First Citizens of New Estate

Collection: London Screen Study Collection
ID No.: n/a
Title: First Citizens of New Estate
Date: 19 February 1951
Film-maker: Pathé Newsreels
Colour: Black & White
Sound: Sound
Duration of complete item: 1 min. 3 sec.
Themes: Post-war Reconstruction


A news report on the first residents of a newly built block on the Lansbury Estate in Poplar.


The film opens with an exterior view of a new three story block of flats. The commentary introduces the Snoddy family (Mr and Mrs Snoddy, their two children and Mrs Snoddy’s mother) who will be the first new residents of the block, taking a four room ground floor flat. To mark the occasion, Mr Snoddy is presented with the key to the flat by Mr Reginald Stamp who is chairman of the LCC Housing Committee. The film shows a bomb damaged street and describes his old home (a Victorian terraced house) as “a stricken survivor of the blitz” which will be pulled down to make way for another new housing estate.

The Snoddy family are shown leaving their old house for the last time and Mr Snoddy waves the house good buy. Albert Snoddy is described as a 35 year old boiler-maker who has been “lame from birth”, which is why they are moving to a ground floor flat. The removal van is seen being emptied whilst Mr Snoddy’s son “young Albert” looks on with his pet tortoise. The Snoddy’s are seen entering the new flat and taking off their coats, whist the commentary states that “the greatest single factor for happiness these days is homes, and with this in view, Poplar plans wisely and builds well”.


The post-war period saw a huge demand for new housing as many lived in cramped accommodation, temporary buildings or houses with poor facilities and living conditions. The demand for new housing became one of the main agendas for the new government to face. The response to this need, in many places, took the form of a government led impetus for developing model estates or ‘new towns’. These developments often had a strong focus on generating community centred modern buildings.

This film illustrates one of the largest and most high profile post-war housing development projects in London. The Lansbury Estate, named after Labour politician and former Mayor of Poplar, George Lansbury, was designed to be a model development. The optimistic aim for the site was that it should have a strong focus on modern architecture and an emphasis on building a community. This was to be created through providing not just housing but integrating schools, shops and libraries. With the aim of representing new ideals in housing, the estate itself, as it was being built, formed part of a ‘Live Architecture' exhibition for the Festival of Britain in 1951.

Further information about the estate and its involvement in the Festival of Britain can be found at British History Online.



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