Area Guide: Letchworth, England's first garden city
- Credit: Picture: DANNY LOO
Famed for being the first garden city, Letchworth continues to blend the best of town and country living. We found out more about this Hertfordshire hotspot...
Letchworth Garden City was founded in 1903 by Ebenezer Howard. Designed to bring together the best of both worlds while also providing improved housing for the poor, it was formed following the publication of Howard’s influential book, To-morrow: A Peaceful Path to Real Reform.
Many of the Exhibition Cottages from 1905 and 1907 remain, and the Grade II* listed Spirella Building is another local landmark.
The first garden city is also home to Britain's first ever roundabout, which was built in 1909.
More than a century on, and many of Letchworth’s attractive suburban streets have retained their original appeal.
Homes currently on the market in the town include a four-bed early garden city cottage on Norton Road (£1.25m) and a brand new two-bed apartment on Leys Avenue in the town centre (£300,000).
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The average selling price for a property in Letchworth during the last year was £380,183.
Fast trains from Letchworth Garden City station connect to London King's Cross in half an hour and road links are similarly good, with the A1(M) running right alongside the town.
There are also regular bus services, 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 at their last inspections.
St Christopher School is a fee-paying day and boarding school for children aged three to 18, founded in 1915. Known as St Chris, its 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.
Those looking to escape the commercial high street and support local indies have their pick of a great selection of traditional gift shops and stores stocking vintage items and one-off pieces.
Sport and leisure
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.
Howard Park also has a refreshments kiosk and a paddling pool, while Broadway Gardens, designed in 2003, is a beautifully landscaped open space in the town centre which is home to an eye-catching fountain.
Letchworth's heated 50m outdoor pool, located on the edge of Norton Common, is well worth a visit in the summer months. It has a toddler's pool, refreshments and free parking and is 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.
For entertainment, there's the four-screen Broadway Cinema, an Art Deco gem built in 1936. There's also the Broadway Studio and Gallery art exhibition space and a handful of other independent galleries, plus regular farmers' markets and vintage fairs.
2013 film The World's End, starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, was filmed in the town. Other notable people associated with Letchworth are film director Michael Winner and actor Laurence Olivier, whose father was rector of Letchworth Parish between 1918 and 1924.