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Welwyn Garden City

Welwyn Garden City. The Official Handbook and Directory 1953/54

Author: Mrs D. Frankl (compiler and editor)

Published: 1953 by Ed. J. Burrow & Co. Ltd.

Format: Paperback 8½" by 5½" with 184 pages


(click images to enlarge)

Title page  

This handbook was a joint effort between the Urban District Council and the Development Corporation. It is very different from the 1950 guide and earlier ones. It is more substantial and printed on glossy paper.

There are 32 black and white photographs of people and buildings illustrating the text, and a few more in advertisements. There are two pull-out maps: one of Hertfordshire 7" by 9", and one of Welwyn Garden City 14" by 10".

The first article in it is a short 2-page history of the town by R. L. Reiss. This is followed by a seven-page chronology of main events 1919-1953 entitled Milestones. Pictures of R. L. Reiss can be found in other reviews here and here.


(click images to enlarge)

The Coronation Fountain,  
Architect: Louis de Soissons  
Photo: R. Thompson  





Director of Welwyn Garden City Ltd., 1920-1948, and
Member of the Development Corporation since 1948

A THIRD of a century has elapsed since the foundation of the town. Having seen the growth from the start, I have been asked to write a brief history.

Though founded in 1920, the town's real origin dates from 1898 when Mr. (later Sir) Ebenezer Howard published his book Garden Cities of Tomorrow. In it he drew attention to the social evils caused by the continuous growth of London and other large towns and advocated the establishment of new towns of limited size, planned both for residence and industry. He termed them "garden cities" because he believed in the marriage of town and country.

Sir Ebenezer Howard founder of Welwyn Garden City

(click image to enlarge)

In 1903 he founded Letchworth and went to live there. When travelling to London he decided that the land on which Welwyn Garden City has now been built would be eminently suitable as the site for a second garden city - if only the land could be purchased.

In May, 1919, the late Lord Desborough offered a portion of this land at auction. Howard, although nearly seventy, immediately asked some of his friends (of whom I was one) to provide money to enable him to bid for it. As a result he secured the first 1,458 acres and a few days later secured a further 230 acres by agreement.

The earliest minute book records the following:

"On the 30th June a formal meeting was held of those whom Mr. Howard had invited to co-operate with him. There were present Mr. Howard (in the Chair), and Messrs. Purdom, Reiss, Bolton Smart, and Osborn (acting Secretary). Mr. J. R. Farquharson and Col. F. Fremantle had been invited but were unable to come. In July and August, further meetings of the provisional board with the addition of Mr. W. T. Layton were held and steps were taken to register a pioneer company termed 'Second Garden City, Ltd.' In October the first meeting of Directors was held and it was decided to invite Lord Lytton to join as Chairman and Sir Theodore Chambers, K.B.E., as Vice-Chairman. Lord Lytton agreed to join but not to be Chairman, and in December Sir Theodore Chambers was elected Chairman. Mr. F. J. Osborn was appointed Secretary."

In 1920 Welwyn Garden City Limited was formed and the first Board consisted of Sir Theodore Chambers, K.B.E. (Chairman), Mr. (later Sir) Ebenezer Howard, the Earl of Lytton, Col. (afterwards Sir) Francis Fremantle, Sir John Mann, K.B.E., Mr. W. T. (later Lord) Layton, and Messrs. J. R. Farquharson, C. B. Purdom, R. L. Reiss, Bolton Smart, and Samuel Smethurst. The following were the principal officers: Mr. F. J. Osborn, Secretary; Mr. Louis de Soissons, Town Planner and Architect; Capt. W. E. James, Engineer; Mr. C. W. Care, Accountant.

When the land was acquired there was no railway station between Hatfield and Welwyn North. There was no water supply, main drainage, electricity, or gas. There were a few farm houses and cottages. "The Waggoners", "Beehive", and "Woodman" were small public houses. The only roads were Handside Lane, approached from the Great North Road by way of Tinkers Hill (now Lemsford Lane), Bridge Road and Brockswood Lane, Peartree Lane and the old Stanborough Lane which extended over Twentieth Mile Bridge along Woodhall Lane and so through to Cole Green Lane, with a fork southwards down to Hatfield Hyde. All of these were country lanes. The population was about 400.

