BBC documentary examines how Welwyn Garden City was influenced by eugenics

Dr. Sue Currell and Angela Saini in Welwyn Garden City. Picture: BBC

Dr. Sue Currell and Angela Saini in Welwyn Garden City. Picture: BBC - Credit: BBC

A BBC Four show featured Welwyn Garden City and its founder Ebenezer Howard last night.

The original Garden City concept by Ebenezer Howard, 1902.

The original Garden City concept by Ebenezer Howard, 1902. - Credit: Public Domain

Eugenics: Science's Greatest Scandal, presented by science journalist Angela Saini and disability rights activist Adam Pearson, looked at the origins of eugenics - a set of beliefs and practices that aim to improve teh genetic quality of a human population by excluding certain genetic groups.

Angela visited Welwyn Garden City and met Dr Sue Currell from the University of Sussex to discuss how the garden city with utopian principles at heart was influenced by eugenics.

Upon examining a map of the original garden city concept, areas such as 'Homes for waifs' and 'Home for inebriates' were highlighted.

Dr Currell told Angela: "The underlying influnces on this definitely come from eugenic ideas about uplift and improvement, but also segregation and seperation."


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Angela reflected on her visit: "I can't help wonder if I had been around at that time, and been a part of those intellectual circles, whether these ideas would have appealed to me too - and that's quite a disturbing thought."

The show is on BBC iPlayer for the next 29 days.

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