VIDEO: See how Thamesmead looked like utopia when it was new in 1969

An image of new town Thamesmead back in 1969 as featured on the British Pathe archive

An image of new town Thamesmead back in 1969 as featured on the British Pathe archive

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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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Comments (10)

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2:04pm Mon 28 Jul 14

Joelo says...

Thamesmead is not or has it ever been as bad as it's reputation. I think the estate still maintains a certain charm. One of the biggest problems for Thamesmead is the constant fobbing off by both bexley & Greenwich councils who still have hardly any involvement in the area or it's upkeep.
Thamesmead is not or has it ever been as bad as it's reputation. I think the estate still maintains a certain charm. One of the biggest problems for Thamesmead is the constant fobbing off by both bexley & Greenwich councils who still have hardly any involvement in the area or it's upkeep. Joelo
  • Score: 55

3:42pm Mon 28 Jul 14

Gypo.Joe says...

Joelo wrote:
Thamesmead is not or has it ever been as bad as it's reputation. I think the estate still maintains a certain charm. One of the biggest problems for Thamesmead is the constant fobbing off by both bexley & Greenwich councils who still have hardly any involvement in the area or it's upkeep.
Do tell us all just where it is that you got your rose tinted spectacles from ?

Leave off, you need ya eyes tested boi.
[quote][p][bold]Joelo[/bold] wrote: Thamesmead is not or has it ever been as bad as it's reputation. I think the estate still maintains a certain charm. One of the biggest problems for Thamesmead is the constant fobbing off by both bexley & Greenwich councils who still have hardly any involvement in the area or it's upkeep.[/p][/quote]Do tell us all just where it is that you got your rose tinted spectacles from ? Leave off, you need ya eyes tested boi. Gypo.Joe
  • Score: 8

3:54pm Mon 28 Jul 14

Brook says...

There is nothing wrong with Thamesmead - just some of the people who were moved there
There is nothing wrong with Thamesmead - just some of the people who were moved there Brook
  • Score: 83

4:51pm Mon 28 Jul 14

Joelo says...

Gypo.Joe wrote:
Joelo wrote:
Thamesmead is not or has it ever been as bad as it's reputation. I think the estate still maintains a certain charm. One of the biggest problems for Thamesmead is the constant fobbing off by both bexley & Greenwich councils who still have hardly any involvement in the area or it's upkeep.
Do tell us all just where it is that you got your rose tinted spectacles from ?

Leave off, you need ya eyes tested boi.
Go away Joe
[quote][p][bold]Gypo.Joe[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Joelo[/bold] wrote: Thamesmead is not or has it ever been as bad as it's reputation. I think the estate still maintains a certain charm. One of the biggest problems for Thamesmead is the constant fobbing off by both bexley & Greenwich councils who still have hardly any involvement in the area or it's upkeep.[/p][/quote]Do tell us all just where it is that you got your rose tinted spectacles from ? Leave off, you need ya eyes tested boi.[/p][/quote]Go away Joe Joelo
  • Score: -5

7:27pm Mon 28 Jul 14

Gypo.Joe says...

Joelo wrote:
Gypo.Joe wrote:
Joelo wrote:
Thamesmead is not or has it ever been as bad as it's reputation. I think the estate still maintains a certain charm. One of the biggest problems for Thamesmead is the constant fobbing off by both bexley & Greenwich councils who still have hardly any involvement in the area or it's upkeep.
Do tell us all just where it is that you got your rose tinted spectacles from ?

Leave off, you need ya eyes tested boi.
Go away Joe
Why what's wrong boi ?


Tell uncle Joe all abaht it son.
[quote][p][bold]Joelo[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Gypo.Joe[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Joelo[/bold] wrote: Thamesmead is not or has it ever been as bad as it's reputation. I think the estate still maintains a certain charm. One of the biggest problems for Thamesmead is the constant fobbing off by both bexley & Greenwich councils who still have hardly any involvement in the area or it's upkeep.[/p][/quote]Do tell us all just where it is that you got your rose tinted spectacles from ? Leave off, you need ya eyes tested boi.[/p][/quote]Go away Joe[/p][/quote]Why what's wrong boi ? Tell uncle Joe all abaht it son. Gypo.Joe
  • Score: 6

9:44pm Mon 28 Jul 14

Womblingbarnacle says...

If the buildings were jet washed so they were as clean as when new and almost white in appearance, or the estate painted white, then the town would look vastly better.

It wouldn't cost much nor be difficult to do yet improve the appearance massively, increasing pride in the town and improving impressions from visitors.
If the buildings were jet washed so they were as clean as when new and almost white in appearance, or the estate painted white, then the town would look vastly better. It wouldn't cost much nor be difficult to do yet improve the appearance massively, increasing pride in the town and improving impressions from visitors. Womblingbarnacle
  • Score: 56

9:53pm Mon 28 Jul 14

derekhope says...

I remember that even before it was built, there was a public competition to find a name for the area. There were a number of versions of Thamesmead, including Thamesmede and Thamesmeade. The winner was Mr Anthony Walton, a London Transport supplies officer from Barnehurst who won the £20 prize.
I remember that even before it was built, there was a public competition to find a name for the area. There were a number of versions of Thamesmead, including Thamesmede and Thamesmeade. The winner was Mr Anthony Walton, a London Transport supplies officer from Barnehurst who won the £20 prize. derekhope
  • Score: 26

8:07am Tue 29 Jul 14

HelpDesk says...

Thamesmead video can be deceiving. The city appears good in the backdrop of lake with aquatic lives enjoying it to the most, but the surroundings lack the natural balance. There is no greenery at all, but in terms or architecture we should definitely admire the mind which planned it.
Thamesmead video can be deceiving. The city appears good in the backdrop of lake with aquatic lives enjoying it to the most, but the surroundings lack the natural balance. There is no greenery at all, but in terms or architecture we should definitely admire the mind which planned it. HelpDesk
  • Score: -5

10:47am Tue 29 Jul 14

RichieTay says...

seems weird looking at my area back then compared to now, I definitely enjoyed misfits and being in it, and the fact of living it every day around there.
seems weird looking at my area back then compared to now, I definitely enjoyed misfits and being in it, and the fact of living it every day around there. RichieTay
  • Score: 25

12:41pm Wed 30 Jul 14

concerned.erith says...

I remember it being built and when it was finished and all shiney. sparkling and new. Used to play in the by at the bottom Tavy Bridge and go to the kids activities in the Pyramid Club.. As well as skatboardng down the slopes on Tavy Bridge too. Few crashes on the one going down to Yarnton Way though! There was a great adventure playground over the back too - used to be known as the borders and made from telegraph poles with ropes we used to swing on. Elf and safety would have a heart attack these days especially the big zip wire that we use to go down. Bloody good fun though.

We used to go from Abbey Wood comp canoeing in the lake.
I remember it being built and when it was finished and all shiney. sparkling and new. Used to play in the by at the bottom Tavy Bridge and go to the kids activities in the Pyramid Club.. As well as skatboardng down the slopes on Tavy Bridge too. Few crashes on the one going down to Yarnton Way though! There was a great adventure playground over the back too - used to be known as the borders and made from telegraph poles with ropes we used to swing on. Elf and safety would have a heart attack these days especially the big zip wire that we use to go down. Bloody good fun though. We used to go from Abbey Wood comp canoeing in the lake. concerned.erith
  • Score: 17

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