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Charley in New Town

Charlie: Hello. Hello morning. My, this is a grand way to start the day. Bit different from what it used to be, I can tell you. I can remember like it was yesterday. Coo, it wasn't half so comfortable. Took a bloke a good hour to get to work. As for the view - if you can call it a view - you needn't ask when you were getting near the town - you knew without looking. Still what could you expect with drab looking houses and ugly factories; not even a blooming place for the kids to play - poor little blighters. I tell you - by the time I got to work I was all in.

Well, one day I was proper fed up with it all. It seemed to me we had made a real mess of things in our town. Still, if you can make a muck-up of things you can put them right. Boy, that's when I had a great idea. But. I wasn't the only one - oh no!

Chairman: Let’s start by seeing how our town looked a hundred and fifty years ago. Small, compact, thriving small population. Then the industrial revolution happened. Industry moved into the town. It needed workers. The town was now unhealthy and crowded, but as soon as new roads and railways were built houses followed them and the congestion remained. In fact our town has turned into a monster. The surrounding country is being eaten up bit by bit.

Voice: Put a stop to it quick!

Chairman: Right - then we'll have a green belt here, in which agriculture will be safe for ever and into which the town will not intrude. That doesn't solve the problem, however, we're still overcrowded.

Voice: I say move out - make a fresh start.

Chairman: STOP! Don't do something you'll be sorry for later. Come back and let's think it over. If we're to make room for everyone without spreading out we must build upwards.

Voices: "Don't be silly, I'd never get the pram up there." "Here hold on - what about my garden." "You've ruined my favourite pub, sir."

Chairman: Alright, alright, no skyscrapers. But before we can replan the old town we must provide for the surplus population. Here, outside the green belt we have a favourable site. Good road and rail communications, fresh air, good water supply. We must decide on its size in advance. And we must plan this town so that we don't repeat past mistakes.

Charlie: First thing we all agreed on was to separate industry from dwelling houses.

Chairman: Industry here, close to through roads and railways. Residential area here, with not more than 5 minutes travel from home to work, which means making cycle tracks and by-roads linking up the two sections. Now let's see what we need for good working conditions. Up-to-date factories with plenty of light and air.

Voices: "We'll need room for expansion." "And good canteens too." "What we don't want is a lot of dirty smoke - you can keep that."

Chairman: Oh, we can't always cut down the smoke, but we can site the factory downwind.

Charlie: Our town was going to be a good place to work in, and a grand place to live in, with plenty of open spaces; parks, and playing fields where people could enjoy them, flower gardens, and of course there'd have to be an attractive town centre too, with plenty of room for folks to meet. Good shops, a posh theatre, cinemas, a concert hall, and a civic centre.

Chairman: We have to plan the residential area next. Let's consider it as a series of neighbourhoods and take any one of them. Now - how shall we plan? Most important of all is the child. So we'll need pedestrian routes for the pram-pusher. Nursery schools within 400 yards of every home. Primary schools within safe and easy reach. Each neighbourhood must have its own.

Voices: "Churches" "Community centre" "Shopping district" "And lots of pubs - right next door to me" (answer) "Oh no, you don't."

Chairman: Oh, there'll be a pub quite near enough for you. And finally, we started on the houses. The site was planned for maximum sunshine and then everyone could take his choice.

Charlie: Detached houses - semi-detached - terraced houses. Flats for people who wanted them - hostels where the young folks could get together, and bungalows for the old ones.

And so we moved right in. I'm telling you - it works out fine; just you try it!


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