Welwyn Garden City

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Coordinates: 51°48′22″N 0°11′36″W / 51.8062°N 0.1932°W / 51.8062; -0.1932

Welwyn Garden City
The Parkway Fountain.jpg
View to the northwest from the Parkway Fountain
Welwyn Garden City is located in Hertfordshire
Welwyn Garden City
Welwyn Garden City
 Welwyn Garden City shown within Hertfordshire
Population 43,252 [1]
OS grid reference TL245135
    - London  20 mi (32 km) 
District Welwyn Hatfield
Shire county Hertfordshire
Region East
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town WELWYN GARDEN CITY
Postcode district AL7, AL8
Dialling code 01707
Police Hertfordshire
Fire Hertfordshire
Ambulance East of England
EU Parliament East of England
UK Parliament Welwyn Hatfield
List of places
UK
England
Hertfordshire

Welwyn Garden City /ˈwɛlɪn/, also known locally as "WGC" or "Welwyn Garden", is a town within the Borough of Welwyn Hatfield in Hertfordshire, England. It is located approximately 19 miles (31 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.

History[edit]

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"[2]

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.[2] The first house was occupied just before Christmas 1920.[3]

The town is laid out along tree-lined boulevards with a neo-Georgian town centre.[4] It has its own environmental protection legislation, the Scheme of Management for Welwyn Garden City.[5] 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.[6] Older houses are on the west side of Parkway and newer houses on the east side[4]

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.[2] Commercial pressures have since ensured much more competition and variety, and the Welwyn Stores were in 1984 taken over by the John Lewis Partnership.

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.

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."[7] 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.[2]

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.

A shopping mall, the Howard Centre, was built in the 1980s, incorporating the original railway station.

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.[8]

Roman baths are preserved in a steel vault underneath junction 6 of the A1(M) and are open to visitors.[4]

The local civic society, which aims to preserve and conserve the garden city ethos, is the Welwyn Garden City Society.

Famous Welwyn Garden City former and current residents include S*M*A*S*H (Band), The Subways, Artist Damien Hirst, Nick Faldo (golfer), Rolling Stones' and Mick Taylor.

Governance[edit]

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[9] and the village of Welwyn[10] have parish councils with limited responsibilities, but Welwyn Garden City has none.[11]

Geography[edit]

Welwyn Garden City experiences an oceanic climate (Köppen climate classification Cfb) similar to almost all of the United Kingdom.

Climate data for Welwyn Garden City
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 8
(46)
9
(48)
12
(54)
14
(57)
18
(64)
21
(70)
23
(73)
23
(73)
20
(68)
16
(61)
11
(52)
8
(46)
15
(59)
Average low °C (°F) 5
(41)
5
(41)
6
(43)
8
(46)
10
(50)
13
(55)
15
(59)
16
(61)
13
(55)
11
(52)
8
(46)
5
(41)
10
(50)
Precipitation mm (inches) 50.7
(1.996)
39.9
(1.571)
31.7
(1.248)
46.2
(1.819)
38.9
(1.531)
46.4
(1.827)
33.1
(1.303)
43.6
(1.717)
49.7
(1.957)
70.7
(2.783)
58.1
(2.287)
56.9
(2.24)
565.9
(22.28)
Source: [12]

Economy[edit]

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:

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 store planning.

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.[2] 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 applied to build a new supermarket on the site but planning permission was refused by the local authority in January 2012 after significant public protest.[14]

The former supermarket chain Fine Fare had its head office in the town at one time, as did ICI's Plastics Division.

There is now a redeveloped and enlarged Sainsburys in the town centre, and a Morrisons in Panshanger along Black Fan Road.

Welwyn Garden City's proximity to London makes it a convenient commuter town.

Transport[edit]

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 653 also provide links to the University of Hertfordshire with the 601 leaving Welwyn Garden City station every 30 minutes on weekdays only and the 653 leaving every 20 minutes on weekdays and Saturdays.

Green Line Coaches 724 runs a service from Welwyn Garden City to Heathrow Airport, stopping at stops such as Watford and Rickmansworth.

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, and every 30 minutes south to London Kings Cross and north to Cambridge with a weekend service of every 30 minutes on Saturday and Sunday south to London's Kings Cross and north to Hitchin and Stevenage and Cambridge.

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.

Education[edit]

Welwyn Garden City has five secondary schools:

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.[15]

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[edit]

The Gosling Sports Centre in the town houses a dry ski slope, golf driving range, indoor and outdoor tennis, squash, football pitches, an athletics track, velodrome, a gym and bowls.

