This video provides a fascinating look at what Thamesmead was like when it was still fresh and new back in 1969.
The footage shows the newly inhabited part of the housing complex, with its high-rise blocks, lower maisonette buildings, shopping precinct and focal point of the large lake with swans and boats.
It illustrates some of the concepts which went into designing this new town, which was originally built to move families out of overcrowded Victorian housing in inner London.
For instance, it shows how all the residential accommodation was kept above first-floor level and how elevated walkways were used in response to the Thames Estuary flood of 1953.
A radical idea at the time imported from Sweden, water was incorporated into the design to be a calming influence on residents as it was thought features such as lakes and canals could help reduce vandalism and other crime.
As you’ll see, early 1960s Thamesmead looks very nice.
Unfortunately, the video also shows how the scheme was soon beset by problems, not least in the finances.
There are various shots of building equipment on the unfinished portion of Thamesmead lying idle during a monetary dispute between the builders and Greater London Council.
This video is part of the superb British Pathe archive which has more than 80,000 videos of filmed history.
Do you have any memories of growing up or living in Thamesmead? What lessons do you think can be learnt from the town’s first 45 years? Add your comments below.
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