Free screenings of rare Stevenage archive film footage

PUBLISHED: 16:57 02 March 2019

Stevenage New Town in 1971. Picture: East Anglian Film Archive.

Stevenage New Town in 1971. Picture: East Anglian Film Archive.

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Free screenings of rare archive film footage of Stevenage are being offered to community groups and centres, including museums, churches and village halls.

Stevenage New Town in 1971. Picture: East Anglian Film Archive.Stevenage New Town in 1971. Picture: East Anglian Film Archive.

Supported by Heritage Lottery Fund, the Independent Cinema Office’s innovative film project takes place in the UK’s first four New Towns - Stevenage, Crawley, Harlow and Hemel Hempstead - using rare archive film footage of each of the towns to explore the shared experiences of their residents.

New Towns were planned to relocate populations in poor or bombed-out housing following the Second World War and, in 1946, Stevenage was chosen as the site of the first New Town.

‘New Towns, Our Town – Stories on Screen’ 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.

For decades these films have been kept in various film archives with limited public access. They reveal a fascinating insight into the development of the New Towns, with footage from the 1940s to the present day showcasing how the physical and social landscape of these areas have changed over time.

The Stevenage archive film package uncovers rare footage of the town from the early 1950s until the 1970s. It includes excerpts from a visual tour of the town’s public spaces in 1959 and a 1971 news report featuring the town’s impressive network of cycle paths, walkways, roads and underpasses.

Luke Doran, project coordinator at the ICO, said: “Pride and passion for people’s towns has been in abundance at our screenings, with amazing stories from childhood being unearthed and people’s recollections of their personal history and that of the town being shared and enjoyed by entire audiences.”

Project volunteer Maria Meeham said: “It has been very rewarding to be part of a project bringing archive film back to the communities represented on screen.

“People have been so generous about sharing their stories and memories and, as a result, screening events have been great fun.”

If you work or volunteer for a community venue or group, email filmhubse@independentcinemaoffice.org.uk to book a free screening.

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