Early in 1920 a hutted camp was constructed on what is now the 'Campus' to accommodate building trade workers and some army huts were erected where the Council Offices now stand to act as the Company's offices, together with a hut to be used as a meeting room.

In May, 1920, house building commenced in Handside Lane and in Brockswood Lane, and the first new house was occupied in December.

Since then the town has grown until it now has a population of over 20,000 with a variety of industries, shops, three banks, public buildings, playing fields, an open-air swimming pool, and a vigorous social life.

Development was slowed down from 1929-1932 owing to the world economic depression. After that, until 1939, development increased and in the two years before the war about 700 houses were built, together with the new Stores building and a number of factories.

The outbreak of war again slowed down development, although the population increased rapidly owing to evacuation and the transfer of war-workers. When the war ended, the Council proceeded as rapidly with house building as the Ministry would allow and the company built some 50 houses. The company's activities, however, were checked in 1947 by the indication of the Minister of Town and Country Planning, Mr. (now Lord) Silkin, that he had decided to designate Welwyn Garden City as a New Town under the New Towns Act, 1946.

The Order finally designating the New Town, together with the appointment of a development corporation, took place in the summer of 1948 (see "Milestones" below). Since then the rate of development has gradually increased again.

The influence of Howard's ideas, together with the practical embodiment of those ideas at Letchworth and Welwyn Garden City, has profoundly affected town planning throughout the world. It is worth recording that the Leningrad Architects' Society elected Sir Ebenezer Howard an 'Honourable Member' of the society, and in a letter the president of the society wrote: "Even now you command here, in our remote land that has sustained so many disasters, fervent adherence of your great idea. We wait for the day to come when it can be put into practice."

In 1936, when President Roosevelt established the first 'green belt towns' in the United States, the official literature explained that the projects were based on the successful experience at Letchworth and Welwyn, and a photograph of Welwyn Garden City was included with the caption 'a model of scientific planning.'

When, in 1946, the then Minister of Town and Country Planning introduced the New Towns Bill he made it clear that the proposals in the legislation were based upon Howard's ideas and the practical experience of Letchworth and Welwyn.

Space does not permit of a detailed history of the town but on the following pages some of the milestones in its history are set out in chronological order.

Of necessity, many important events are left out and I take personal responsibility for the selection. I have though that probably the first seven and the past seven years would be more interesting and these are dealt with rather more fully.







Purchase by Mr. Ebenezer Howard of the first 1,688 acres.

A pioneer company was formed and the survey of the land was commenced.


Welwyn Garden City Limited formed and additional 689 acres purchased.

First Town Plan adopted.

Workmen's camp constructed on the Campus and hutted offices provided for the Company where the Council Offices now stand.

Railway provides a "Halt" at the junction of the Luton Branch (opposite the "Cherry Tree").

In May the first brick was laid and in December the first new house was occupied in Handside Lane.


In October a new civil parish was created to cover the Company's estate and was brought under the Welwyn Rural District Council. A parish meeting was held and the following were elected as the first parish councillors: (Sir) Ebenezer Howard (33 votes); Sir Theodore Chambers (29); H. E. Stevens (26); Mrs. Drover (25); W. C. Horn (24); A. J. Squire (24). Sir Theodore Chambers was elected Chairman and Mr. W. C. Horn (who had been farming the land before the acquisition) was elected Vice-Chairman. Mr. F. J. Osborn was appointed Clerk.

Sir Theodore Chambers was elected unopposed to represent the parish on the Welwyn Rural District Council.

Census population, 767.

"Cherry Tree" restaurant opened in temporary building and the Company provides a meeting hut near its offices used for both Church of England and Free Church services and for general social purposes.

In October the first portion of the temporary building of Welwyn Stores was opened at the corner of Bridge Road and Guessens Road. Electricity connected in the town.

