Giving advice to the New Towns Commission
Nellie Black recalls when she was part of a women's group, who gave the Commission their views on New Town housing.
Contributed by The Dacorum Heritage Trust Ltd
This interview was recorded in 2003 and every effort has been made to find a member of the interviewees’ family. If you, or someone you know is related to Nellie Black please contact the museum (The Dacorum Heritage Trust Ltd) directly 01442 879525 or firstname.lastname@example.org we would like to hear from you.
After I had been here a little while, I was asked to go on the committee of ladies. Told I would be picked up by a car and taken to an office that the New Town Commission were using and we were told that they wanted a lady’s point of view for the new houses in the new development. So we would meet just occasionally and they would tell us that they’d built so many houses in a certain area, sometimes we were taken along to see them, given our point of view about kitchens or what we felt could be improved. In Bennetts End particularly we were told that costs had gone up very suddenly and they wanted to reduce the cost because they wanted to cut something out of the houses without putting up the costs of the rent. So we were asked what we would feel we could cut out of the houses and we all felt that we didn’t want the Marley tiles that were on the floor because several people coming into the new town found that these tiles were making life very difficult, it wasn’t as easy to keep maintain the houses, they had to polish the floors. So I believe they, I don’t know whether they did it in all the houses in Bennetts End, but I know they did it in some, cut them out and just had the (normal). Because, a lot of people were covering their floors anyhow, with either linolenum or carpet and things like that happened and we were, for a short time, we were called upon to do that, until things got busier and they were having other areas to open and they stopped requiring our advice after a while.
We were given a view on shopping, it’s so out of date now, because in those days they were telling us that they would, down Marlowes, they would just have shops. With such variety that no two shops would be together. They were telling us what a wonderful variety of shops we were going to get and we were going to have a big departmental store and so on, but of course eventually the council took over and they just had to go by what was required and what they could do. They couldn’t keep up all these wonderful ideas, so they weren’t really all carried out. The shopping became a problem because, most people know, some shops were boarded up, some failed and but we found we lost a lot of shops when the new town came, good shops and you see the High Street became less important. It was wonderful, the High Street was a wonderful part.
We found that so many people in Adeyfield were involved, like a community, but as the town grew, that went. It was more like a village at one time, and when we held things for the church, sales and things we had outside and garden parties and things like that, nearly all Adeyfield came and they were so involved with it. It got to be more like a parish church.