Baldock: Wikis

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Coordinates: 51°59′23″N 0°11′20″W / 51.9896°N 0.1888°W / 51.9896; -0.1888

Baldock
Baldock High St 1.jpg
Baldock High Street - before regeneration
Baldock is located in Hertfordshire
Baldock

 Baldock shown within Hertfordshire
Population 9,900 
OS grid reference TL247337
District North Hertfordshire
Shire county Hertfordshire
Region East
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town BALDOCK
Postcode district SG7
Dialling code 01462
Police Hertfordshire
Fire Hertfordshire
Ambulance East of England
EU Parliament East of England
UK Parliament North East Hertfordshire
List of places: UK • England • Hertfordshire

Baldock is a town in the local government district of North Hertfordshire in the ceremonial county of Hertfordshire, England where the River Ivel rises. It lies 33 miles (53 km) north of London, 15 miles (24 km) southwest of Bedford, and 14 miles (23 km) north northwest of the county town of Hertford. Nearby towns include Letchworth and Hitchin to the southwest and Stevenage to the south.

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History

Baldock was founded by the Knights Templar (also the name of the town's secondary school) in the 1140s[citation needed]. Perhaps for this reason, one theory of the origin of the name Baldock is as a derivation from the Old French name for Baghdad: Baldac[1] which the Templars had hoped to conquer during the crusades. Other theories include that the name is derived from "Bald Oak", meaning a dead oak.[citation needed] The modern layout of the town, and many buildings in the centre, date from the sixteenth century[citation needed], with the earliest dating from the fourteenth century[citation needed].

The town grew up where the old Great North Road and the Icknield Way crossed. Despite the construction of the A1(M) motorway in 1970, which bypassed the town (and which was called the Baldock Bypass for some years), it was still a major traffic bottleneck until March 2006, when a new bypass removed the A505 road (old Icknield Way) from the town.

Due to its location, the town was a major staging post between London and the north: many old coaching inns still operate as pubs and hotels, and Baldock has a surprising number of pubs for its size. From the 1770s until 2008 the high street was very wide[citation needed], a typical feature of medieval market places where more than one row of buildings used to stand. In the case of Baldock, the bottom of the High Street had three such rows, until Butcher's Row was demolished by the Turnpike authorities in the 1770s. In late 2008, a town centre enhancement plan included a narrowing of the road and subsequent widening of paved areas.[2]

Baldock has since the 16th century been a centre for malting, subsequently becoming a regional brewing centre with at least three large brewers still operating at the end of the 19th Century, despite a decline in demand for the types of beer produced locally. The 1881 Census records approximately 30 drinking establishments (the town's population was at that time around 1900). Throughout the early 20th century a large number of pubs continued to operate, many of which were sustained by the adjacent and much larger town of Letchworth, which had no alcohol retailers prior to 1958, and had only two pubs and a single hotel bar until the mid 1990s. Its larger population had for many years visited both Baldock and Hitchin for refreshment.

Since 1850 the town has a railway station which today operates on the line between London Kings Cross and Cambridge. With frequent services to London, including fast services of around 30 minutes, the town is today home to many commuters.

There has been human activity on the site well before the modern town was founded. Prehistoric remains on Clothall Common dates back as far as c 3000 BCE[citation needed]. Many Roman remains have been discovered during building work in and around the town, and the core of the Roman settlement is on Walls Field near the Hartsfield Primary School in the town. Earlier Iron Age remains have also been uncovered in the same general location, which may be the earliest town ever to develop in Britain.

A medieval leper colony, on Royston Road, was located during excavations in 2003, having been thought for many years to lie to the south-east of the town on the former Pesthouse Lane (now Clothall Road), the A507.

From 1808 to 1814, Baldock hosted a station in the shutter telegraph chain that connected the Admiralty in London to its naval ships in the port of Great Yarmouth.