The first issue of Welwyn Garden City News (now incorporated in the Welwyn Times) was published. First editor - Mr. Ernest Selley.

Mr. C. B. Purdom produced The Showing Up of Blanco Posnet by Bernard Shaw in the Barn at Brickwall. By the end of the year the Theatre Society had been formed and produced Candida.

By this time other societies had been formed, including the Music Society, the Arts Club, the Book Club, the football, hockey, cricket, and tennis clubs, and the Educational Association.

The Educational Association organized the first temporary school in the Meeting Hut on Bridge Road. (This was the forerunner of Handside School.)

First baby (Evelyn Setters) born in the new town.


The Rural District Council commenced the first council houses in Elm Gardens and Applecroft Road.

The Daily Mail erects on Meadow Green and its immediate surroundings a "model village". Opened by Field Marshal Lord Haig.

The Lawrence Hall was opened and the temporary school was transferred to it. The first factory building (later taken over by Messrs. Dawnay) was commenced. The health association was formed.

First resident doctors arrive - Dr. H. J. B. Fry and Mrs. Fry (Dr. G. Miall Smith).

Mr. F. J. Osborn wrote and produced the Labour Players (later the Folk Players) in The Blowing up of Bolsho Poshnut, satirising the Garden City's internal politics. The County Council builds first portion of Handside School and appoints the first local education sub-committee.


The membership of the parish council was increased to twelve and Welwyn Garden City was allocated three additional seats on the Rural District Council. The first portion of Handside School (400 places) opened. First Headmaster, Mr. R. Pinsent.

The Backhouse Room opened.

The first portion of St. Francis' Hall was opened and the Company built extensions to the Stores, a portion being used temporarily as a meeting hall.

The first nine holes of the golf course were brought into play and a golf club formed.

Flora Robson (who produced and acted frequently during the next few years in the town) produced the Barnstormers (later the Thalians) in The Luck of the Navy.


Cinema performances started in the annexe to the Stores.

Parish council takes a plebiscite on the question of whether the name of the town should be changed. Seventeen voted for "Welwyn South", two for "Welwyn Wood" and one each for "Handside", "Penn Welwyn", and "Welwyn Town". A further thirty-five names had been suggested by other residents but none of them received any votes. As 118 voted for retaining "Welwyn Garden City" this remains the name of the town.


Building starts in the Peartree District.

Burial ground opened by the parish council.

The bridge over the Luton branch opened and the main line station begun.

The building of the Shredded Wheat Factory started.

The Guild of Help formed.


A special parish meeting apply for the creation of an urban district council.

The Roman Catholic Church of St. Bonaventure was opened by Cardinal Bourne.

The railway station was opened by the Rt. Hon. Neville Chamberlain, M.P., then Minister of Health. In the course of his speech he said that those responsible for Welwyn Garden City had convinced him of the rightness of their proposals but "you have still to convince the country". (The "convincing" was completed in 1946.)

First performance of A Midsummer Night's Dream in The Dell. Producer, Mrs. E. J. August.

Extension to Handside School opened by the Duchess of Atholl, M.P., then Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Education.


The following were elected members of the first Urban District Council (in order of number of votes): W. C. Horn (Ind.), Dr. H. J. B. Fry (Lab.), E. J. August (Ind.), W. R. Hughes (Lab.), H. E. Stevens (Ind.), L. T. M. Gray (Ind.), Sir Theodore Chambers (Ind.), J. P. Marsden (Ind.), F. J. How (Ind.), F. H. Masters (Ind.), H. B. Hoddinott (Ind.), A. L. Elliston (Ind.), J. H. House (Ind.) Mrs. Glaizyer (Ind.), James Gray (Ind.). There were thirteen unsuccessful candidates of whom seven were Labour and six Independent. Mr. Horn was elected Chairman. By a majority of eleven to four the council decided to have joint officers with the company as a measure of efficiency and economy. Mr. F. J. Osborn was accordingly appointed Clerk, Capt. W. E. James, Engineer, and Mr. C. W. Care, Accountant.

