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The new towns grow - 1956 general progress report and individual report for Basildon


new towns

The deliberate planning and building of a new town is not without precedents in the history of this country. The ancient seaport of Winchelsea and the modern garden city of Letchworth are examples of what has been done in the past. But the problem is now for the first time being tackled on a national scale by means of the New Towns Act, 1946, which enables Development Corporations to be appointed by the Minister of Housing and Local Government (formerly the Minister of Town and Country Planning) and the Secretary of State for Scotland. These Corporations have the express task of planning and building the towns. Most of the capital required is provided by the Government in the form of repayable loans, though some of the funds, particularly for industrial and commercial buildings, are derived from private financial sources.

Eight of the towns - Basildon, Bracknell, Crawley, Harlow, Hatfield, Hemel Hempstead, Stevenage and Welwyn Garden City - are being built in a ring around London. They lie outside London's Green Belt, at distances ranging between twenty and thirty miles from Charing Cross. When they are completed it is expected that they will provide houses for over 420,000 people. These towns are not intended as dormitories for people who work in London. They arise from a conviction that the growth of the capital at the expense of the country surrounding it must be stopped, and they are being built as self contained towns where people who would otherwise be living in crowded conditions in London, or travelliing long distances from the outer suburbs to their work, can find both homes and employment. The provision of suitable industries is an integral part of the plan.

Three other new towns are being built in England - Newtown Aycliffe and Peterlee in County Durham and Corby in Northamptonshire - all offering solutions to problems created by the particular needs of local industry. The welsh new town, Cwmbran, in Monmouthshire, serves a similar purpose. Three new towns, East Kilbride, Cumbernauld and Glenrothes, are being built in Scotland, the first two having the same relation to Glasgow and the Clyde as the eight towns have to London, while the third serves the new coalfield of Fife.

The scale of this enterprise is unique in the history Britain, and nothing comparable is being undertaken elsewhere.


Essex (London 30 miles. On main roads A13 and A127).
Planned population: 80,000.
Chairman: Sir Humfrey Gale, K.B.E., C.B., C.V.O., M.C.
General Manager: R.C.C. Boniface.
Development Corporation Offices: Gifford House, Basildon. (N.B. Gifford House is outside the designated area.)
Tel.: Vange 3261/8.

The town.

Approximately 7,834 acres of land were designated as the site of Basildon New Town on the 4th January, 1949. Basildon is the name of an ancient hamlet in the designated area, which lies north-east of Tilbury, west of Southend-on-Sea and south-east of Brentwood.

Until the end of the nineteenth century the area was one of rather poor agricultural development. At that time many small plots were sold to Londoners who built huts and bungalows for weekend holidays. No thought was given to planning, and roads and sewers were not laid. The shortage of housing brought about by the two world wars has resulted in many of these buildings becoming permanent homes of an extremely low standard. Small shopping centres grew up, and by 1945 the area had about 25,000 inhabitants.

At Basildon, therefore, the Development Corporation is faced with a serious problem of redevelopment and has the task of creating a New Town which, in spite of existing man-made disadvantages, will nevertheless prove an efficient, viable and socially acceptable contribution to the national problem of the right use of land.

The development of the New Town is being planned in ten neighbourhoods grouped round a new town centre. Each neighbourhood will have its own social, educational and shopping facilities. Construction of the first three was well advanced by 1956, and a fourth had been started. When completed, Basildon will share with Harlow the distinction of being the largest of the new towns.

Two areas fronting the Arterial Road have been set aside for industry. Development of the first, which is approximately 200 hundred acres, is well advanced. Industry already attracted includes clothing firms and light engineering. The second area will cover approximately 125 acres.

Arrangements for Visitors.

Visitors should get in touch with the Development Corporation in advance, when arrangements will be made to show them round.

How to get there.

By train from Fenchurch Street station to Pitsea, thence by local bus or taxi. By road along A.127 to the Industrial area, turning right at the roundabout outside the Marconi Factory on the south side of the road.

Title: The new towns grow - WHAT TO SEE HOW TO GET THERE

Publisher: Prepared by the Ministry of Housing and Local Government and the Central Office of Information.

Comments: The New Towns is a booklet sized publication containing 15 progress reports relating to each of the new towns. The foreword and Basildon progress report contained within the publication is reproduced in its entirety, unedited and unabridged.

Lieutenant General Sir Humfrey Myddelton Gale KBE, CB, CVO, MC (04/10/1890 – 08/04/1971)
Raymond Cyril Charles Boniface (09/07/1911 - 28/05/1999). Chief solicitor to Basildon Development Corp. from October 1949 and General Manager from 1954-1975.

The fifteen New Towns in 1956 in order of designation comprise:


Stevenage (Hertfordshire). Designated: 11th November 1946.

Crawley (Sussex). Designated: 9th January 1947.

Hemel Hempstead (Hertfordshire). Designated: 4th February 1947.

Harlow (Essex). Designated: 25th March 1947.

Newton Aycliffe (Durham). Designated: 19th April 1947.

Peterlee (Durham). Designated: 10th March 1948.

Hatfield (Hertfordshire). Designated: 20th May 1948.

Welwyn Garden City (Hertfordshire). Designated: 20th May 1948.

Basildon (Essex). Designated: 4th January 1949.

Bracknell (Berkshire). Designated: 17th June 1949.

Corby (Northamptonshire). Designated: 1st April 1950.


Cwmbran (Monmouthshire). Designated: 4th November 1949.


East Kilbride (Lanarkshire). Designated: 6th May 1947.

Glenrothes (Fifeshire). Designated: 30th June 1948.

Cumbernauld (Dunbartonshire). Designated: 9th December 1955.

Page added: 14/06/2017
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