There's more to Hertford than history
PUBLISHED: 18:47 26 October 2010 | UPDATED: 18:05 20 February 2013
Scratch the surface in Hertford and you find it teaming with welcoming clubs, as Damion Roberts discovers
HERTFORD is a historic and scenic town at the confluence of four river valleys with a market town centre which is a largely well-preserved conservation area.
The town was founded in the seventh century and used to be an important agricultural centre with its close proximity to London a contributing factor.
Among its principal tourist attractions is a Grade I listed castle which houses the town council and the Grade II listed Seed Warehouse in Maidenhead Yard, but the town is anything but a living museum.
It is vibrant, colourful and artistic, and has a promising and large sporting community with Hertford Hockey Club one of those clubs which is proving popular with local residents.
The club not only has eight adult teams (four mens, four ladies) but it also has such a large number of youth members that they have to be split into two groups, as club secretary Claire Rollins explains.
Weve got such a strong junior section with about 120 youngsters taking part, Claire said.
Its getting so busy we now have to split the groups on a Saturday morning so we can teach them all and get them all involved. We have members from the ages of five and above and its really taken off these past few years.
The club is 22 years old this year and is based at Mangrove Road while the teams play their hockey at an Astro pitch at Simon Balle School.
Its more of a social club, Claire tells Hertfordshire Life. Our top teams play in the East of England leagues but weve such a wide range of teams and were quite a family club with lots of brothers and sisters and some parents as well.
In terms of sport its very similar to football in terms of how you play and people really enjoy it.
Our oldest players are in their 50s but I think they enjoy playing with the colt teams because they can stand still or stroll around and let the youngsters do the running.
Across town Thomas Metz helps to run Hartham Masters Swimming Club which has a membership aged from 16 to 80 plus.
The club secretary told Hertfordshire Life how the club caters for swimmers who are looking to improve their technique.
Weve been going for about 15 years and are a masters club for swimmers aged over 16 and weve got about 40 members, said Thomas, who has been with the club for more than three years.
We are here for people who want to carry on swimming or those who may have enjoyed swimming in the past and who may now want to carry on, get back into the pool and improve their technique.
Swimming is a good exercise and within the club there is tuition and we have some swimmers who swim with us on a Saturday and Hertford Swimming Club on Thursdays.
A few also go open water swimming and practise down at Redrick Lake near Sawbridgeworth and some of them took part in the Great East Swim and Great London Swim this year.
The club hosts annual competitions and took part in this years Masters Competition competing alongside clubs from Hertfordshire where it finished third.
We were third from 11 but we get extra points for our older swimmers finishing so were pleased weve got a few of them, said Thomas.
Another club which has a wide-ranging membership is Hertford and District Camera Club.
Stuart Neale, the 39-year-old syllabus secretary, said the club, which celebrates its 60th anniversary next year, has seen its membership increase in recent years while the average age of its members has fallen.
Were a group of local people who have an interest in the same hobby and we have talks about various aspects of photography as well as competitions with other clubs and among ourselves.
Were open to anyone aged from 16 onwards and our membership is looking good, though the average age is actually getting younger.
A couple of years ago the average age was at the retired age but now its about 45 as more and more people are starting to get into digital photography and we now have members who are in the sixth form.
Stuart, who has been a member since the mid-1990s, said the club is less about instructional advice although that is available and more about getting a group of photographers together to discuss one of their hobbies with likeminded people.
We often have talks by people who have gone abroad and taken photos and we are able to answer queries from people but this is more about taking photos, discussing photography and we even have fun evenings with local clubs where we show rubbish photographs and its just good fun.
The club meets at St Johns Hall, Churchfields, and runs from September to May and anyone interested in joining can visit the website www.hdcc.org.uk
All singing, all dancing
CASTLE Hall arts venue in Hertford is undergoing a radical refurbishment to transform it into the new Hertford Theatre. The ambitious project by East Herts Council got underway at the end of June and includes the demolition of some of the outdated parts of the building to make way for the extensive changes.
The work includes an overhaul of the theatre hall and river room and the new venue will have a caf, bar, dance and exercise studio as well as an art gallery.
Cllr Linda Haysey, executive member for community development, leisure and culture, was on hand to see the diggers begin work. Linda says, The work is very exciting. When the venue re-opens as Hertford Theatre it will also feature a brand new cinema quality film programme and professional pantomime to make the most of the newly revamped facilities and attract more visitors.
Keep up with the progress at www.hertfordtheatre.com
The new Hertford Theatre will host its first pantomime when Cinderella runs from December 10 to January 2. Tickets are on sale at the Tourist Information Office on 01992 531500.