W. C. Horn, J.P., who farmed some of the land on which the Garden City was founded and who became first chairman of the Urban District Council.

(click image to enlarge)

Sir Ebenezer Howard was knighted for his services to town planning and was also elected an Honourable Member of the Leningrad Architects' Society. The Theatre Society won the Howard de Walden Cup (British Drama League) in competition with amateur dramatic societies throughout Great Britain. The play, Mr. Sampson, was produced by Mr. C. B. Purdom and the cast consisted of Mr. Ernest Selley, Mrs. Elsie Colson, and Mrs. Joyce Raby. The cast - with Mrs. Lilian Hinton instead of Mrs. Raby - later went to New York to compete with the winning amateur dramatic society in the United States for the Belasco Cup which they won.

Lord Howard de Walden presenting the de Walden Cup to Ernest Selley (1927). Other members of the cast - Elsie Colson and Joyce Raby - are on either side of him and the producer, C. B. Purdom is behind him.

Photo: Daily Mirror (click image to enlarge)

The Civic Fund (later the Community Trust) inaugurated.


In May Sir Ebenezer Howard died aged 78

Mr. H. Willard appointed first full-time principal officer of the Council to deal with accounts, rating, and valuation.

The Welwyn Theatre (cinema with stage for drama performances) on Parkway opened.

Welwyn Times initiated, incorporating the Welwyn Garden City News and the Pilot (a local paper owned and edited by Mr. J. W. Sault). Welwyn Garden City Football Club won Herts Charity Shield.


Free Church (Presbyterian) in Parkway opened and St Michael and All Angels in Ludwick Way.

First small cottage hospital started in Elm Gardens.

The Health Association awarded William Hardy Shield by the National Baby Week Council for all areas in England with a population of less than 15,000. (They won it again in 1931 and 1934.)

Peartree School opened. First headmistress, Miss L. A. Sing.

Chamber of Commerce formed.

Memorial to Sir Ebenezer Howard unveiled by the Earl of Lytton with the late Marquess of Salisbury as Chairman.

Murphy Radio commence operating in small workshop.

Drama Festival started by F. J. Osborn and Flora Robson.

"Home Helps" scheme inaugurated by the Health Association (the first in Hertfordshire).

Mr. (later Sir) Tidbury-Beer elected to the urban district council with the slogan "Beer is Best".


First shop opened in Howardsgate.


Central Post Office opened in Howardsgate

Census population, 8,585.

First section of the permanent building for Welwyn Stores in Parkway opened.

Norton Factory starts production.


Opening of the Barn Theatre.

The Council acquires the sewage and water undertakings from the Company.

Ludwick School opened. First headmistress, Miss I. Sing.

Lea Valley Bathing Pool opened.

The Council acquires from the Company land at Hatfield Hyde for playing fields, later named King George V Playing Fields.


I was a Spy filmed at Welwyn Garden City.


Parkway School opened. Miss A. Coe first headmistress.

Council of Christian Congregations formed.

Town band inaugurated.


Bishop of St. Albans consecrates St. Francis Church.

The Thalians won the Howard de Walden Cup in competition with amateur dramatic societies throughout Great Britain, and the Folk Players won the Welwyn Drama Cup.

The Music Society took part in Command Performance at the Albert Hall. The Rt. Hon. George Lansbury, M.P., dedicates the Wallhead Memorial Seat in Parkway.

Peartree Boys' Club founded.


Eastern entrance to station opened.

The Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley Wood, M.P., Minister of Health, lays the foundation stone of new Council Offices.

Co-operative Stores in Howardsgate opened.

Town band wins trophy at the Crystal Palace.


New Council offices opened.

The Mayor of Baghdad visited Welwyn Garden City.

Dinah Sheridan wins the All England Beauty Competition.

Residential club for boys opened in Peartree (the building now used as a maternity home).


At the U.D.C. elections Labour secured majority for the first time.

Community Centre opened.

