Author Topic: New Towns  (Read 5634 times)

Captain Crunch

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New Towns
« on: May 30, 2020, 04:16:18 PM »
Messing about with the Juno 6 soundpack on the Caustic 3 app (highly recommended) I did a KPM library-esque track (insistent/building) to accompany my eulogy to Stevenage. An artwork called New Town.

The artwork New Town



The track New Town

https://soundcloud.com/newamusements/new-town

I have never been to Stevenage

I’d like to add to the praise for this excellent artwork.  It reminded me that visiting New Towns is (or was) one of my hobbies.  I try to do guided tours if I can, or just have a wander.  I was lucky to get a private tour of Cwmbran as a friend lives there and was keen to show it off, in all its free parking glory. 



Stevenage is a very special place, for me it seems to be the clearest expression of what the New Towns were trying to achieve.  As a visitor, it feels like the separation of cars and pedestrians is very successful and I liked the flats on top of the shops.  Incredible church too:





Sadly it’s a bit unloved in places and I’m not sure how much fun you’d have after dark. 

Stevenage seems to be shorthand for a certain super-suburban or subtopia lifestyle.  Saxondale was set there (but was filmed in Watford?) and it’s a running gag: the least rock ‘n roll place in the country. 

Some other New Towns:

Harlow – again, worth a trip out to see some amazingly beautiful stained glass:



I wasn’t too struck on the town itself, the sculpture is lovely but it still feels like an out of town shopping area.

Cumbernauld – shithole.

Basildon – has a whole film devoted to it.  Highlight of the town for me was the cracking Bell Tower.

And if you like films, some spod at the BFI has rounded up all the New Town clips for you:

BFI Clip Dip

So, anyone been anywhere?  Anyone from anywhere? 

Re: New Towns
« Reply #1 on: May 30, 2020, 04:18:47 PM »
Milton Keynes is awful. I gave it a chance I really did. Wretched shithole

Captain Crunch

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Re: New Towns
« Reply #2 on: May 30, 2020, 04:25:20 PM »
Could you say why?  I feel very sad about Milton Keynes, be good to see if others feel the same. 

bgmnts

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Re: New Towns
« Reply #3 on: May 30, 2020, 04:31:13 PM »
A private tour of Cwmbran made me laugh quite heartily.

Dex Sawash

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Re: New Towns
« Reply #4 on: May 30, 2020, 04:38:10 PM »
Would like to go to Brasilia or however you spell it.

wosl

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Re: New Towns
« Reply #5 on: May 30, 2020, 04:46:44 PM »
Any new town enthusiast who hasn't seen Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush is advised to track it down - Stevenage, looking crisp and well-turned-out in the year of our Lord Sergeant Pepper, is practically a prime member of the cast.

Re: New Towns
« Reply #6 on: May 30, 2020, 04:49:39 PM »
As Glasgow overspill goes, East Kilbride is a bit better than Cumbernauld (damning it with faint praise) - although I’ve never actually lived in either. EK feels better-organised and less jerry-built, although can still resemble a provincial East German city when you’re shuffling through dirty slush there on some dreary winter’s day. 

There was certainly an element of social selection in EK when it was started - skilled workers were recruited from Glasgow’s ‘comprehensive redevelopment areas’ to work in the new light industries in EK while the less skilled were decanted out to massive facility-free housing schemes on the outskirts of Glasgow. Compared to how the likes of Easterhouse and Drumchapel ended up (resembling the aftermath of some kind of civil war) even Cumbernauld would probably have to be judged a success. The New Towns definitely sucked a lot of life out of Glasgow, though.

Don’t really know the other Scottish new towns. Livingston seems pretty depressing when driving through. Glenrothes and Irvine - no idea.

Fambo Number Mive

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Re: New Towns
« Reply #7 on: May 30, 2020, 04:51:14 PM »
I've been to Harlow but I wasn't aware of the lovely stained glass in your photo. If I ever go again I will have a look. The town centre had seen better days.

Been to Cwmbran as part of a walk, it seemed nice.

BlodwynPig

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Re: New Towns
« Reply #8 on: May 30, 2020, 06:22:55 PM »
Could you say why?  I feel very sad about Milton Keynes, be good to see if others feel the same.

Bleakness. Only been the once, in winter last year for a job interview at Cranfield. I waited for a bus in the shivering cold for an hour and then had a tour around the city centre and then the barren estates and finally 70s scar folk countryside. I felt very sad that day.

Sebastian Cobb

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Re: New Towns
« Reply #9 on: May 30, 2020, 06:30:13 PM »
If the Midlands is the arse of Britain, Redditch would be the piles.

Captain Crunch

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Re: New Towns
« Reply #10 on: May 30, 2020, 09:18:27 PM »
Been to Cwmbran as part of a walk, it seemed nice.

I like Cwmbran, they seemed to hit that sweet spot with the housing where it looks striking but holds up quite well, especially compared to something like the Southgate Estate in Runcorn. 

An early brochure.

That song about Cwmbran, if you haven’t heard it already.

If the Midlands is the arse of Britain, Redditch would be the piles.

Still not been there.  Which is silly because I go to the West Midlands quite a lot.  I did do a trip to nearby Droitwich, mainly to see the utterly breathtaking Sacred Heart and Saint Catherine of Alexandria.  The pictures on the website only give a hint of how beautiful it is, the whole thing just shimmers, you have to see it if you can:

http://www.sacredheartdroitwich.org.uk/

Next on the list is probably Peterlee.

imitationleather

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Re: New Towns
« Reply #11 on: May 30, 2020, 09:27:55 PM »
GLC did another song about Cwmbran: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LQyk3b3Lc3A

bgmnts

  • Depressed to the point of poisonous toxicity.
Re: New Towns
« Reply #12 on: May 30, 2020, 09:30:15 PM »
For the record, it should be Cwmbrân, and its fucking crap.

Re: New Towns
« Reply #13 on: May 30, 2020, 09:37:51 PM »
Have cycled through it but want to go and have a proper pog at New Ash Green.

http://www.span-kent.co.uk/

Re: New Towns
« Reply #14 on: May 30, 2020, 09:41:18 PM »
For the record, it should be Cwmbrân, and its fucking crap.


+1

imitationleather

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Re: New Towns
« Reply #15 on: May 30, 2020, 09:42:01 PM »
Soz, I don't know how to give letters hats.

Sebastian Cobb

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Re: New Towns
« Reply #16 on: May 30, 2020, 09:43:23 PM »
Soz, I don't know how to give letters hats.


Captain Crunch

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Re: New Towns
« Reply #17 on: May 30, 2020, 09:45:42 PM »
He used to work for Torfaen Council.

GoblinAhFuckScary

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Re: New Towns
« Reply #18 on: May 30, 2020, 09:46:44 PM »
Great thread concept. A friend did an installation piece on Milton Keynes as a new town (pictured below, salmon colour thing)


Re: New Towns
« Reply #19 on: May 30, 2020, 09:47:28 PM »
Bleakness. Only been the once, in winter last year for a job interview at Cranfield. I waited for a bus in the shivering cold for an hour and then had a tour around the city centre and then the barren estates and finally 70s scar folk countryside. I felt very sad that day.

Milton Keynes is full of long straight roads and roundabouts and little estates cut off from anywhere. If you haven’t got a car I imagine it’s pretty bleak. Stevenage old town is lovely but again the new part suffers from the grid system that makes it feel a bit characterless.
I prefer Welwyn Garden City, which has some lovely open spaces and feels more together as a city.

Alberon

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Re: New Towns
« Reply #20 on: May 30, 2020, 09:49:10 PM »
I don't know what was wrong with the old towns.

gib

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Re: New Towns
« Reply #21 on: May 30, 2020, 09:51:05 PM »
Harlow had the tiniest venue ever for gigs, i think it was called The Harlow Square. Any other cabbers been there?

