Area Guide: Letchworth Garden City
PUBLISHED: 13:44 31 January 2017 | UPDATED: 10:51 01 February 2017
The north Hertfordshire town, 38 miles from the heart of London, is becoming more popular as a place to live and visit.
It is home to the earliest ever roundabout and the location where 2013 film The World’s End (starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost) was set.
Other notable people associated with Letchworth are film director Michael Winner, scientist Magnus Pike and actor Laurence Olivier, whose father was rector of Letchworth Parish (1918-1924).
It is also the residence of one of the UK’s largest colonies of black squirrels and a growing population of muntjac deer.
It has never been busier, according to Tom Hardy, who grew up in Letchworth.
Tom works under the brand Love Letchworth as Business Improvement District (BID) manager. The BID is funded by local businesses and encourages visitors from surrounding areas to see what Letchworth has to offer - which appears to be quite a lot.
Tom said: “I love Letchworth and have seen it grow over time. It’s great to now be a part of those changes. We have seen lots of new shops, cafes and restaurants making their home in the town and doing really well.
“The Love Letchworth events, including the food and drink festival and Town Centre Takeover waterslide, have been a real success and brought a new audience to the town.
“The beer and world food festival was something new for 2016. Letchworth had never seen anything like it before and we can’t wait to hold it again.”
Shops and restaurants
An artisan coffee shop, No 12, recently opened in Leys Avenue, along with Turkish restaurant The Grapevine and Letchworth Acquatics - proof that business owners are looking to set up shop in this thriving town.
Those looking to escape the commercial high street and shop locally have their pick of traditional gift shops and stores stocking vintage items and one-off pieces made by residents in the town.
Tom added: “There are plenty of hidden gems in The Wynd and The Arcade; both are filled with independent shops, such as the Garden City Brewery, which has become a favourite among locals since it opened its doors this year.”
For entertainment, there is family fun for all ages. Festive Saturdays throughout December included Christmas crafts, reindeer and even a giant snow globe. They follow what Tom describes as “the most successful Christmas light switch on yet, which saw a packed Leys Square and thousands of people enjoying the food and drink stalls and entertainment”.
There’s a mainline train station, regular bus services throughout the town, including to rural and residential areas as well as neighbouring Hitchin and Baldock. Several taxi firms are in operation and it’s not too tricky to get to the southern-based major airports - the most local being London Luton Airport but you can drive to Stansted in under an hour.
Letchworth benefits from several sought-after schools, including Ofsted-rated ‘good’ The Highfield School and fee-paying boarding St Christopher School, where pupils wear their own clothes, eat vegetarian food and call teachers by their first names.
With loads of parking (800 spaces in the town centre alone), average terraced house prices of just over £262,000 and impressive North Herts Leisure Centre with its 34m swimming pool, flume, gym, squash courts, sauna and cafe, it’s not difficult to see why Letchworth is attractive to buyers, renters and visitors.
And as the mighty George Orwell predicted in his polemic essay on wartime Britain: “The place to look for the gems of the future England is in light-industry areas and along the arterial roads. In Slough, Dagenham, Barnet, Letchworth… The old pattern is gradually changing intro something new.”
More information about Letchworth life and events can be found at www.loveletchworth.com or via Facebook and Twitter.