Area Guide: Letchworth, the world’s first garden city
- Credit: Picture: DANNY LOO
Founded by Ebenezer Howard in 1903, we found out more about this fascinating part of Hertfordshire.
Letchworth Garden City came into being at the turn of the last century following the publication of Ebenezer Howard's book, To-morrow: A Peaceful Path to Real Reform.
Howard believed that a network of garden cities would bring together the best of town and country life while providing improved housing for the poor. Many of the Exhibition Cottages from 1905 and 1907 remain, while the Grade II* listed Spirella Building is another local landmark.
Letchworth is also home to Britain's first ever roundabout, which was built in 1909.
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The average selling price for a property in Letchworth during the last year was £377,449, placing it on a par with nearby Hitchin (£406,589).
Homes currently on the market in the town include a six-bed semi with pool on Sollershott East for £1,175,000 and a two-bed detached bungalow on Redhoods Way for £450,000.
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Fast trains from Letchworth Garden City station connect to London King's Cross in half an hour. There are also regular bus services throughout the town, including to rural and residential areas as well as neighbouring Hitchin and Baldock.
Letchworth benefits from several popular schools, including Pixmore Junior School, Hillshott Infant School and Nursery and The Highfield School, which were all rated 'good' by Ofsted.
St Christopher School is a fee-paying day and boarding school for children aged three to 18. The 550 pupils wear their own clothes and call teachers by their first names.
Shops and restaurants
Popular eateries include garden centre cafe The Potting Shed, Turkish restaurant The Grapevine and L'Artista, a much-loved Italian.
The Wynd and The Arcade are filled with independent shops, such as the Garden City Brewery, which serves a mix of its own brews alongside guest ales, local ciders, wines and spirits. Dogs are welcome and bonios are provided free of charge!
Those looking to escape the commercial high street and shop locally have their pick of a great selection of traditional gift shops and stores stocking vintage items and one-off pieces made by residents in the town.
Sport and leisure
The International Garden Cities Exhibition is a celebration of 'Letchworth's legacy and influence on town planning across the world'.
Norton Common is peaceful park a short walk from the town centre. It has a nature reserve, two play areas, a skateboard facility a couple of bowling greens and a multi-use games area.
Popular with dog-walkers, the 63-acre site is home to one of the UK's largest colonies of black squirrels and a growing population of Muntjac deer.
Letchworth Outdoor Pool, on the edge of Norton Common, is worth a visit in the summer months.
The heated 50m pool has a toddler's pool, refreshments and free parking. It's also available for private hire.
North Herts Leisure Centre, with its 34m swimming pool, flume, gym, squash courts, sauna and café is another great asset to the local area.
Howard Park also has a refreshments kiosk and a paddling pool for little ones while Broadway Gardens, designed in 2003, is a beautifully landscaped open space in the town centre which is home to an eye-catching fountain.
For entertainment, there's the four-screen Broadway Cinema, the Broadway Studio and Gallery art exhibition space and a handful of other independent galleries. There are also regular farmers' markets and vintage fairs.
2013 film The World's End, starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, was filmed in the town and other notable people associated with Letchworth are film director Michael Winner and actor Laurence Olivier, whose father was rector of Letchworth Parish between 1918-1924.