New Town Utopia (15)

Description Details

The New Towns which sprung up around Britain after the Second World War were a utopian response to that conflict and the housing problems caused by the bombing of cities. For decades from 1946 onwards new towns were built creating new housing and modern facilities. Many were initially successful economically, but by the turn of the millennium some were facing problems. The New Towns had become middle-aged and tired. Quickly-built poor-quality housing for car-dependent populations make them unsustainable; infrastructure needs renewal. What happened to the utopian dream? As we embark on ‘New’ New Towns and new council estates, what can this experience tell us about building sustainable communities, cities and towns today?

New Town Utopia tells the challenging, funny and sometimes tragic story of the British new town of Basildon. Comparing the utopian words of Attlee’s post-war planning minister Lewis Silkin with the reality of the town now, the Guardian called it an ‘absorbing and heartening documentary portrait of Basildon in Essex, conceived as a super-modern utopian development for the forelock-tugging working classes after the second world war… an unapologetically upbeat film in which utopianism is taken unexpectedly seriously.’

The 2019 Festival of the Future City includes classic utopian films about cities; cities in silent cinema; documentaries on New Towns, democracy, the housing crisis and the anthropocene in the series: Cities, Future Cities and Film. We are grateful to BFI for their support for this programme.


Book online or in person at Watershed Box Office or on Tel: 0117 927 5100 Mon – Fri from 09:00 and Sat & Sun from 10:00.

Concessions apply to Full Time Students, Job Seekers Allowance, Incapacity Benefit claimants, over 60s and disabled people. Visitors who require an assistant may bring a companion free of charge. To book a free companion ticket please mention this at time of booking. Staff and students at the following organisations can purchase tickets at the Partner Rate: Arts Council England, Bristol City Council, Business West, University of Bristol and UWE. Please note that no refunds/exchanges are possible for tickets already purchased at the higher price.

Events start punctually and, out of consideration to other audience members and speakers, our policy is not to admit latecomers.

We endeavour to hold events in venues that are accessible to all. Watershed’s cinemas and event spaces are all located on the first floor which is accessible via the lift located in the main entrance foyer at Box Office. Once on the first floor there is level access to all areas. The venue has a hearing loop system. If you have specific access concerns it is advisable to contact the venue direct.

We sometimes film and photograph events. Please let us know if you do not wish to be filmed or photographed.

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