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Coordinates: 51°48′22″N 0°11′36″W / 51.8062°N 0.1932°W / 51.8062; -0.1932

Welwyn Garden City
Parkway Fountain.jpg
Welwyn Garden City is located in Hertfordshire
Welwyn Garden City

 Welwyn Garden City shown within Hertfordshire
Population 43,252 [1]
OS grid reference TL245135
    - London  20 mi (32 km) 
District Welwyn Hatfield
Shire county Hertfordshire
Region East
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Postcode district AL7, AL8, EN6
Dialling code 01707
Police Hertfordshire
Fire Hertfordshire
Ambulance East of England
EU Parliament East of England
UK Parliament Welwyn Hatfield
List of places: UK • England • Hertfordshire

Welwyn Garden City (pronounced /ˈwɛlɪn/) (also refferred to as Welwyn Garden or Welwyn) is a town within the Welwyn Hatfield borough of Hertfordshire, England. It is located approximately 20 miles (32 km) from Charing Cross and approximately 10 miles (16 km) from the London Borough of Barnet and the London Borough of Enfield. Welwyn Garden City was the second garden city in England (founded 1920) and one of the first new towns (designated 1948).

It is unique in being both a garden city and a new town and exemplifies the physical, social and cultural planning ideals of the periods in which it was built. Because of its historical importance it attracts visitors from around the world.

Welwyn Garden City is in close proximity to London, both the border and the City of London, making it ideal as a Commuter town with strong links into the city and to surrounding areas.



Welwyn Garden City was founded by Sir Ebenezer Howard in the 1920s following his previous experiment in Letchworth Garden City. Howard had called for the creation of planned towns that were to combine the benefits of the city and the countryside and to avoid the disadvantages of both. The Garden Cities and Town Planning Association had defined a garden city as

"a town designed for healthy living and industry of a size that makes possible a full measure of social life but not larger, surrounded by a rural belt; the whole of the land being in public ownership, or held in trust for the community"[2]

In 1919, Howard arranged for the purchase of land in Hertfordshire that had already been identified as a suitable site. On 29 April 1920 a company, Welwyn Garden City Limited, was formed to plan and build the garden city, chaired by Sir Theodore Chambers. Louis de Soissons was appointed as architect and town planner and Frederic Osborn as secretary.[2] The first house was occupied just before Christmas 1920.[3]

The town is laid out along tree-lined boulevards with a neo-Georgian town centre.[4] It has its own environmental protection legislation, the Scheme of Management for Welwyn Garden City.[5] Every road has a wide grass verge. The spine of the town is Parkway, a central mall or scenic parkway, almost a mile long. The view along Parkway to the south was once described as one of the world's finest urban vistas.[6] Older houses are on the west side of Parkway and newer houses on the east side[4]

The original planners intended that all the residents of the garden city would shop in one shop and created the Welwyn Stores, a monopoly which caused some local resentment.[2] Commercial pressures have since ensured much more competition and variety, and the Welwyn Stores were in 1984 taken over by the John Lewis Partnership. A shopping mall, the Howard Centre, was built in the 1980s, incorporating the original railway station.

Welwyn Garden City was designated a new town in 1948, when the Welwyn Garden City company handed its assets to the Welwyn Garden City Development Corporation. Louis de Soissons remained as its planning consultant. That year, The Times newspaper said: "Welwyn Garden City made The New Towns Act possible". In 1966, the Development Corporation was wound up and handed over to the Commission for New Towns. The housing stock, neighbourhood shopping and green spaces were passed to Welwyn Hatfield District Council between 1978 and 1983.[2]

There is a sports centre, The Gosling Sports Centre, with a dry ski slope, golf driving range, indoor and outdoor tennis, squash, football pitches, an athletics track, a gym and bowls. There is an airfield at Panshanger, currently used by the North London Flying School.[7] The King George V playing field, on the boundary of the old Hatfield Hyde village, was once used by the England football team for training. There are two golf courses: Panshanger, owned and operated by the borough council, and the Welwyn Garden City Golf Club, of which Nick Faldo was once a member. The Stanborough Park and lakes was the venue for a free annual Water Carnival and firework display and a November 5 fireworks display, both of which attracted large crowds from great distances.

Roman Baths are preserved in a steel vault underneath junction 6 of the A1(M) and are open to visitors.[4]

There is a large hospital in the town, the Queen Elizabeth II Hospital.

There is a resurgence of interest in the ethos of the garden city and the type of neighbourhood and community advocated by Howard, prompted by the problems of metropolitan and regional development and the importance of sustainability in government policy.[8]


Arms of the former Welwyn Garden City Urban District Council

After local government reorganisation in 1974, Welwyn Garden City was administered by Welwyn Hatfield District Council (now Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council). The nearby town of Hatfield and the village of Welwyn have parish councils with limited responsibilities, but Welwyn Garden City has none. There are indications that a change could be on the way[citation needed] with the establishment of a Welwyn Garden City Council, so devolving local administration to the town.