The local Welwyn Garden City football team founded in 1921 are known as the Citizens are based in Herns Lane. 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 town also has a rugby club called Welwyn RFC. There is also a well known cricket and bowls club.

The Stanborough Park and lakes is the venue for a free annual Water Carnival and firework display and a 5 November fireworks display, both of which attracted large crowds from great distances.

There is an airfield at Panshanger, currently used by the North London Flying School.[16]

Popular culture[edit]

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 (Various public houses around the town)

Scenes in the film Battle of Britain were shot at Panshanger Aerodrome, and the film of Graham Greene's Brighton Rock was made at the Associated British Picture Corporation's Welwyn Garden City studios.

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.

Famous People[edit]

Famous People who where born in Welwyn Garden City.

Una Stubbs was born on May 1, 1937 in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire, England. She is an actress, known for Sherlock (2010), Till Death Us Do Part (1965) and The Wind in the Willows (1983).

Aiden Turner was born on April 2, 1977 in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire, England as Aiden John Turner. He is an actor, known for All My Children (1970), The Perfect Boyfriend (2013) and To Have and to Hold (2014). He has been married to Megan Marshall since April 8, 2005. They have one child.

Alesha Dixon was born on October 7, 1978 in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire, England as Alesha Anjanette Dixon. Alesha is an English singer, dancer, rapper, model and television presenter. She found fame in the all-female R&B/garage trio Mis-Teeq

Lisa Snowdon was born in January 23 1971 in Welwyn Garden City, England as Lisa Snawdon. British television personality, presenter, and fashion model. She was the host of the Living TV reality television show Britain's Next Top Model from 2006 until 2009. She currently co-presents Capital Breakfast on Capital London. The eldest of three sisters, she moved to London where she worked briefly as a waitress. A graduate of the Italia Conti School of Performing Arts, Lisa was spotted by a model agency at age 19 while in a London nightclub.

Richard Dempsey was born on May 16, 1974 in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire, England. He is an actor, known for Royal Deceit (1994), The Barber of Siberia (1998) and The Lion, the Witch, & the Wardrobe (1988).

Nick Faldo was born on July 18, 1957 in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire, England as Nicholas Alexander Faldo. English professional golfer on the European Tour, now mainly an on-air golf analyst.

David James was born on August 1, 1970 in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire, England as David Benjamin James. Former England goalkeeper. James is third on the list of all-time Premier League appearances, having played in 536 games at the top-level. James also holds the Premier League record for most clean sheets, with 173. He was capped 53 times by England between 1997 and 2010, and was first choice goalkeeper during the team's Euro 2004 and the 2010 World Cup campaigns. He was awarded an MBE in the 2012 Birthday Honours for services to football and charity.

Did you know?[edit]

  • For 85 years there were no roads in the town with the word street in their name in Welwyn Garden City until a mistake led to the naming of the short Layton Street to the south of the town in 2005.
  • The fountain at Parkway in the heart of the town centre was built for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953.
  • In November 2006, a Japanese company, NSCP, visited the town and were impressed enough with its layout to name a new 144-house development near Tokyo Welwyn Garden Village after the town.
  • Until recently, there were no houses numbered 13 in the town. The exclusion of this number was due in part to the superstitions of the towns founders and continued as tradition.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Office for National Statistics, 2001 Census, Key statitistics for HCC settlements Usual resident populations
  2. ^ a b c d e Maurice de Soissons, Welwyn Garden City, Cambridge, Publications for Companies, 1988
  3. ^ Review of C. B. Purdom, The Building of Satellite Towns, J.M. Dent & Sons Ltd, 1925
  4. ^ a b c Hertfordshire.com
  5. ^ Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council
  6. ^ Welwyn Garden City Conservation Area Appraisal 2006.
  7. ^ The Times, Saturday, January 3, 1948, p. 5
  8. ^ David Schuyler, From Garden City to Green City: The Legacy of Ebenezer Howard, Johns Hopkins, 2002
  9. ^ Parish Councils
  10. ^ Parish councils
  11. ^ There was a Welwyn Garden City Parish Council from 1921-27, before the creation of the Welwyn Garden City Urban District Council. National Archives
  12. ^ "Averages for Welwyn Garden City". 
  13. ^ "Xerox Ltd". http://www.ihertfordshire.co.uk. ihertfordshire. Retrieved 2 February 2014. 
  14. ^ Tesco scheme for Broadwater Road http://www.broadwaterroad.com
  15. ^ School Index
  16. ^ North London Flying School

External links[edit]