Area Guide: The Hertfordshire town of Letchworth Garden City  

The Spirella building, Letchworth Area Guide. Picture: DANNY LOO

The Spirella building, Letchworth Area Guide. Picture: DANNY LOO - Credit: Picture: DANNY LOO

Britain’s first garden city has retained much of its original early twentieth century appeal. We found out more about this popular part of Hertfordshire. 

Leys Walk, Letchworth Area Guide. Picture: DANNY LOO

Leys Walk, Letchworth Area Guide. Picture: DANNY LOO - Credit: Picture: DANNY LOO

Founded by Ebenezer Howard in 1903, Letchworth Garden City was a new kind of town and country hybrid. 

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 Spirella building, Letchworth Area Guide. Picture: DANNY LOO

The Spirella building, Letchworth Area Guide. Picture: DANNY LOO - Credit: Picture: DANNY LOO

The first garden city is also home to Britain's first ever roundabout, which was built in 1909. 


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Property 

Things are moving fast in the Letchworth market. Picture: DANNY LOO

Some of Letchworth's period homes. - Credit: Picture: DANNY LOO

More than a century on, and many of Letchworth’s attractive suburban streets have retained their original appeal.    

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Homes currently on the market in the town include a seven-bed early garden city house on Norton Way South (£1,075,000) and a two-bed mews property on Norton Road (£200,000).   

The average selling price for a property in Letchworth during the last year was £402,763, an increase of 4 per cent on the 2017 peak of £386,410. 

Travel 

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. 

Housing in Letchworth Garden City. Picture: DANNY LOO

Housing in Letchworth Garden City. Picture: DANNY LOO - Credit: Picture: DANNY LOO

Schools 

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. The 550 pupils wear their own clothes and call teachers by their first names. 

Shops and restaurants 

Letchworth sculpture and fountains, Letchworth Area Guide. Picture: DANNY LOO

Letchworth sculpture and fountains, Letchworth Area Guide. Picture: DANNY LOO - Credit: Picture: DANNY LOO

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.  

The Arcade, Letchworth Area Guide. Picture: DANNY LOO

The Arcade, Letchworth Area Guide. Picture: DANNY LOO - Credit: Picture: DANNY LOO

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 

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. 

A view along Broadway, Letchworth Area Guide. Picture: DANNY LOO

A view along Broadway, Letchworth Area Guide. Picture: DANNY LOO - Credit: Picture: DANNY LOO

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. 

Outside of lockdown, Letchworth has plenty more to offer locals and visitors. For example. The International Garden Cities Exhibition - a celebration of 'Letchworth's legacy and influence on town planning across the world'. 

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. 

This area guide is sponsored by Frost's, who have offices in St Albans, Marshalswick, Wheathampstead and Harpenden...

This area guide is sponsored by Frost's, who have offices in St Albans, Marshalswick, Wheathampstead and Harpenden (www.frosts.co.uk/branches) - Credit: Archant

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. 

Celebrity connections 

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 1918-1924. 

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