Licence granted for Peartree Public House.


British Legion Branch wins Jellicoe Cup. (It also won it and the Haig Cup in 1940.)

New Stores building opened by Lord Harmsworth. Two-thirds of old Stores demolished but remaining third left standing for wartime needs.

Grammar School opened. Headmaster, Mr. J. Nichol.

Mr. C. H. G. Small appointed headmaster of Handside School.

Christ Church (Baptist) built.

Outbreak of war. Council appoints emergency committee. About 2,600 evacuees arrive; emergency maternity homes organized for evacuated expectant mothers. (These buildings now remain as the local hospital and the Peartree Maternity Home.)

Civil defence organized and W.V.S. formed.

House building cut down.


So many events occurred during the war that only a brief summary is possible. In 1940 bombs destroyed houses in Handside Lane, Guessens Road, Mandeville Rise and Coneydale and a factory. In addition to evacuees, many transferred war workers had to be accommodated in the town and the population went up to nearly 21,000 at December, 1940. A number of young men lost their lives and a number were decorated for gallantry. Among the organizations formed, in addition to those mentioned under 1939, were the Home Guard, the Air Training Corps, Army Cadets, and Sea Cadets. Two day nurseries off Church Road and Woodhall Lane and the British Restaurant were opened and have continued in existence since. Sir Francis Fremantle, M.P., died, and Mr. John Grimston was elected. In 1945 most of the transferred workers and evacuees left. At June, 1945, population was 17,300.

In 1945 Capt. W. E. James, who had served as engineer to the Council since its formation, resigned, and Mr. R. V. Scoffham was appointed in his place.

At the General Election of 1945 Mr. C. Dumpleton (Labour) was elected Member of Parliament. The following local residents were also elected to Parliament: Mrs. M. E. Nichol, Mrs. F. Paton, Messrs. W. G. Cove, Asterley Jones, George Lindgren, and J. Paton. Mr. Lindgren was appointed Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of National Insurance.


The first post-war council housing schemes were completed.

John Hartley wins the 100 yards and the quarter-mile at the County Athletic Championships.

Reunion of the early pioneers still living in the town, at which presentation was made to Sir Theodore Chambers.

Crown Prince of Sweden (now King Gustav) visits the town.

The Urban District Council and the Company submitted proposals to the Minister for the town to develop to a population of 50,000. This was opposed by the Welwyn Rural District Council.


In February the Minister invited representatives of the Company and the Council to meet him when he announced: (a) that he had decided to limit the population to 36,500 and not to allow development north of the Mimram Valley, and (b) that he proposed to designate Welwyn Garden City and Hatfield as New Towns.

Eastern Electricity Board takes over the electricity supply from the Company.

In November the Minister of Town and Country Planning speaks at a meeting in the town explaining the reasons for designating it a New Town.

The Cricket Club arranges festival week to celebrate its 25th Anniversary.

L. Bateman tops Herts County Cricket batting averages (also in 1950 when D. Carnill was second).


In January the Minister makes the Provisional Order designating Welwyn Garden City and Hatfield New Towns and issues explanatory statement.

The Company issues statement why it opposes the proposal.

Enquiry into the proposed Designation Order took place at which it was announced on behalf of the Minister that the Development Corporation, when appointed, would acquire such property from the Company as it wished to dispose of. The Minister subsequently confirmed the Designation Order. Mr. R. L. Reiss, who was the only director of the company other than Sir Theodore Chambers who had served continuously since 1920, resigned from the Board in order to accept the invitation from the Minister to act as vice-chairman of the Development Corporation.

The following were appointed members of the Welwyn Garden City Development Corporation: Mr. R. G. Gosling (Chairman), Mr. R. L. Reiss (Vice-Chairman), Mrs. L'Estrange Malone (L.C.C.), Messrs. Elton Longmore, G. R. Lowe, J. H. MacDonnell (L.C.C.), H. L R. Matthews, C. G. Maynard (H.C.C.), W. H. Playle.

