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Sheffield History

New Towns For Old - Filmed In Sheffield

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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 trolley buses 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.

Click the link and watch it for yourself - http://www.yfaonline.com/node/1023

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As previously discussed

Good to see it brought back to peoples' attention. I find it fascinating.

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Absolutely brilliant..." You're only folk as can mek this come true"...and these days, most of us can't even be bothered to vote.

One thing intrigued me was the shot of the steelworks shunter with LSC emblazoned on its tank....Can't think of a local steelworks with those initials....only across the hill ...Lancashire Steel Corporation.

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Absolutely brilliant..." You're only folk as can mek this come true"...and these days, most of us can't even be bothered to vote.

One thing intrigued me was the shot of the steelworks shunter with LSC emblazoned on its tank....Can't think of a local steelworks with those initials....only across the hill ...Lancashire Steel Corporation.

I think it is a Lancashire Steel Corporation locomotive. That LSC had a locomotive 13, Peckett 1463 of 1917.

Picture of it on Ebay

Picture of it when working for the Partington Steel & Iron Company (on page 24)

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I have seen this film before and think that this was an excellent documentary for it's time and that we are very fortunate that Sheffield was chosen as the location for this film, as it provides a rare picture of the city, in the immediate years after WWII.

The two characters are very sterotypical, especially the "Mr Chumbley - Warner" chappie, from dawn sawth, and I am convinced that Harry Enfield must have created his own impersonation on this guy.

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Just to be a little pedantic , the film was made in 1942....arguably at the worst point in the War. Amazingly, we were planning for a better future...which , arguably, started with the post War election of Attlee and his reforming and visionary administration.

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Watch Talking Pictures TV on

Virgin 445
Freeview 81
Sky channel 328
Freesat 306
Youview 81

will be showing this film on Monday at 11.50

BFI: New Towns for Old1942. Factual. This wartime public information film combines impressive shots of industrial poverty with inspiring words scripted by Dylan Thomas, proffering new housing and better lives after the war

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