New Town beginnings
Derek Townsend remembers the interesting events leading up to the New Towns announcement
Contributed by The Dacorum Heritage Trust Ltd
It was not until 1943, when Hemel Hempstead had prisoners of war, who were being based up in Piccotts End, there was a big prisoner of war camp up there and then all of a sudden the whole town was filled with Americans and they moved into Marlowes, where Peter Spivey is now, there was about 50 Yanks in there because I was very friendly with a couple who lived in there, Mr and Mrs Duncan, who had been bombed out of London. So I was playing down there quite a lot, because they had big canteens in the garden, where all the Yanks used to, or the Americans I should say, used to have their meals. But they all just suddenly disappeared in 1944 with D Day.
When we first heard, that Hemel Hempstead was going to be a ‘New Town’ I know my Father went “We don’t want those old Londoners here”, I remember him saying that and they went to a protest group, a protest meeting at the Guild House, Hemel Hempstead. I cannot tell you the date, but I know it was before 1947 when they actually decided the date, so it was just after the war, you would say about maybe 1946, I think, when they first announced that Hemel Hempstead would become one of the new satellite towns around London, organised by GLC. (Greater London Council)