The Corporation appoints Mr. J. E. McComb, D.F.C., General Manager; Mr. Louis de Soissons, Town Planner; Mr. H. T. Tigwell, Comptroller; Mr. J. Skinner, Engineer; and Mr. W. A. Clarke, Legal Officer. (It subsequently appointed other principal officers, see page 23.)

Offices for the Youth Hostels Association built by the Corporation, which took over offices in Midland Bank Chambers.

Mr. J. R. Yglesias wins the County Squash Racquets Championship. (Also in 1949 and 1950 and captains the County team.)

Mr. R. L. Reiss awarded the Howard Medal for distinguished service to town planning.


The Development Corporation acquires property from the Company for £2,800,000; publishes its Master Plan and commences building flats and houses.

The Welwyn Garden City Company goes into voluntary liquidation and the shareholders approve the directors' proposal to make substantial gifts to Sherrardswood School, Peartree Boys' Club, and the British Legion.

The second edition of The Building of Satellite Towns by Mr. C. B. Purdom published, containing detailed account of the development of Letchworth and Welwyn Garden City.

Mrs. M. Glenister's "Nimbus" wins the Derby.


Members of Development Corporation re-appointed with exception of Mr. J. H. MacDonnell.

The Hon. John Grimston elected M.P. for the division and the following local residents were re-elected: Messrs. George Lindgren, J. Paton, and W. G. Cove. Mr. George Lindgren was appointed Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Town and Country Planning.

Completion by the Corporation of the first section of Homestead Court.

Templewood School opened. Mr. A. E. R. Otter first headmaster.

New Methodist Church built.

Bequest by the Hon. Alice Glyn for erection of dwellings for elderly women announced. Community Trust appointed Trustees.

Mr. W. H. Playle, J.P., elected Chairman of the local Bench.


Census population of the old urban district area 18,296 and of the corporation's designated area, 18,786. In October the area of the urban district was extended to cover the whole of the designated area.

Development Corporation completes Homestead Court Restaurant and one-room flats: acquires the old Methodist Chapel in Peartree Lane as headquarters for Peartree Girls' Club and also the unemployed hut in Bridge Road East as headquarters for the 20/35 Club and other organizations: publishes its proposals for the development of the Campus and puts model on view: commences the development of the Ludwick neighbourhood.

Blackthorn Primary School opened. Mr. A. G. Luck first headmaster.

Retirement of Mrs. D. Bonney after twenty-five years as head of the Welwyn Garden City Library.

Local celebration of Festival of Britain. Miss Janet Robertson, Festival Queen. Peartree Boys' Club and Girls' Club performed A Midsummer Night's Dream in the Dell. Producer, Mr. H. A. G. Baker.

Messrs. Ardath Cigarette Manufacturers acquire the old film studios in Broadwater Road.

Air Training Corps headquarters built.

The Hon. John Grimston re-elected M.P. for the division. Messrs. G. Lindgren, J. Paton, and W. G. Cove also re-elected.


Development Corporation completes first houses in Ludwick neighbourhood and makes Ludwick House available as a social centre. Family Club formed.

The Minister of Housing and Local Government (Mr. Harold Macmillan) visits the town.

Members of the Development Corporation re-appointed with the exception of Mr. Elton Longmore who had retired. Mrs. Malone died in 1951 and her place was not filled. Mr. C. G. Maynard appointed vice-chairman in place of Mr. R. L. Reiss who asked to be relieved of this post, although remaining a member.

New Factory for I.C.I. completed.

Presentation to Mr. B. H. Deamer on his retirement after twenty-two years' service as Clerk to the Council.

Denys Carnill captain of the British Olympic Hockey Team which won a medal at Helsinki.

Denys Carnill, Captain of the British Olympic Hockey Team, Helsinki, 1952

(click image to enlarge)

Twenty-fifth anniversary of the founding of the local Boys' Brigade.


Members of Development Corporation re-appointed for a further two years.

Corporation completes its thousandth house in the Garden City and Hatfield.

