Cat no. 2503

Planned Town

Running time11:29 Black & White Sound 1949 Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire

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The failings of industrial towns are listed, before an alternative is proposed: Welwyn Garden City.



The film begins with an overhead shot of 'back-to-back' housing in a typical mining town, followed by shots of miners in dirty uniforms leaving a mine, a slag heap and a factory. The narrator laments at how dirty, polluted and overgrown most towns are.

He then proposes an alternative philosophy, the 'Garden City', as developed by Ebenezer Howard in his book 'Garden Cities of To-morrow'. We see an animated map highlighting the advantages of such a settlement, including small size, proximity to the country, ordered development and a sense of space.

We are then introduced to Welwyn, beginning with an aerial shot of ordered-looking roads, housing estates and greenery. There is a montage of industries including factories, a chemical plant and a film studio. After shots of workers cycling and walking from work, Joe Dawson, the narrator's 'friend', is introduce as an example of someone who has moved into this new town to work.

Shots of suburban utopia, including large, spacious buildings in cul-de-sacs, where the house and its garden 'become one' and give the people 'room to breathe'. Footage of the planned town centre, with pedestrians shopping in wide streets, and then the town hall, with a Classical-style colonnade. The narrator then shows us how the town will be further developed, with empty space waiting to be turned into a civic centre.

There are shots of happy-looking children busy at school, the narrator claiming the town is perfect for children - and also adults, as we then see people taking part in a variety of sports including cricket and rugby. The pace slows with scenes of families and friends taking tea, picnicking and walking against idyllic backdrops. The narrator proclaims that the town is remembering the 'simple truth' that people are 'as valuable as factories and bricks and land' and must also be catered for. We have a closing aerial shot of the town before the credits roll over the animated map.

Background Information:

'Garden Cities of To-morrow' is a book by the British urban planner Ebenezer Howard. When it was published in 1898, the book was titled To-morrow: A Peaceful Path to Real Reform. In 1902 it was reprinted as Garden Cities of To-Morrow. The book gave rise to the garden city movement.

This book offered a vision of towns free of slums and enjoying the benefits of both town (such as opportunity, amusement and high wages) and country (such as beauty, fresh air and low rents). Howard illustrated the idea with his "Three Magnets" diagram. His ideas were conceived for the context of a capitalist economic system, and sought to balance individual and community needs. [Wikipedia]

Featured People:

Joe Dawson - example of a Welwyn Garden City worker

Featured Buildings:

Andrew Buchanan factory; British Lead Mill; Welgar Shredded Wheat factory

Gaumont British Instructional

G.B. Equipments Ltd.; The J. Arthur Rank Organisation Ltd.

Sean Graham

Louis de Soissons (production supervisor)

Frank North; Jack Morrison

Sean Graham

Oliver Cheatle

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