Letchworth Garden City
Letchworth Garden City receives visitors from all over the world who are interested in its unique history and pattern of development. The first “garden city” was founded in 1903, and the concept was exported to many European countries, to America and Japan, where the Emperor developed an interest.
Though perhaps best characterised by its picturesque cottages, grand suburban homes and spacious avenues, Letchworth also contains a cross section of twentieth century town planning in its inter-war and post-war housing estates, which, in accordance with the garden city ideal, keep as much green space as possible.
Much investment in Letchworth is carried out by the Heritage Foundation, a unique institution which is the heir to the original Garden City company. It remains a major landowner and owns a number of the facilities mentioned below. Its constitution requires it to direct its profits to charitable objects within the town.
Modern Letchworth has more to offer than an interesting history. In the centre, Plinston Hall is a popular entertainment venue, there is a refurbished art deco cinema, The Broadway, and the Arts Centre holds a number of arts events and exhibitions in what is claimed to be the largest exhibition space between London and Cambridge.
The shopping centre is currently undergoing a major regeneration. It contains several interesting specialist shops and one main supermarket. There is a retail park on former industrial land between Letchworth and Baldock.
There are two museums, The Letchworth Museum which houses NHDC’s natural history and archaeology collections, and the First Garden City Heritage Museum which specialises in Letchworth’s unique history. Contained within the town are two attractive parks, Howard Park and Norton Common.
Letchworth has a Leisure Centre (1982) which hosts a wide range of sports clubs and there is a fine outdoor swimming pool at Norton Common. The town possesses a wide range of sporting and leisure facilities, including a new tennis club, a golf course and bowls clubs. Its football ground provides the headquarters of Hertfordshire Football Association.
There are two state secondary schools, Fearnhill and Highfield, and two independent schools, St Francis (girls only) and St Christopher.
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