"The first 'garden city'." Letchworth by leics
Letchworth Travel Guide: 32 reviews and 83 photos
Conditions in late Victorian England were truly appalling. The slums of our industrial towns and cities resulted in high child mortality and short life spans for all.
There were people who knew this, and recognised that it had to be changed. Some of the larger employers, such as the Cadbury family, built 'model villages' for their workers; places with proper housing, gardens, green spaces, community buildings and (usually) no pubs. Bournville (now part of Birmingham), Saltaire (built by Titus Salt, now part of Bradford and a World Heritage Site) and Port Sunlight (William Lever, in Lancashire) are all model villages.
Ebenezer Howard dreamed of 'garden cities', where town and country could be combined and the city's profits would benefit ordinary people. His book was the catalyst for the concept of Letchworth. In 1903 the overall planning scheme created by architects Parker and Unwin was chosen, and Letchworth came into being.
Houses started at 150GBP, roads were planted with trees, the town was built around wide 'boulevards' with space and greenery everywhere. It continued (and continues) to grow, but the feeling of space and the easily accessible parkland (nearly 14 miles of 'Greenway' surround the town) are still there.
Like most of the 'model' communities, there were no pubs. The 'Skittles Inn' existed as a meeting place, but sold only non-alcoholic drinks. The nearest proper pub is still some way outside the town centre (although the town is not actually 'dry' anymore).
One of the nicest things about Letchworth is the variety of independently-owned shops. It's such a change to visit an English town which has something other than the same boring chainstores.
It's a very pleasant place, worth an afternoon's wander if you are in the vicinity.
One reason for visiting Letchworth is to see black squirrels...yes, black ones! You can see them in Hitchin nearby too. Although rare across the Uk, there are lots of them in the Bedfordshire/Cambridgeshire/Hertfordshire area...not at all uncommon.
They are a mutation of the usual greys, a little smaller and entirely black. They don't seem to mix with the greys at all; they seem to tolerate and largely ignore each other.
It was a bit of a surprise the first time I saw one, because I didn't know they existed, but I'm quite used to it now!
- Pros:Interesting architecture and layout
- Cons:None that I came across
- In a nutshell:Black squirrels in a garden city
I have stayed (once) at the Broadway but, as I have family in the town, I rarely eat out. We had a coupon for their... more travel advice
There is only one hotel in Letchworth itself, and it's the Broadway. It is situated in the town centre, a minute's walk... more travel advice
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