Welwyn Garden City experiences an oceanic climate (Köppen climate classification Cfb) similar to almost all of the United Kingdom.

Climate data for Welwyn Garden City
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 8
Average low °C (°F) 5
Precipitation mm (inches) 50.7
Source: [9] 2009-05-24


Welwyn Garden City has a strong commercial base with several designated employment areas. Among the companies trading in the town are:

Tesco has a head office at Shire Park, a business park in the north of the town, including a full-size supermarket mock-up for staff training.

The Hertfordshire Constabulary has its headquarters in the town.

Welwyn Garden City was once well-known as the home of the breakfast cereal Shredded Wheat, formerly made by Nabisco. The disused Shredded Wheat factory with its large white silos is a landmark on rail routes between London and the north of England.[2] The factory, designed by de Soissons and built in 1924 by Peter Lind, is a Grade II listed building. Cereal production moved to Staverton, Wiltshire in 2008 when the owner, Nestlé, decided that the factory was too small. Tesco has made a planning application for a store, leisure facilities and offices on the site.

The former supermarket chain Fine Fare had its head office in the town at one time, as did ICI's Plastics Division. In 1929 Sir Henry Birkin built the first supercharged Blower Bentley car at his engineering works in Broadwater Road.

During World War II the Special Operations Executive (SOE) had a research department in the town, the Inter-Services Research Bureau, which developed the Welrod pistol and the Welgun sub-machinegun. Station IX was a secret SOE factory making commando equipment at the old Frythe Hotel.


Buses are provided by Arriva, Centrebus and Uno, with some assistance from Hertfordshire County Council. Arriva's 300/301 Centraline service links Welwyn Garden City to the major nearby towns of Stevenage, Hatfield, St Albans and Hemel Hempstead, as well as neighbouring villages Woolmer Green and Knebworth. The 301 additionally connects both the nearby hospitals in Stevenage and Welwyn Garden City, while the 300 provides a direct link to recreational areas such as Stanborough Lakes in Welwyn Garden City and Verulamium Roman town in St Albans. Buses run every 15 minutes Monday-Friday, every 20 minutes Saturday, and hourly on Sunday. Additional bi-hourly service 314 is provided by Centrebus, connecting Welwyn to Codicote and Hitchin.

Uno buses serve the nearby towns of Hatfield, St Albans, Potters Bar, Hemel Hempstead, Watford and Barnet. Uno buses also serve further out into North London. Uno are the only provider in Welwyn Garden City to offer double decker buses.

Green Line Coaches 724 runs a service from Welwyn Garden City to Heathrow Airport, stopping at stops such as Watford and Rickmansworth.

The nearest railway station is Welwyn Garden City railway station in the town centre. Trains are operated by First Capital Connect and run every 20 minutes Monday to Friday south to London Moorgate and north to Hitchin and Stevenage, with a weekend service of every 30 minutes on Saturday and Sunday south to London's Kings Cross and north to Hitchin and Stevenage. The bus station is located near the railway station and has direct links to Heathrow Airport, Hatfield and other towns such as Stevenage.


Welwyn Garden City has four secondary schools:

Tewin Water School moved from Digswell to Monk's Walk School in 1998 and was later renamed Knightsfield School to create links with hearing pupils.

The former Sir John Newsom School merged with Stanborough School on 1 September 1998.[10]

Monks Walk School, Stanborough School and Sir Frederic Osborn School are part of the Welwyn Hatfield 14-19 Consortium, which includes a variety of secondary schools and Oaklands College in Welwyn Hatfield.

Notable people

Current and former residents of Welwyn Garden City

Popular culture

Several films and television programmes were shot in whole or in part in Welwyn Garden City, including

The film Battle of Britain shot scenes at Panshanger Aerodrome and the film of Graham Greene's Brighton Rock was made at the Associated British Picture Corporation's Welwyn Garden City studios.

Welwyn Garden City is sometimes referred to on account of its name or suburban character, for example in George Orwell's Keep the Aspidistra Flying, a sketch by Mel Smith and Griff Rhys Jones in Alas Smith and Jones, the TV series Porridge and Strange, in the lyrics of Billy's Line by Red Box, and in a song by Edwyn Collins.

See also


  1. ^ Office for National Statistics, 2001 Census, Key statitistics for HCC settlements Usual resident populations
  2. ^ a b c d e Maurice de Soissons, Welwyn Garden City, Cambridge, Publications for Companies, 1988
  3. ^ Review of C. B. Purdom, The Building of Satellite Towns, J.M. Dent & Sons Ltd, 1925
  4. ^ a b c
  5. ^ Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council
  6. ^ Welwyn Garden City Conservation Area Appraisal 2006.
  7. ^ North London Flying School
  8. ^ David Schuyler, From Garden City to Green City: The Legacy of Ebenezer Howard, Johns Hopkins, 2002
  9. ^ "Averages for Welwyn Garden City". 
  10. ^ School Index

External links


Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Welwyn Garden City is a town (not as the name implies, a city) in Hertfordshire, England. Welwyn Garden City is also known as WGC or, somewhat incorrectly, Welwyn, although this can cause confusion with the village called Welwyn which lies a few miles to the northwest of WGC.


