Friday, 22 February 2013

The New Town Blues

I am a bit pressed for time this week so I thought I would just write a short entry explaining the title – the New Town Blues. I was going to wait until it came up in the housing visitor reports but I’m going to have to jump the gun –
“I have been discussing the problems of loneliness with quite a number of tenants. This problem is known as the New Town Blues and is widely recognised.  Its avoidance lies in the development of a sense of community.”
This problem was oft commented upon at the time. New Town Blues came to represent hte isolation and loneliness people felt in this new town, cut off from friends and families, and, often even without a house telephone on which to ring home. The Livingston Development Corporation went to great lengths to combat the Blues (see the previous posts about the number of social groups that was started up in Livingston. The resulting community spirit is still felt today.)
Anyway, one specific attempt to combat loneliness at the time was the “Bureau for Lonely People” which was kind of like a dating agency but for those who only wanted friendship. Those who wanted to sign up gave their details and the Social Relations/Community Development Department kept an index on filing cards and matched up prospective friends. The Head of the Department, Leslie Higgs, was rather proud of his idea and it garnered nationwide press coverage, including appearing on the BBC. In the end, it matched up about thirty families. This bureau is also an example of the difficulties of using archives as evidence – you know it existed, but how do you prove it? After much scouring, in the end, I was only able to find a couple of brief mentions in our records, including these in the Corporations’ newspaper ‘Location Livingston’, in 1973:

No comments:

Post a Comment