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Welwyn Garden City

The New Towns - Their Origins, Achievements and Progress

Authors: Frederic J. Osborn & Arnold Whittick

Published: 1977 (third edition) jointly by Leonard Hill (London) and Routledge & Kegan Paul (Boston).
This is an expanded, updated and retitled third edition of a book
first published in 1963 by the McGraw-Hill Book Company
under the original title "The New Towns - The Answer to Megalopolis".

Format: Hardback 10" by 7½" with 505 pages

My coverage of the original (1963) edition of the book includes the text of two chapters and several images, and can be viewed here.

The text of the third (1977) edition is not greatly altered, but further chapters have been added, whilst many of the original images have been dropped. Below, are the Contents (with the original edition contents alongside for comparison), the new Authors' Note, and three new images relating to Welwyn Garden City which were not in the first edition.


CONTENTS (1977 edition)
CONTENTS (1963 edition)
  Authors' Note Authors' Note  
  Acknowledgments Acknowledgments  
  Introduction by Lewis Mumford Introduction by Lewis Mumford  
  Part 1 I New Towns in Modern Times  
  1 New Towns in Modern Times II The Functions and Failings of Towns  
  2 The Functions and Failings of Towns III Some Data on Town Growth  
  3 The Experimental New Towns IV The Experimental New Towns  
  4 Town Growth and Governmental Intervention V Town Growth and Governmental Intervention  
  5 Evolution of the New Towns Policy VI Evolution of the New Towns Policy  
  6 Legislation for New Towns VII Legislation for New Towns  
  7 The Finance of New Towns VIII The Finance of New Towns  
  8 The Town and Country Pattern IX The Town and Country Pattern  
  9 Antagonisms to New Towns X Antagonisms to New Towns  
  10 New Towns in Regional Plans XI Achievement, Emulation and Prognostic  
  11 Achievement, Challenge and Prognostic XII Stevenage  
  12 International Influence of the New Towns Movement XIII Crawley  
  13 The Human Environment: The People's Awakening XIV Hemel Hempstead  
    XV Harlow  
  Part 2 New Towns in the London Region XVI Newton Ayciffe  
  14 Stevenage XVII East Kilbride  
  15 Crawley XVIII Peterlee  
  16 Hemel Hempstead XIX Welwyn Garden City  
  17 Harlow XX Hatfield  
  18 Welwyn Garden City XXI Glenrothes  
  19 Hatfield XXII Basildon  
  20 Basildon XXIII Bracknell  
  21 Bracknell XXIV Cwmbran  
  22 Introductory - Three Later 'South-East Region' Towns XXV Corby  
  23 Milton Keynes XXVI Cumbernauld  
  24 Peterborough XXVII Skelmersdale  
  25 Northampton XXVIII Livingston  
    New Towns in the North-East XXIX Dawley  
  26 Newton Aycliffe XXX The Aesthetic Aspect of Urban Environment in New Towns  
  27 Peterlee  
  28 Washington Tables  
    New Towns in the North-West  
  29 Skelmersdale I Some New Town Statistics  
  30 Runcorn II Housing in the New Towns to December 1962  
  31 Warrington III Progress of New Towns to December 1962  
  32 Central Lancashire IV New Towns: Balance Sheet Figures at 31 March 1962  
    New Towns in the Midlands V Manufacturing Industry in New Towns to December 1962  
  33 Corby VI Offices in New Towns  
  34 Telford  
  35 Redditch New Towns Committee Conclusions  
    New Towns in the Wales Selected Bibliography  
  36 Cwmbran  
  37 Newtown and Mid-Wales  
    New Towns in Scotland  
  38 East Kilbride  
  39 Glenrothes  
  40 Cumbernauld  
  41 Livingston  
  42 Irvine  
  43 Changes in Planning New Towns  
  1 Selected Data on the New Towns  
  2 Some 'New Towns' planned since 1900  
  3 Selected Bibliography  


This book is concerned primarily with the foundation and development of British new towns inspired by the Garden City idea originated at the end of the 19th century. Since the Second World War many new towns, influenced by the British lead, have been founded in other countries and a list of some of these is given in Appendix 2.

