New Towns, Our Town: Stories on Screen is an innovative film project that seeks to increase the visibility of, and pride in, the story of the New Town movement, and the unique social history and heritage of these pioneering towns. The project takes place in the first four of the UK’s New Towns – Stevenage, Crawley, Hemel Hempstead and Harlow – using rare archive film footage to explore the shared experiences of their residents.
In the 73 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 New 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. New Towns, Our Town: Stories on Screen 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.
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