East of the M60’s 2021 Advent Calendar looks at a fifty-year-old film of a Hertfordshire New Town

Before 1946, Stevenage was a small, slow-growing market town. It was on the Great North Road and a stopping point on London-bound stagecoach routes. After 1946, Stevenage became one of Britain’s first New Towns as per the Abercrombie Report.

As a much-expanded town, its aim was to provide a less crowded place to live than London whilst having good access to the capital. In this film, we see a different approach to your typical Development Corporation film. Residents instead of local government officials play a wider part in this 21 minute clip.

Therefore our experience of Stevenage is told by the people who live in Pin Green or Chells. Its leisure attractions, town centre and housing. There is no narrator for most of the film; his voice is only heard at the beginning.

Also noted in the film is how Old Stevenage blends in with the rest of Stevenage itself. Especially how the planners, quite rightly, retained the old town’s streets. Much is also mentioned of the town’s Cub Scouts and one of four adventure playgrounds.

Like Cumbernauld, Runcorn and Milton Keynes, Stevenage has a wealth of cycle paths and footpaths. All of which designed to avoid crossing the road at street level by subways. Roundabouts are used instead of traffic lights for the most part of its road infrastructure. As at East Kilbride, they are used at sub-street level for pedestrians and cyclists via subways. That is among the positive features its residents liked.

That’s all folks…

This my friends, long time readers and not-so-long time readers of East of the M60, is the final door of this year’s Advent Calendar. We hope you have enjoyed watching some geektastic films on Britain’s New Towns and a few Not-So New Towns and learned a bit of something. If you have slept better for knowing why Skelmersdale has no traffic lights, we will be happy to hear from you.

Take care, have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.


If you clap loud enough or shout “more” in the direction of your PC/digital tablet/smartphone screen, we shall give you a Brucie Bonus on Christmas Day and on Boxing Day. You never know…

S.V., 24 December 2021.

Image of Stevenage town centre by Ruth Ward, 2018 (Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Generic).

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