In 1977 an International New Towns Association was established with substantial initial grants from the American, British and French governments and a permanent office at 7 Grafton Street, London W1. This will act as a world centre for the exchange of experience and information between bodies interested in new towns. Membership is open to governments, local authorities, private and public corporations, professional persons and other individuals.

Our purpose in this work is to give a broad account of the new towns of Great Britain, of the circumstances and lines of thought from which they arose, and an evaluation of their significance for the future of urban development. Short descriptions follow of the twenty-eight designated under the New Towns Acts up to 1977, with a selection of plans and photographs sufficient to indicate their form and character.

We make no claim to have produced either a full study of the individual towns or a definitive history of the movement that led to them; such a programme would be impossible in a single volume. Some of the towns have already found, and others will find, their own historians, for whom a wealth of data exists in the official reports of the development corporations, local records, newspaper files and the memories of inhabitants. And before long, we hope, the history of the new towns movement will be written by a scholar with time and endowments adequate to the task.

Our contribution is that of contemporary observers who have taken part in the advocacy of the new towns concept and have been caught up in the controversies that have raged around it - one of us for over half a century. That should absolve us from any charge of inhuman detachment. We are more likely to be accused of lack of objectivity by critics who have a bias differing from ours. Certainly we make value judgements, as anyone must in discussing social affairs, but when we do so we try to be conscious of the fact. In taking sides on some contentious issues we make every effort to be fair to opposing views. Our promise, to ourselves and the reader, is 'to be candid but not impartial'.

Though the subject matter, arrangement and illustration of this book are our joint choice, its parts have been separately written. Chapters 1 to 13 are the work of F. J. Osborn, and Chapters 14 to 43 of Arnold Whittick. Each has considered comments by the other, but no complete assimilation of views has been attempted. The divergences we have discovered are few, and none is important, except perhaps in our aesthetic appraisals, and even there we find different theoretical reasons for liking the same things.

For this third edition the text has been further revised. A new chapter (13) records recent developments in British planning thought and practice and the world-wide rise of interest in the quality of the human environment. It discusses also the alarm expressed by the authorities of London and other big cities about the decline in their industries and employment, due, in fact, much more to spontaneous than planned dispersal, which remains necessary and needs to be accompanied by city renewal on standards of housing, work-places and open space comparable with those of the new towns.

As we remind the authorities in Chapter 13, central city renewal and planned dispersal are not antagonistic but complementary. Satisfactory renewal on human standards necessitates adequate space in relation to population. The continued congestion of inner-city areas makes this impossible without a further measure of dispersal.

In Part II chapters have been added on new towns started in Britain since 1968, and descriptions of the earlier towns extended to include later developments. The material available has been so voluminous that it has been necessary to make a restrictive selection. Preference has been given to the more outstanding, such as very original planning of residential areas and of town centres. The order of the sections is the same in each chapter: reasons for designation; description and assessment of the outline plan; progress of planning and building; descriptions of residential areas; neighbourhood and town centres; industrial zones and appraisal of social aspects.

New plans and photographs have been introduced, but again it has been necessary with so much material to be rigidly selective, and preference has been given to plans rather than to photographs. Many that appeared in the earlier editions have been omitted from this third edition and preference given to developments from 1969 to 1977.

The statistical tables have been updated to the end of 1976, and additions made to the bibliography of a few of the innumerable recent publications of informative value or controversial interest, but the list is inevitably selective.

The information we give is as up to date as possible, but since the book went to press in mid-1977 there have inevitably been changes of which we have been unable to take account.
July 1977

Frederic J. Osborn
Arnold Whittick




Campus West - cultural centre

(click image to enlarge)


Town centre plan

O - Offices
S - Shopping
R - Residential
P - Car Park
MP - Multi-Storey Car Park

(click image to enlarge)


Multi-storey car park in town centre

(click image to enlarge)