|Title ID||3185||Collection ID||227|
|Title||A New Town Story|
|Keywords||Building Construction Buildings Carnivals Children Clubs Communities Leisure Time Activities Parades Recreational Facilities Urban Areas|
|Format||16mm Black & White Silent|
|Duration||14 min. 40 sec.|
|Copyright & Access||Copyright restrictions apply, contact Screen Archive South East for details|
This amateur film captures the community-centred ethos in the fledgling New Town of Crawley. An accompanying script was read aloud at screenings.
The film opens with photographs of various settlements and with a reconstruction of a performance by a male Victorian drawing room singer. Prior to the New Town being built, a lack of adequate facilities forced residents' meetings to take place in the cramped living rooms of private homes. Work is underway on building sites across Crawley New Town - completed buildings include modern factories, houses and schools. Evening entertainment is represented by neon signs advertising the Odeon Cinema, milk and Coca-Cola. An exterior shot of the Embassy Cinema during the day is followed by images of the county library, housed in one of the town's community huts. Crawley Football Club play a soccer match and young boys dig a hole with spades loaned to them at the adventure playground. A town meeting about 'The Future' takes place at the community hall on West Green Drive. Some of the local clubs are filmed - teenage boys play table tennis and snooker at the games hall, couples practice ballroom dancing and an amateur dramatics society rehearses. The Crawley Carnival brings the whole community together - a Royal Marines marching band leads a parade of fancy dress entrants and floats along the High Street. A model of the proposed Crawley Technical College is filmed, bringing the film to a close.
A PDF file of the accompanying script is available. See the 'Related Resources' section to access this document and further resources.
A New Town Story (1955) was made by the Crawley Film Unit, the film-making arm of the Crawley Film Society. The Film Unit was established in 1954, making 8 or 9 films before it disbanded in 1963. The amateur filmmaking society re-emerged in the late 1960s in the guise of the Crawley Cine Club, a body which later focused its attention on video formats. Crawley has therefore had a fairly strong post-war tradition of amateur filmmaking. The majority of the films produced by the original Crawley Film Unit were fictional - A New Town Story (1955) combines fiction with actuality footage. It is a lengthy film which has been edited to convey a narrative - screenings (primarily for local film societies) were accompanied by an explanatory commentary. The film has an immediacy to it whereby the local film-makers capture a New Town in its infancy, providing a record of buildings and a community which no longer exist. Screen Archive South East also houses films which record life in Crawley before it became a New Town - these were filmed by local amateur film-makers Moses and Percy Nightingale and include Crawley Events (1928 - 1937) which shows leisure activities in the town including Crawley Fair and a church parade.
The New Towns Act of 1946 designated Crawley as one of the six locales outside London which would serve as a residential and industrial area for the Londoners who were being encouraged to leave the capital. The 'Master Plan' for Crawley New Town was unveiled to the public in 1951, detailing the development of a purpose-built town on a 6,000 acre site. The details of the Master Plan reflected upon a new ideology in town planning - Crawley was to comprise of a town centre encircled by nine residential neighbourhoods (each with its own schools, shops, church, playgrounds, etc) and an industrial area. Provision was also given for large-scale population growth. The predominance given to the neighbourhoods led to the formation of a Community Association which went from strength to strength in the early years of the New Town. As featured in A New Town Story (1955), the Community Association encouraged residents' meetings and the establishment of clubs and societies within the community. The Master Plan's intention for a community centre was not however realised by the town planners - it was instead built by West Sussex County Council in 1954. Indeed, the Master Plan was never fully realised - many of the facilities, including an extensive school infrastructure, were not completed and the community-driven town, as portrayed in the 1955 film, became increasingly less evident as Crawley grew at an exponential rate. Screen Archive South East film South Eastern England (1968) illustrates the extent of development in the area - it contains aerial shots of Crawley and Gatwick Airport. In Lambeth 1958 (1958) the Bishop of Mombasa acts a the Vice-Chairman of a committee looking at the spirit of community in the New Towns - the film contains some images of one of these towns (possibly Crawley). It should be noted that the building of New Towns was not limited to the area surrounding London. For example, Screen Archive South East houses the film Cumbernauld New Town, 1956-1977 (1956 - 1977) which records the development of a New Town in Scotland.