Development of the English Town


Film: Development of the English Town

Filmed in 1943, released in 1944.

Film was bought by the ‘Town and Country Planning Association’ (The Planning Centre, 28 King Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2) for £4.12.0 on the 20th November 1944.

This was after the film was screened at the Council ‘Cinema Theatre’ for a number of organizations, especially those with some ties to urban regeneration, architects, and foreign representatives including the Belgian rep, Mr Wynants.

The film itself was used as a resource for other films being made around related topics. Copies were requested for loan or purchased by organisations such as the Electrical Development Association.

The film was loaned for the Tottenham Town Planning Exhibition at Tottenham Town Hall in 1944 – the exhibition ran until August 26th 1944, and was designed to be accessible as a community resource to depict urban development patterns as the war was coming to an end.
  • ‘The object of this exhibition is to create and quicken public interest, as it will call for the co-operation of all interested in the future of Tottenham.’

The film was requested by a number of other local councils and for town planning conferences.

The full cost of the film was £633. 13. 19d – paid to Gaumont-British Instructional Ltd. on the 15th May 1944.

This film was often requested alongside other Council productions including ‘City’ and ‘River’.

The film was requested by the Ministry of Health to show to their housing dividision.

Filming Costs

Mary Field’s Salary – £110.4.11
Cameramen - £18.18.7
Film Stock and Processing - £179.7.11
Commentator - £28.7.0
Location Expenses - £30.0.0
Cutting and Editing - £54.2.0
Sundry Items - £92.0.0

The film was partly created in response to the 1940 Barlow report and its policy on ‘the decentralisation of industry and population, and guidance on the location of industry’ – it was developed to show how changes to policy could be implemented in town planning. There was an estimate that 3-4 million houses should be built in the first ten years after the war.

Critical response to the film was provided by architects etc. – was very much concerned with how the films would effect the way that Britain is shown overseas. One architect who was brought in to provided constructive criticism of the film, Jane B. Drew, stated that not enough modern architecture was shown in the picture, which would perhaps illustrate that Britain is not developing a contemporary style of its own. She discusses the ‘definite propaganda value’ of the film, and how to maximise its potential. She also complains that the tone and shapes of the architecture are not as aesthetically pleasing as they could be.

Much industry advice was sought before the release of the films, and the finally piece was very much a collaborative effort between the Council and the people who suggested re-drafting of the scripts and cuts and editing of the moving images. Organisations such as the ‘General and Municipal Workers’ union lent a hand in critiquing the documentary

Shooting locations for the films were originally proposed as follows:

Rye, Dorking, Winchelsea, Farnham, Milton Abbas, Dorchester, Wells, Bath, Gloucester, Bristol, Barnstaple, Chipping Camden, Hereford, Pembridge, Ludlow, Liverpool, Newcastle, York, Lincoln, Leeds, Bury St. Edmunds, Nottingham, Birmingham, Cambridge, Bygrave, Letchword, Welwyn, St. Alabsan, London District.

Full info on contracts is available in the file if necessary.

Mary Field had 10 weeks in total to make the film.

A lot of the preliminary background research is also held in the film which informs the script, it doubles as a research file.