Welwyn Garden City
|Welwyn Garden City|
View to the northwest from the Parkway Fountain
Welwyn Garden City shown within Hertfordshire
|OS grid reference|
|- London||20 mi (32 km)|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Post town||WELWYN GARDEN CITY|
|Postcode district||AL7, AL8|
|Ambulance||East of England|
|EU Parliament||East of England|
|UK Parliament||Welwyn Hatfield|
Welwyn Garden City (pron.: //), also known locally as "WGC" or "Welwyn Garden", is a town within the Borough of Welwyn Hatfield in the County of Hertfordshire, England, United Kingdom. It is located approximately 20 miles (32 km) from Kings Cross. Welwyn Garden City was the second garden city in England (founded 1920) and one of the first new towns (designated 1948).
It is unique in being both a garden city and a new town and exemplifies the physical, social and cultural planning ideals of the periods in which it was built. Because of its historical importance it attracts visitors from around the world.
Welwyn Garden City was founded by Sir Ebenezer Howard in the 1920s following his previous experiment in Letchworth Garden City. Howard had called for the creation of planned towns that were to combine the benefits of the city and the countryside and to avoid the disadvantages of both. The Garden Cities and Town Planning Association had defined a garden city as
"a town designed for healthy living and industry of a size that makes possible a full measure of social life but not larger, surrounded by a rural belt; the whole of the land being in public ownership, or held in trust for the community"
In 1919, Howard arranged for the purchase of land in Hertfordshire that had already been identified as a suitable site. On 29 April 1920 a company, Welwyn Garden City Limited, was formed to plan and build the garden city, chaired by Sir Theodore Chambers. Louis de Soissons was appointed as architect and town planner and Frederic Osborn as secretary. The first house was occupied just before Christmas 1920.
The town is laid out along tree-lined boulevards with a neo-Georgian town centre. It has its own environmental protection legislation, the Scheme of Management for Welwyn Garden City. Every road has a wide grass verge. The spine of the town is Parkway, a central mall or scenic parkway, almost a mile long. The view along Parkway to the south was once described as one of the world's finest urban vistas. Older houses are on the west side of Parkway and newer houses on the east side
The original planners intended that all the residents of the garden city would shop in one shop and created the Welwyn Stores, a monopoly which caused some local resentment. Commercial pressures have since ensured much more competition and variety, and the Welwyn Stores were in 1984 taken over by the John Lewis Partnership. A shopping mall, the Howard Centre, was built in the 1980s, incorporating the original railway station. There is now a redeveloped and enlarged Sainsburys in the town centre, and a Morrisons in Panshanger along Black Fan Road. Tesco had applied to build a new supermarket on the site of the former Cereal Partners/Shredded Wheat site. Planning permission for a Tesco at Broadwater Road was refused by the local authority in January 2012, after significant public protest. The future of the former Cereal Partners/Shredded Wheat site remains uncertain.
In 1948, Welwyn Garden City was designated a new town under the New Towns Act 1946 and the Welwyn Garden City company handed its assets to the Welwyn Garden City Development Corporation. Louis de Soissons remained as its planning consultant. That year The Times compared Welwyn Garden City with Hatfield. It described Welwyn Garden City as a world-famous modern new town developed as an experiment in community planning and Hatfield as an unplanned settlement created by sporadic building in the open country. "Welwyn, though far from perfect, made the New Towns Act possible, just as Hatfield, by its imperfection, made it necessary." In 1966, the Development Corporation was wound up and handed over to the Commission for New Towns. The housing stock, neighbourhood shopping and green spaces were passed to Welwyn Hatfield District Council between 1978 and 1983.
There is a sports centre, The Gosling Sports Centre, with a dry ski slope, golf driving range, indoor and outdoor tennis, squash, football pitches, an athletics track and velodrome, a gym and bowls. There is an airfield at Panshanger, currently used by the North London Flying School. The King George V playing field, on the boundary of the old Hatfield Hyde village, was once used by the England football team for training. There are three golf courses: Panshanger, owned and operated by the borough council, Mill Green Golf Course located in Gypsy Lane and the Welwyn Garden City Golf Club, of which Nick Faldo was once a member. The Stanborough Park and lakes was the venue for a free annual Water Carnival and firework display and a November 5 fireworks display, both of which attracted large crowds from great distances.
Roman Baths are preserved in a steel vault underneath junction 6 of the A1(M) and are open to visitors.
There is a large hospital in the town, the Queen Elizabeth II Hospital. Emergency and inpatient services are currently (March 2012) being transitioned to the Lister Hospital at Stevenage. The current hospital will be replaced by a smaller hospital offering outpatient, diagnostic and ante/post natal services.
