London Metropolitan Archives have recently added this excellent video to Youtube. It documents the initial plans and outlooks for Thamesmead with some excellent vintage footage. Well worth a look. It looks into the whole town planning ideas that went into it – “walkways above the roads” are introduced with cute infographics and reference is made to the town centre – a hub that was never really actualised. It’s interesting to learn that the park land that goes between Lesnes Abbey and Southmere was constructed deliberately as a higher level, just to relieve the flatness of the original marshland, and trees were put in for landscaping even before the houses were constructed. So many other plans came to nothing – massive swimming pools are shown as potential ideas. Industry and office space is supposed to sit alongside the housing, and a big point is made of local shopping near educational facilities as well as in a centralised area. Some of these things are finally coming together, but it’s so far from the glorious plans. Polytechnics, parks along the river… so much promise!
The Gooch family are introduced and their home is shown off. This has become something of a trope these days whenever the history of Thamesmead is covered, as they were the first to move in. Seeing the residents meeting was more interesting – it looks so obviously dated now as people put their queries to “Mr Chairman”, but it’s a fascinating insight and we get to see foreign visitors visit this futuristic area.
Fantastic stuff – see for yourself: