Why it's time to move to Letchworth

PUBLISHED: 07:46 11 January 2012 | UPDATED: 20:53 20 February 2013

Howard Cottage homes are distinctive with their cream exteriors and green sills and doors

Howard Cottage homes are distinctive with their cream exteriors and green sills and doors

Letchworth has been on the map since the days of the Domesday Book but it is best known as the garden city with a series of record-breaking firsts to its credit...

WHEN building began on the new development in 1903, Letchworth was the worlds first garden city.

On the plan, the land surrounding the town centre was designated for agriculture a few decades down the line it became the first identifiable tract of Green Belt.

Within the road system was a roundabout what locals now know as Sollershott Circus was Britains first ever roundabout.

Once the infrastructure was underway and the focus switched to housing, two exhibitions were held to promote the design of affordable cottages.

This fresh-air plan to create hundreds of new homes in a green environment for the overspill from London at the beginning of the 20th century was inspired by a blueprint for future urban design produced in 1898 by the great social reformer of the Victorian age, Ebenezer Howard.

He believed the way forward was to create communities where residents could enjoy the best of both town and country lifestyles. He eschewed the idea it had to be one or the other.

Getting about

Rail: The train journey from Letchworth station to Kings Cross takes 35 minutes.

Road: Letchworth is 1.6 miles from Baldock town centre, 3.4 miles from Hitchin and 5.5 miles from Stevenage.

Air: Luton is 10.5 miles away.


Letchworth has two state comprehensives and two independents. This years GCSE results at Highfield School were the best ever 83 per cent of Year 11s achieved at least five A*-Cs. The vast majority of A-level students are now at their first choice uni.

Both private schools St Christopher School, a co-ed for 3-18 year olds and the girls school St Francis College which also has a prep department are well regarded.


As well as a wealth of local pubs and restaurants in the town and its surrounding villages, pay a visit to The Broadway Cinema which is in a refurbished art deco building and has four screens.

Plinston Hall is the place for live gigs, wedding receptions, conferences and other knees-ups.

North Herts Leisure Centre has an indoor pool with waves, sauna, squash court, multi-purpose sports hall and health studio. Letchworth Golf Club was established in 1911 as a nine-hole layout but since 2003 it has been a 6,459 yd par 71 course.

The cricket club was formed two years after the original houses were built. There are womens teams as well as mens. The tennis club has facilities for squash and croquet too.

The Morris Men meet on Thursday evenings from October to April to add new dances to the repertoire.

Where to take visitors

First Garden City Heritage Museum, filled with Arts and Crafts furniture, is in the building originally built in 1907 as an office for Barry Parker, one of the Garden City founding architects.

Theres also an art gallery and a working farm the farm has shire horses and birds, and cows that oblige for milking sessions.

You might spot a black squirrel on Norton Common, the 63 acres identified on the original plan as a peoples park.

How much to live here

Satchells has first time buyer flats in Letchworth starting at around 100,000.

Typical examples:

Two-bed top floor flat with lounge, kitchen/diner, entry phone and garage 110,000.

First floor one-bedroom maisonette with 80ft garden, 20 minutes walk from town centre, 115,000.

Double fronted three-bedroom terrace in the conservation area, 199,950.

Three-bedroom house with planning permission for one bedroom bungalow, 215,000.

Four-bedroom semi built in 1905 on a good sized plot, 375,000.

Five-bedroom, three bath/shower room detached house on third acre plot in one of the best roads in Letchworth close to good state and private schools, 725,000.

Letchworth Garden Citys Howard Cottage Housing Association has just celebrated its 100th birthday. Back in 1911, the town square in Letchworth Garden City was waiting for builders and architects to transform it into the centre of the worlds first garden city.

Howard Cottage Society was one of the UKs first housing associations, and was set up in 1911 to create affordable homes for the workers who had migrated from the cities to take up employment in Letchworth.

Between 1911 and 1916, the Society built a whopping 395 houses at a total cost of 75,000. In keeping with Howards vision, each home came with a long garden so residents could enjoy the fresh air and grow their own fruit and vegetables.

The Howard Cottage homes are easy to identify from their buttermilk paintwork and Buckingham green doors and sills. To mark the centenary, photos have been produced that merge original black and white photos with a colour photo of the same location in Letchworth Garden City today.

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