There is a resurgence of interest in the ethos of the garden city and the type of neighbourhood and community advocated by Howard, prompted by the problems of metropolitan and regional development and the importance of sustainability in government policy.
The local civic society, which aims to preserve and conserve the garden city ethos is the Welwyn Garden City Society.
Welwyn Garden City is administered by Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council. It is in the county of Hertfordshire and the parliamentary constituency of Welwyn Hatfield. The MP for Welwyn Hatfield is Grant Shapps (Conservative). The nearby town of Hatfield and the village of Welwyn have parish councils with limited responsibilities, but Welwyn Garden City has none.
|Climate data for Welwyn Garden City|
|Average high °C (°F)||8
|Average low °C (°F)||5
|Precipitation mm (inches)||50.7
Ever since its inception as garden city, Welwyn Garden City has attracted a strong commercial base with several designated employment areas. Among the companies trading in the town are:
- British Lead Mills
- Carl Zeiss
- The Danish Bacon Company (DBC foodservice)
- Emis Professional Publishing
- Ratcliff Palfinger
- Sigma Corporation
- VEGA Group
- Welwyn Tool Group (formerly Welwyn Tool Company)
Tesco has a head office at Shire Park, a business park in the north of the town, including a full-size supermarket mock-up for staff training.
The Hertfordshire Constabulary has its headquarters in the town.
Welwyn Garden City was once well known as the home of the breakfast cereal Shredded Wheat, formerly made by Nabisco. The disused Shredded Wheat factory with its large white silos is a landmark on rail routes between London and the north of England. The factory, designed by de Soissons and built in 1924 by Peter Lind & Company, is a Grade II listed building. Cereal production moved to Staverton, Wiltshire in 2008 when the owner, Nestlé, decided that the factory required significant and prohibitive investment, due to the age of the building. Tesco had made a planning application for a store, leisure facilities and offices on the site but this was turned down.
The former supermarket chain Fine Fare had its head office in the town at one time, as did ICI's Plastics Division. In 1929 Sir Henry Birkin built the first supercharged Blower Bentley car at his engineering works in Broadwater Road.
During World War II the Special Operations Executive (SOE) had a research department in the town, the Inter-Services Research Bureau, which developed the Welrod pistol and the Welgun sub-machinegun. Station IX was a secret SOE factory making commando equipment at the old Frythe Hotel.
Welwyn Garden City's proximity to London makes it a convenient commuter town.
Buses are provided by Arriva, Centrebus and Uno, with some assistance from Hertfordshire County Council. Arriva's 300/301 Centraline service links Welwyn Garden City to the major nearby towns of Stevenage, Hatfield, St Albans and Hemel Hempstead, as well as neighbouring villages Woolmer Green and Knebworth. The 301 additionally connects both the nearby hospitals in Stevenage and Welwyn Garden City, while the 300 provides a direct link to recreational areas such as Stanborough Lakes in Welwyn Garden City and Verulamium Roman town in St Albans. Buses run every 15 minutes Monday-Friday, every 20 minutes Saturday, and hourly on Sunday. Additional bi-hourly service 314 is provided by Centrebus, connecting Welwyn to Codicote and Hitchin. The bus station is located very closely to the railway station too.
Uno buses serve the nearby towns of Hatfield, St Albans, Potters Bar, Hemel Hempstead, Watford and Barnet. Uno buses also serve further out into North London. Uno are the only provider in Welwyn Garden City to offer a regular double decker bus service, although not guaranteed, on the 601 service. Both the 601 and 603 also provide links to the University of Hertfordshire with the 601 leaving Welwyn Garden City station every 30 minutes on weekdays only and the 603 leaving every 15 minutes on weekdays and every 30 minutes on Saturdays.
The nearest railway station is Welwyn Garden City railway station in the town centre. Trains are operated by First Capital Connect and run every 20 minutes Monday to Friday south to London Moorgate and north to Hitchin and Stevenage, with a weekend service of every 30 minutes on Saturday and Sunday south to London's Kings Cross and north to Hitchin and Stevenage.
Welwyn Garden City is well-served by major arterial road routes, namely the A1(M) and the A414. The Great North Road also passes around it next to the A1(M). In addition, there are other links to St. Albans, Harpenden and Luton (via B653), Hatfield (via A1000 and A1001) and Hertford (via B1000). During the growth in car ownership in the 1950s and 1960s the town struggled to build enough garages or hard-standing spaces for the additional vehicles, which has led to many properties losing their traditional hedges and front gardens to accommodate driveways.
