by the Blitz, this collection of rare archive films sheds light on the experiences of the Towns’ early pioneers as well as following generations. Promotional films by the Development Corporations that oversaw construction, television documentaries from the UK and beyond, as well as amateur footage from residents themselves, reveal how these ground-breaking towns have been continually reshaped in and by the public imagination.

With the UK’s ongoing housing crisis, the lessons of the New Towns are once again at the forefront of social and political debates and this valuable programme gives audiences a chance to reflect on their legacy; distinguishing the long-perpetuated myths of bleak architecture and endless roundabouts from the reality of the people and communities who call them home.

Films in the Programme:
Crawley Events
Dir: Percy Nightingale | UK | 1928-37 | 4mins
Twenty years before being designated as one of the UK’s first New Towns, amateur film-makers capture community-centred events in 1920s Crawley, including the Crawley Fair and the Church Parade. Later footage from 1937 shows the town’s jubilant celebrations for King George VI’s coronation.

Planned Town
Dir: Sean Graham| UK | 1949 | 3mins
Ebenezer Howard’s book 'Garden Cities of To-morrow' offered a vision of towns free of slums and enjoying the benefits of opportunity, amusement and high wages you would find in the cities along with the beauty, fresh air and low rents of the countryside. The book gave rise to the Garden City movement which preceded the first New Towns Act of 1946. Welwyn Garden City was the second of these Garden Cities, before itself being designated a New Town in 1948.

An Experiment in Towns
Dir: John Reeve | UK | 1958 | 6mins
Drawing comparisons with the transformation of the rural landscape by the industrial revolution, this film charts the history of the New Towns as a solution to the dual problems of relieving urban congestion and providing homes for those who lost theirs in the Blitz.

Postscript to Empire: Britain in Transition
Dir: Michael Alexander | US | 1962 | 3mins
The rapid development of these new social utopias to solve the post-war housing crisis is called into question by existing residents. The reaction of this farming family outside Stevenage reflects similar complaints and objections from the old neighbors of other New Towns.

Home of your Own
Dir: unknown | UK | 1951 | 12mins
Two years after the first newcomers arrived, Hemel Hempstead Development Corporation commissioned this short fictional film to promote the town to people looking to move out of London and start a whole new life. Famous character actor Harry Lock stars as the bricklayer who passes through Hemel Hempstead by chance is taken with the whole idea. He returns home to persuade his wife......

New Towns in Britain
Dir: unknown | UK | 1956 | 11mins
An insider's guide to 1950s Harlow made for US audiences, with recently-settled residents of Harlow giving the lowdown on living in one of Britain's New Towns and architect-planner Frederick Gibberd explaining his modern building concept.

Hemel Homestead
Dir: unknown | UK | 1957 | 7mins
Moving home is never easy, but relocating a whole company and its employees from post-war London to the state-backed 'New Town' redevelopment of Hemel Hempstead is daunting for all involved. This film, produced by the industrial shelving company Dexion, seeks to assure its staff that a new life for their families outside London is a step into a modern age.

View of Hatfield
Dir: unknown | UK | 1952 | 2mins
Shot over the second half of 1952, this film provides a visual record of life in the Hertfordshire town of Hatfield in the early 1950s including the heaving swimming pool and the delivery and assembly of
pre-fabricated housing.

Basildon Our Town
Dir: unknown | UK | 1974 | 5mins
Made by local residents themselves, this film reflects on the modern success story of Basildon New Town, featuring amenities that would rival those left behind in London while benefitting from all this country-style living has to offer.

Stevenage the First New Town
Dir: Gordon Ruttan | UK | 1974 | 6mins
This film, commissioned by the Stevenage Development Corporation, takes an optimistic look at life in the original new town as citizens extol the town's virtues as a great place to raise children and care for the elderly.

Peterborough - A City Fit to Live
Dir: David C. Kenten | UK | 1971 | 6mins
The third and last wave of new towns allowed for additional growth. In 1967 Peterborough Development Corporation was formed in partnership with the city and county councils to house London's overspill population in new townships sited around the existing urban area. But will it Peterborough a ‘better place’?

Milton Keynes - A Village City
Dir: unknown | UK | 1971 | 6mins
"The most exciting thing going on in Europe, if not the world": welcome to Milton Keynes circa 1973 as town planners earnestly trumpet the logic and ambition behind the largest, and arguably the most famous, of the New Towns.

Changing Places: Nearly New Town
Dir: unknown | UK | 1982 | 6mins
Thirty-five years after its designation as a New Town, Harlow’s residents reflect on its success as a ‘town of the future’ while architect-planner Frederick Gibberd laments the complications and barriers that prevented him from fully-realising his vision.

Event Details

Doors Open at 6:15PM
Starts at 7:00PM


Stevenage Community Arts Centre, Stevenage, SG1 1XN

Google map static shot of Stevenage Community Arts Centre, Stevenage, SG1 1XN

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