Cwmbran: ‘Where the Future is Happening Now!’
Join us online for this year’s Royal Commission Christmas Lecture, “Cwmbran: ‘Where the Future is Happening Now!’” by Susan Fielding, Senior Investigator (Historic Buildings), on Thursday, 9 December at 5pm.
Voted Britain’s favourite New Town in 2021
Voted Britain’s favourite New Town in 2021* Cwmbran was built as part of an ambitious, Britain-wide programme to transform the lives of millions in the aftermath of the Second World War. Although often overlooked, Cwmbran is a fascinating, and highly significant, example of how planning and architecture were combined to create a new type of town designed for the people. This talk will chart the building history of the Cwmbran Development Corporation and explain why Cwmbran – birthplace of the Friends of Friendless Churches, Europe’s largest tinsel producer, home of the Wagon Wheel, and free parking capital of the world – is so important in the history of the built environment of Wales.
This talk is based on a new digital publication by the Royal Commission. ‘Cwmbran New Town: An Urban Characterisation Study’ has been written by Susan Fielding, Senior Investigator (Historic Buildings), and will be available as a free eBook from our online bookshop on the day of the lecture, Thursday 9 December.
This detailed account of the history and architecture of Cwmbran, the only first-generation New Town in Wales, has 178 evocative illustrations of post-war renewal, many drawn from Gwent Record Office and Torfaen Museum Trust, as well as from the Commission’s own archive.
‘The building of a new town is not merely a great task of physical construction, it is also a great adventure in social construction, for the new towns must be lively communities with their own civic consciousness and civic pride”, Lewis Silkin, The New Towns Act 1946 (foreword).
Susan Fielding, ‘Cwmbran New Town: An Urban Characterisation Study’ (RCAHMW 202)1, 134 pages with 178 illustrations, ISBN: 978-1-871184-59-7. Available as a free eBook downloadable from the Royal Commission bookshop from Thursday 9 December 2021.
*John Grindrod’s (@Grindrod) World Cup of UK New Towns Twitter poll of 2021
- Early days in Cwmbran. (Cover image) Gwent archives.
- Architects sketch by J. C. P. West for the Town Centre. Torfaen Museum Trust Collection. Fig 23
- The Oakfield Primary School, built 1955-57 in the ‘county style’ created by Colin Jones of the Monmouthshire County Architects Department, but distinguished by the use of zinc cladding. © Crown Copyright: Homes England available under the Open Government Licence; Gwent Record Office: D2603/C/3472: Cwmbran Development Corporation: Photograph Album, Oakfield, Undated. Fig 28
- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Croesyceiliog. © Crown Copyright: RCAHMW. Fig 52
- The roundabout junction of Edlogan Way, a radial road from the eastern neighbourhoods, and Caradog Road forming part of the town centre ring road, with St Davids Road, one of the main north-south thoroughfares. © Crown Copyright: RCAHMW Figure 54
- Gwent Square murals by Henry Collins and Joyce Pallot, 1974. © Crown Copyright: RCAHMW. Figure 59
- Monmouth House, opened 1967, is remarkable for the William Mitchell sculptures to the external lift shaft. © Crown Copyright: RCAHMW. Figure 67
- The south end of the shopping centre in 1998, with the combination of original building and street furniture, with later shop fronts and the giant protective canopy, added 1986 by Hildebrand & Glicker. © Crown Copyright: RCAHMW. Figure 68
- Northville from the air showing the density and pattern of housing layout. © Crown Copyright: Figures 82
- The Methodist Church at Fairhill. © Crown Copyright: RCAHMW. Figure 121
- The mono-pitched roofs and austere facades of the CDC housing at Teynes. © Crown Copyright: RCAHMW. Figures 134
- Cwmbrân: The Town where the future is happening now… Torfaen Museum Trust . Figure 171