Film ID:
YFA 28

NEW TOWNS FOR OLD

1942

Visitor Tabs

Description

Commissioned by the Ministry of Information and scripted by Dylan Thomas, this film addressed the need for town planning in Sheffield in the post-war world.  It features two men who discuss pre-war slum clearance and town planning. 

The film opens with a view over Sheffield, with the River Don and a steam train passing in the background.  Two men are standing overlooking factories and houses.  One man has a southern accent, is dressed in a bowler hat, can carries an umbrella.  The other man speaks with a Yorkshire accent and has a trilby and a pipe.   

A steam engine is shown shunting in a steel factory.  The men discuss the scene and make their way down a cobbled street away from the factory chimneys.  There are children playing in the streets and on waste ground.  The Yorkshire man says that children should not have to grow up in these conditions.   

They then walk down a hill where there are new blocks of flats, both men commenting that the flats are better than what was there.  The Yorkshire man says that both houses and factories should not be in the same part of town.  As they stop outside a ‘Public Cleansing Station’, the other man states that a town cannot just be moved around, to which the Yorkshire man responds by pointing to an area of demolished houses that has been pulled down to plan the town.  He relates that 20 years ago a new council decided to clean up the town.  The film shows the city centre with trams passing near Sheffield Town Hall. 

More areas of slum clearance and of the city centre are shown as the Yorkshire man explains the clearance and rebuilding plans.  Then there is open countryside as well as some of the 30,000 new houses that were built.  Children are playing in fields and climbing trees.   

The other man questions what they are going to do with the cleared slum areas.  The film goes onto address this issue by showing an office with various maps and designs for future building plans.  More new houses and flats are shown, along with new schools, hospitals and roads, and the ‘green belt’.  The Yorkshire man says that the War has put a temporary halt to the re-building plans, but when it is over, towns must be rebuilt the same way.  The other man asks who is going to make these plans come true, and the Yorkshire man turns around, points at the camera and says, “They are, you are, you are the only folk that can make these plans come true . . . remember, it’s your town.”  The film ends with steam and a whistle.   

‘The End’   ‘M of I’