Gordon Stokes Transport

Material on Garden Cities and New Towns

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Last updated - Sept 2017


This page mainly contains links to archive films about Garden Cities and New Towns. I also make various comments about them in terms of their success and relevance to current planning issues. This is not an area I have researched formally, but having been brought up in Welwyn Garden City, studied Geography at Reading University, and discussed issues with various students and researchers I do write from some knowledge.

The links below are to archive films. They will open in a new window.
Some sites only allow access from the UK (or at least not the USA or Spain, at least).

Films about New Towns

"Charley in New Town" - www.talkingnewtowns.org.uk/content/resources/films-new-towns
This Central Office of Information film from 1948 clearly presents the arguments made in the 1940s for building new towns. Besides being clear, easy to understand, and entertaining it's a classic of gentle propaganda. In terms of concise presentation I think we could learn a lot.

"Planned Town" - www.eafa.org.uk/catalogue/2503
This celebration of the successes of Welwyn Garden City in its first 25 years which stresses the importance of design for people. Louis de Soissons (WGC architect) supervised the film making. (For some reason the entire film needs to download before it will play - it took about two minutes on our slowish broadband).

"Transatlantic teleview - New Towns in Britain" - www.eafa.org.uk/catalogue/249
Made in 1956 this 13 minute film made for in the UK for an American audience extols the virtues of Harlow New Town, though does recognise that it's not perfect.

"An experiment in towns - 1958 Harlow" - www.eafa.org.uk/catalogue/401
After an introduction to town development since roman times, this 20 minute film uses graphics to show how the growth of London since the industrial revolution required a new approach. Harlow is used as a successful example of a planned town.

"Changing Places: Nearly New Town (Harlow)" - www.eafa.org.uk/catalogue/5010
A 1982 BBC documentary looking at the plans and reality (as seen by residents) of Harlow.

"A View of Bishopsfield" - www.eafa.org.uk/catalogue/253
A 1969 film made by Harlow Cine Club looking at one estate (Bishopsfield), also known at the Kasbah (for unknown reasons). Local's views are recorded and vary widely.

"Milton Keynes - A village city" - player.bfi.org.uk/film/watch-milton-keynes-a-village-city-1973/
By 1973 the tone is different. The idealism is somewhat less, but the reliance on cars for Milton Keynes' success is obvious.

"Housing makes history 1953" - player.bfi.org.uk/film/watch-housing-makes-history-1953/
An 18 minute film singing the praises of the Conservative government's building of 300,000 houses per year.

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Gordon Stokes, 2016