Getting to know Welwyn Garden City
PUBLISHED: 14:29 22 March 2010 | UPDATED: 16:56 20 February 2013
Damion Roberts discovers a wealth of things to keep visitors and residents occupied in the county's second garden city
WHEN formulating plans for his second garden city after his founding of Letchworth in 1903, Ebenezer Howard put together blueprints for a town designed for healthy living just 15 miles south of his original conception.
Some 90 years after his second project was completed, Welwyn Garden City still stands as a vibrant embodiment of everything Howard had envisaged and remains a popular destination for shoppers and fun seekers.
The centre of the town remains a green, lively and pleasant land with cultured, landscaped gardens and beautiful tree-lined roads while accommodating the hustle and bustle of modern day living with a busy, contemporary shopping centre, fun filled leisure activities and a heaving music scene.
Away from the centre of the town, the 126-acre Stanborough Park with its water sports and outdoor pursuits has enough to keep any family entertained for the whole day, while dotted around the outskirts of the town there are three golf courses where enthusiasts can enjoy a relaxing game of 18 holes at their own leisurely pace.
Did you know?
- For 85 years there were no roads in the town with the word street in their name in Welwyn Garden City until a mistake led to the naming of the short Layton Street to the south of the town in 2005.
- The fountain at Parkway in the heart of the town centre was built for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953.
- In November 2006, a Japanese company, NSCP, visited the town and were impressed enough with its layout to name a new 144-house development near Tokyo Welwyn Garden Village after the town.
- Until recently, there were no houses numbered 13 in the town. The exclusion of this number was due in part to the superstitions of the towns founders and continued as tradition.
- Famous Welwyn GC people include Strictly Come Dancing queen Alesha Dixon, England and Portsmouth goalkeeper David James and one of English golfs favourite sons, the six-time major winner Nick Faldo.
Things to see and do
The only purpose-built skating rink in the county, RollerCity is a popular venue located in the same Campus West building which is also home to the Campus West Theatre and the towns cinema.
Ideal for a fun birthday bash or a social afternoon with skate-loving friends, the complex can facilitate roller discos, family skating days and even skate parties.
The venue is busy and brings in skaters from across the three counties who are able to enjoy a family-friendly atmosphere, so if you want to book a party youd better get your skates on.
Welwyn Roman Baths
The Roman Baths are preserved in a steel vault located within the A1 motorway embankment and display the remnants of a Roman bath-house which was part of a villa complex built 1,700 years ago.
The baths offer an absorbing and educational insight into Roman life and how they bathed and displays from the villa and its environment show how people lived and worked in the countryside in the third century.
There is a small charge for adults, while children under 16 can get in for free.
Straddling Bessemer Road and Digswell Park Road is the unmistakable Digswell Viaduct.
More than 1,500 feet long and 100 feet high, the brick and clay viaduct was built over two years in the middle of the 19th century and comprises 49 arches, carrying the East Coast Main Line over the River Mimram.
It was designed by Lewis Cubitt, built between 1848-50 and officially opened in August 1850. The structure has one track each for trains going north and south and is an imposing and impressive structure standing alone in the town in height stakes.
Set in 126 acres of striking parkland, Stanborough Park is a unique outdoor location on the south west outskirts of Welwyn Garden City.
In addition to picturesque vistas, the site also caters for recreational activities ranging from water-based canoeing, sailing and windsurfing to walking, angling and picnicking for those who prefer to keep their feet firmly on dry land.
The Watersports Centre offers beginner sessions for those wishing to try a new activity in addition to fun activity days and team building events.
The Howard Centre
Not only is the Howard Centre the main shopping complex in the town, it is also the building by which the railway station is located making it perfect for those die-hard shoppers who spend hours pounding the shop floors and need the comfort of a short journey to the railway station afterwards for their journey home.
The centre contains almost 50 shop premises with big name stores, smaller outlets and numerous coffee shops and is conveniently located right in the heart of the town.