Ambient Sheep

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Re: New Towns
« Reply #22 on: May 30, 2020, 10:20:03 PM »
Used to go there two to three nights a week for years, esp 1984-1991.  Saw many acts in their infancy (Seymour aka Blur, On a Friday aka Radiohead, Bill Bailey (as half of The Rubber Bishops), Jerry Sadowitz, Jo Brand, Jack Dee, Paul Martin/Merton, Eddie Izzard, Harry Hill and many many more).  Played there myself.  Was there for its closing down party.  Capacity 325 although only 250 in the gig area IIRC.

I lived just outside Harlow for nearly 30 years, on and off.  Lots I'd like to say about it but pushed for time right now.  Wasn't going to post for a while but the mention of my beloved Square (RIP) meant I couldn't resist.

Re: New Towns
« Reply #23 on: May 30, 2020, 10:28:11 PM »
Could you say why?  I feel very sad about Milton Keynes, be good to see if others feel the same.
it's just awful really. i mean i want to think it's good to just dump a town in a bunch of fields (i mean when you flip the overlay on this it really brings it home what they did https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/#zoom=13&lat=52.04845&lon=-0.75843&layers=6&b=1 )
but it just doesn't work.

also once I got lost somewhere outside it walking back from the open university campus at Walton Hall and when I finally got to MKC and on the train I felt like Snake Plissken.

however i'll still take planners over developers any day. all of london is getting hyper shitholed by capitalism. at least milton keynes didn't consume its orbiting villages with total garbage (ok there are some shitty developments at places like Middleton, but round the church there is still nice)

Re: New Towns
« Reply #24 on: May 30, 2020, 10:33:44 PM »
Harlow had the tiniest venue ever for gigs, i think it was called The Harlow Square. Any other cabbers been there?

You mentioning that has brought back a suppressed memory of playing there at some sort of new band night probably 11/12 years ago. Ahh, we were shite.

Re: New Towns
« Reply #25 on: May 30, 2020, 10:51:36 PM »
I found this wonderful 1970s photo of East Kilbride.  The raised platform with the stylish orange curtains is the cap of the Mushroom Bar and Restaurant. To me, that epitomises the New Town movement: extracting the proletariat from their inner city slums and transporting them to a world where prawn cocktails and Campari and soda could be enjoyed inside a concrete mushroom.

East Kilbride Town Centre

Re: New Towns
« Reply #26 on: May 30, 2020, 11:04:23 PM »
Is Crawley a new town? It's...unpleasant.

imitationleather

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Re: New Towns
« Reply #27 on: May 30, 2020, 11:05:54 PM »
Creepy Crawley

Re: New Towns
« Reply #28 on: May 30, 2020, 11:07:32 PM »
Funny to remember, but I spent a bit of time in Milton Keynes growing up as my mam's older sister moved down there in the 60s, so we'd visit once or twice a year. I was very close to my aunt (still am), her husband (sadly dead) and their son (a close friend) so I always looked forward to the trips. Coming from a small town, it all seemed very strange in it's layout and ultra modern. I remember we all took the train down in 1992 for my aunt and uncle's 25th wedding anniversary and on being driven to their house with my dotty old Great-Uncle and Aunt, chuckled at their open mouthed wonder at it all, compared to the tiny pit village they'd spent their whole lives in.

Of course, when I was a bit older and I went for a few nights out with my cousin, I realised it was an equal a cultural oasis as where I came from. He moved away, my Aunt followed maybe 12 years ago. I think the last time I was there would be 2006 or so, when I interviewed the groundsman of MK Dons for a magazine I was working on at the time. I get all the jokes, but still, there's fond memories of the place for me.

Captain Crunch

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Re: New Towns
« Reply #29 on: May 30, 2020, 11:14:28 PM »
I found this wonderful 1970s photo of East Kilbride.  The raised platform with the stylish orange curtains is the cap of the Mushroom Bar and Restaurant. To me, that epitomises the New Town movement: extracting the proletariat from their inner city slums and transporting them to a world where prawn cocktails and Campari and soda could be enjoyed inside a concrete mushroom.

East Kilbride Town Centre


I love that.  I’d imagine Forton Services is seen as the best example but Newcastle had a beautiful one back in the 70’s:


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