Area Guide: Stevenage
- Credit: Archant
Since it became the country’s first new town in the mid 20th century, the population of Stevenage has grown and houses there are in high demand.
Part of Stevenage’s appeal is that it is around 29 miles from the centre of London and easy to commute from.
The most desirable areas are in Rectory Lane and Chancellors Park, just outside the Old Town close to Lister Hospital. There is, however, a large range of properties to suit all buyers’ and tenants’ budgets.
Stevenage has a wide range of residents in terms of age and culture and is suitable for families, with many schools, outdoor spaces, entertainment options, supermarkets, sporting opportunities and places to eat and drink.
Teacher Laura Douglas, 37, worked in Stevenage until recently and was impressed by the atmosphere and amenities. She said: “I always loved the friendliness of Stevenage. I worked in the Old Town for several years. It has some beautiful little independent retailers, plenty of parking, a Waitrose and lots of lovely bars. It is like a quaint village.”
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Stevenage has an active network of Christian churches of differing denominations, which work together under the ‘Churches Together In Stevenage’ banner. There is also a mosque and a synagogue in the town.
Formula One racing driver champion Lewis Hamilton MBE is from Stevenage.
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The town is green with avenues of Norway Maple trees and there is a lot of space. As such, the schools have a substantial amount of ground – particularly Ashtree, Moss Bury, Longmeadow and Barnwell schools.
There are lots of schools in Stevenage - a new one opened almost every year between 1955-65 thanks to an influx of Londoners moving to affordable terraces in Shephall, Broadwater, Chells and St Nicholas.
Laura, who now lives in St Albans, has fond memories of her time teaching in a Stevenage-based secondary school. She added: “The people are patriotic and many are proud to be there. A high proportion of the population are of London heritage, as the new town re-housed many cockneys. It has a genuine touch of Albert Square about it!”
Stevenage is served by the A1(M) motorway and the A602, which connects it to Hitchin, Watton-at-Stone, Hertford and Ware. The old Great North Road passes through the town centre and the Old Town’s High Street has pubs that were coaching inns. It is now classified as the B197.
Several bus operators run in and around the town and there is a main railway station on the East Coast Main Line, which puts on frequent commuter services to London and Cambridge, as well as connections to the North and Scotland.
Food and drink
As you would expect from a large modern town, there are big well-known brands of restaurants and a range of smaller eateries, such as The Fish & Chip Shop, Lambert’s Grill, Sala Thong, Mack’s Pie & Mash and Gladleys Courtyard Brasserie.
Pubs include The Fisherman, known for tasty nicely presented meals with generous portions, The Jolly Waggoner – serving meat from neighbouring Church Farm - and The George and Dragon with its small but well-kept selection of real ales and great food.
Sport and leisure
King George’s Field, named after King George V, is used for cricket and bowls and was the pitch Stevenage FC used to play on. Stevenage Leisure Centre has many sports facilities and is home to the Gordon Craig Theatre.
A David Lloyd gym offers fitness classes, a swimming pool and spa. There is a basketball team called Stevenage Scorpions, a rugby club and a women’s football team.
In the town centre, there is a 27-mile circuit walk known as STOOP (Stevenage Outer Orbital Path), which provides an informal recreational leisure amenity.
Fairlands Valley is a large area of parkland with boating lakes and Monks and Whomerley Woods boasting ancient semi-natural woodland. Stevenage Leisure Park has a cinema, clubs and restaurants.