An authoritative history of "Baldock's Middle Ages" (ISBN 0-905858-97-2) was compiled by Vivian Crellin, a former headmaster of the Knights Templar School, while local archaeologists Keith Fitzpatrick-Matthews and Gilbert Burleigh published 'Ancient Baldock: the story of an Iron Age and Roman town' in 2007.

Baldock's positions at the crossing of two ancient thoroughfares, the Great North Road and the Icknield Way has made it a stopping point for a number of illustrious visitors, supposedly including Charles I and Dick Turpin. However, perhaps one of the town's most famous visitors was Ludwig II of Bavaria, (builder of the famous Neuschwanstein Castle) who came to the town in 1879 on the recommendation of Sir Richard Wallace, to whom he had written for advice on England's medieval architecture.[3] Wallace advised Ludwig to take a tour of the English countryside in order to survey a variety of ecclesiastical buildings, that he might draw inspiration from them for future building projects. In a letter to Wallace, Ludwig expressed particular admiration for the buildings of Hertfordshire, which he toured extensively. It is thought that Ludwig intended to use the tower of St Mary's Church as a model for a planned castle construction at Pfronten.[4]

In the 1960/70s Baldock was a centre of Laser research at a MOD laboratory called SERL (Services Electronics Research Laboratory). This facility closed in the late 1970s and some projects and staff were transferred to RSRE (Royal Signals & Radar Establishment) near Pershore.

Baldock Tesco.jpg

Baldock was formerly the location of a film processing factory which folded before the company (originally based in Letchworth Garden City) could move in; local folklore has it that it was a silent film studio, but this is not the case.[citation needed] The building was then bought by the Full-Fashioned Hosiery Company from Halifax, later becoming the Kayser Bondor ladies stocking factory (which temporarily produced parachutes during World War II). Its Art Deco facade still stands as the largest Listed Building in the town; it was converted to a Tesco supermarket in the late 1980s. Another notable building in the town is the thirteenth century Baldock Parish Church of St. Mary. Malting and brewing were formerly major industries in the town, but apart from some light industry, today it is mostly a commuter town.

In the past few years, many businesses have shut down in Baldock. Baldock lost its local football side, Baldock Town F.C. in 2001, after nearly a 100 years of existence.

Located to the east of the town there is a large residential estate built in several phases. This is known as Clothall Common. Some residents are lobbying to have one green space given village green status. A significant archeological dig took place in this part of Baldock in the late 80's.

Baldock in literature

In Agatha Christie's Poirot Investigates (1924), a collection of short stories about her fictional detective Hercule Poirot, Christie writes that in The Case of the Missing Will, Poirot is late for an appointment in Cambridge when his car breaks down in Baldock.[5]

The events of Porcupine Tree's song "Heartattack in a Layby" from their In Absentia album takes place in a layby, according to the protagonist, "east of Baldock and Ashford". The band were formed in frontman Steven Wilson's hometown of Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire.

Education

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Primary education

  • St Mary's Junior Mixed School
  • Hartsfield Junior Mixed and Infant School
  • St John Roman Catholic Primary School

Secondary education

Nearby villages

See also

References

  1. ^ Eilert Ekwall (1981). The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Place-names. Oxford [Eng.]: OUP. pp. 24. ISBN 0-19-869103-3. 
  2. ^ http://www.north-herts.gov.uk/index/planning/planning_policy_and_projects/planning_for_town_centres/baldock_town_centre_strategy/baldock_town_centre_enhancement.htm
  3. ^ Mallett, Donald (1979). The greatest collector: Lord Hertford and the founding of the Wallace Collection. London [Eng.]: Macmillan. pp. 154. ISBN 0-33-324467-2. 
  4. ^ Blunt, Wilfrid (1970). The dream-king, Ludwig II of Bavaria. New York [Eng.]: Viking. pp. 121. 
  5. ^ Christie, Agatha Poirot Investigates Published by Harpercollins (January 1992) ISBN 0-06-100287-9

External links


Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Contents

Baldock is a town in Hertfordshire, England.

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South Farm - local wedding venue that's distinctly different - [1]

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