Welwyn Garden City has five secondary schools:
- Sherrardswood School
- Sir Frederic Osborn School, a specialist Sports College (Formed by the merging of The Welwyn Garden City High School and Attimore Hall School in 1968)
- Monks Walk School, a specialist Science College,
- Knightsfield School for the Deaf
- Stanborough School, a specialist Maths and Computing College (Formerly Welwyn Garden City Grammar School)
Tewin Water School moved from Digswell to Monk's Walk School in 1998 and was later renamed Knightsfield School to create links with hearing pupils.
The former Sir John Newsom School merged with Stanborough School on 1 September 1998.
Monks Walk School, Stanborough School and Sir Frederic Osborn School are part of the Welwyn Hatfield 14-19 Consortium, which includes a variety of secondary schools and Oaklands College in Welwyn Hatfield.
Sport and leisure 
The town also has a rugby club called Welwyn RFC. the town also has a well known cricket and also bowls clubs.
Notable people 
Current and former residents of Welwyn Garden City include:
- Lol Coxhill, saxophonist (Digswell Arts Trust)
- Thomas Bowes, violist
- David Button, footballer
- Louis de Soissons, architect (Guessens Road and High Oaks).
- Coco Star aka Sue Brice Singer Toca's Miracle & Songwriter.
- Alesha Dixon, R&B singer, rapper and TV presenter
- Robert Duncan, actor
- Nick Faldo, golfer (Sherrardspark Road)
- Tom Lewis, golfer
- Ian Fergusson, TV presenter (Panshanger)
- Frederick Forsyth, author
- Lewis Grassic Gibbon, author
- Rupert Grint, actor, 'Ron Weasley' in the Harry Potter films
- Rob Hague, drummer
- Mark Halsey, football referee
- Harry Hibbs, footballer (Mountway)
- Ebenezer Howard, town planner (Guessens Road).
- David James, footballer
- Steve Kilbey, bassist and lead singer of rock band The Church (moved to Australia at an early age)
- Glyn Maxwell, poet and playwright
- Sir Frederic Osborn, champion of the New Towns (Guessens Road).
- Mat Osman, musician
- Edmund Purdom, actor (Barleycroft Road).
- Flora Robson, actor (Handside Lane).
- Dinah Sheridan, actor (Parkway).
- Lisa Snowdon, model
- David Stephens, footballer
- Una Stubbs, actor (Ravenfield Road)
- Mick Taylor, Guitarist for The Rolling Stones from 1969–1975
- S*M*A*S*H, pop group
- The Subways, rock band
- George Sweeney, actor (Longcroft Lane)
- Mark Thompson, former Director-General of the BBC and CEO of The New York Times company
- Jamie George, rugby player
Popular culture 
Several films and television programmes were shot in whole or in part in Welwyn Garden City, including
- The Tweenies
- Superstars (Stanborough Lakes and Gosling Sports Stadium)
- UFO (Gravel pit in Cole Green Lane)
- Holby City (Exterior shots of Queen Elizabeth II hospital)
- Kellogg Company's cornflakes "Train Buffet Car" commercial (Railway station)
- Hot Fuzz (interior scenes of theatre production and theatre bar shot in the Barn Theatre)
- The World's End (another Pegg/Frost franchise coming out in 2013)
Welwyn Garden City is sometimes referred to on account of its name or suburban character, for example in George Orwell's Keep the Aspidistra Flying, a sketch by Mel Smith and Griff Rhys Jones in Alas Smith and Jones, the TV series Porridge and Strange, in the lyrics of Billy's Line by Red Box, and in a song by Edwyn Collins.
See also 
- Office for National Statistics, 2001 Census, Key statitistics for HCC settlements Usual resident populations
- Maurice de Soissons, Welwyn Garden City, Cambridge, Publications for Companies, 1988
- Review of C. B. Purdom, The Building of Satellite Towns, J.M. Dent & Sons Ltd, 1925
- Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council
- Welwyn Garden City Conservation Area Appraisal 2006.
- The Times, Saturday, January 3, 1948, p. 5
- North London Flying School
- David Schuyler, From Garden City to Green City: The Legacy of Ebenezer Howard, Johns Hopkins, 2002
- Parish Councils
- Parish councils
- There was a Welwyn Garden City Parish Council from 1921-27, before the creation of the Welwyn Garden City Urban District Council. National Archives
- "Averages for Welwyn Garden City".
- Tesco scheme for Broadwater Road http://www.broadwaterroad.com
- School Index
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