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.
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.