Welwyn Garden City, as its name suggests, is a "garden city", founded by Sir Ebenezer Howard in the 1920s following his previous experiments in Hampstead Garden Suburb and Letchworth Garden City. Howard had called for the creation of new towns of limited size, planned in advance, and surrounded by a permanent belt of agricultural land, as a role model for lower-density suburban development. Howard believed that such Garden Cities were the perfect blend of city and nature.

The BBC TV series Superstars was famously filmed in Welwyn Garden City throughout the 1970s and 1980s.

Famous Welwyn Garden City former and current residents include S*M*A*S*H (Band), The Subways, David James (footballer), Artist Damien Hirst, Nick Faldo (golfer), Lisa Snowdon (model) and Rolling Stones' Mick Taylor.

Welwyn Garden City is well known by avid readers of the side of breakfast cereal boxes in Britain as the town where Shredded Wheat and Shreddies were made, at the former Nabisco factory (now part of Nestlé).

Get in

By train

Trains run roughly every twenty minutes to WGC from London. Taking approximately 30 minutes from London Kings Cross, and 50 minutes from London Moorgate station. Trains also run to and from Hatfield, Stevenage, Cambridge and Peterborough.

By bus

The bus station is serviced by local buses only - no national express services. Local buses run to and from Hatfield, St Albans, Stevenage, Hitchin, Hemel Hempstead, Hertford and Watford.

Get around

WGC is small enough to walk around for any able-bodied person. Taxis are available from the rank at the front of the Howard Centre if required.

  • The Shredded Wheat Factory can be seen from the train. No tours. Thats about as much as you can do save walk across the (now listed) footbridge. The Factory sadly closed in April 2008.
  • Parkway - the attractive avenues of Parkway and Howardsgate are worth a visit, with the coronation fountain at their intersection.
  • Mill Green Museum, Mill Green. Open Tu-Fr 10AM-5PM; Sa,Su, Bank Holidays 2PM-5PM.
  • Stanborough Lakes, [1]. A pleasant recreational area offering fishing, boating, swimming as well as wide open spaces for dog walking and sun bathing. It is 30 minutes walk from the town centre or 5 minutes in a taxi.
  • Campus West cinema and theatre, (01707) 357117, [2]. Shows a range of productions and offers a bar serving alcoholic drinks which is open for the duration of the entertainment.
  • John Lewis, Bridge Road, 08456 049 049, [3]. Took over Welwyn Department Stores in the 1980s and offers a grand shopping experience without the hussle and bustle of a london store. Now open 7 days a week.


There are several good cafes on Howardsgate (the main avenue leading up to the howard's centre).

  • The Doctor's Tonic, Church Road. Has a lively and young crowd most days of the week as well as live music upstairs.
  • O'Neills, Parkway. An irish theme pub (although not part of the chain) just off Howardsgate. This is small however on nights when London Derby matches are played, it can get quite raucous.
  • The Cork, Howardsgate. Right in the town centre it's the place to go if you want a lively pub.

If you want something a bit more relaxed, go to The Sun or The Long Arm And Short Arm which are right next to each other in Lemsford which is 5 minutes taxi ride or 30 minutes walk from town.

Bobbies cafe

  • Premier Travel Inn, Stanborough Road, 01707 393789 [4]. Standard budget business hotel.
  • Best Western Homestead Court Hotel Homestead Lane
  • Tewin Bury Farm, Tewin, 01438 717793, [5]. Attractive hotel, popular for weddings.
  • Quality Hotel, next to Junction 6 of the A1(M) in Welwyn village, [6]
  • Welwyn is a couple of miles to the north of Welwyn Garden City. It was settled by the Romans. Many Roman artifacts have been found, and the remains of a Roman bath house, which lie under the A1 motorway, may be visited. The bath house remains are a scheduled ancient monument, ingeniously preserved in a steel vault. Once part of a fine villa, the layout of the cold, warm and hot rooms and the heating system are remarkably well preserved. The bath house is open on weekends and Bank Holidays between 14.00-17.00. Also open during school holidays in the afternoon. £1.50
The railway viaduct at Digswell
The railway viaduct at Digswell
  • Digswell is to the southeast of Welwyn and northeast of Welwyn Garden City. It is an attractive village with several thatched cottages but the main reason most people visit is to look at the Digswell railway viaduct (also known as the Welwyn Viaduct). The viaduct is around 1,560 feet (475 m) long and comprises forty arches of 30 ft (9 m) span, and is 100 ft (30 m) high. It is built of brick and took two years to build. It was originally opened by Queen Victoria on 6 August 1850, but she was so frightened of its height that she refused to travel across it.
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