The Council erects fountain at the junction of Parkway and Howardsgate to celebrate the Coronation of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, and also extends King George V Playing Fields where it constructs a children's yachting pond.

"Dawn", by the local sculptor, David Evans, erected in Parkway.

Roman Catholic Primary School opened in Woodhall Lane. First headmaster, Mr. V. J. Nevard.

Howard School (Secondary Modern), Oaken Grove, opened. First headmaster, Mr. C. H. G. Small. Pupils from the Handside School move there.

Handside School renamed Applecroft School and used as a junior primary school to which juniors from Parkway move with their headmaster, Mr. A. Worthy. Parkway School becomes an infant school. First headmistress, Miss V. Spain.

Sir Stanley Angwin (one of the earliest residents) awarded the Faraday Medal.

Mr. Louis de Soissons (who has completed thirty-three years as Town Planner) elected a Royal Academician.

First triplets born in the town. Mother, Mrs. Joan Douglass.

Mimram Valley Sewerage scheme commenced.

Council completes all-electric pumping system at the waterworks.

First ten bungalows for elderly women, constructed under the bequest of the Hon. Alice Glyn, completed and occupied.





In 1920 when building started
(about) 400
In 1921 the Census population was
In 1927 the estimated population was about
In 1931 the Census population was
(adjusted) 8,712
In 1938 Registrar-General's estimate
In 1939 National Registration in September
In 1945 Registrar-General's estimate (June)
In 1951 Census population: U.D.C's old boundaries
In 1951 Census population: U.D.C's new boundaries
In 1952 Registrar-General's estimate (June)
In 1953 Unofficial estimate (June)


1931 Census
occupied 2,290; unoccupied 200
1939 Estimated by U.D.C. at December
occupied 4,176
1945 Estimated by U.D.C. at December
occupied 4,490
1951 Estimated by U.D.C. at December
occupied 5,283

At the 30th June, 1953, the number of occupied houses and flats was 5,874. In addition there were some which had been just completed and were not occupied.

The number completed by the Urban District Council at the 30th June, 1953, was 2,047, of which 698 had been completed since 1945.

At the same date the Development Corporaton had completed 640 dwellings and had a further 509 under construction. They also owned 1,622 dwellings which they had acquired from the Company and other sources.

Between 1945 and 30th June, 1953, the number of houses completed under private license was 94.




Welwyn Garden City Urban District Council

Council Offices: Bridge Road, Welwyn Garden City

Chairman: Councillor A. Vickery, J.P.

Handside Ward Peartree Ward

B. Carne
J. Chear
Mrs. J. E. Hattie
G. Hunt
H. W. Monroe
D. Newton
Mrs. S. G. Walker

S. R. Collingwood
A. E. Luddington
J. McKnight
E. V. Moore
S. W. Palacio
W. H. Playle
H. Shepherd


Clerk: L. J. Slocombe
Engineer and Surveyor: R. V. Scoffham, A.M.I.C.E., A.M.T.P.I.
Treasurer: H. Willard
Medical Officer of Health: G. R. Taylor, M.B., B.S. (London), D.P.H.
Sanitary Inspector: M. Stockdale, Cert.S.I.B., M.S.I.A., M.R.San.I.
Housing Manager: C. N. Mitchell, A.I.Hsg., A.A.L.P.A.
Superintendent Registrar - Births, Deaths and Marriages: L. J. Slocombe
Registrar - Births, Deaths and Marriages: Miss M. H. V. Hopkinson

General Rate in the £ for 1953-54:
Water Rate: 1/6 in the £ on the net annual value of a dwelling house.
Council Meetings: last Tuesday each month (except August) at 8 p.m.

The Council Offices

Photo: John Chear

(click image to enlarge)

List of Chairmen and Clerks of the Council


1921 to 1927 Chairman: Sir Theodore Chambers, K.B.E.
  Clerk (part-time): F. J. Osborn



W. C. Horn
F. J. How
L. T. M. Gray
W. C. Horn
J. P. Marsden
Jas. Gray
G. S. Lindgren
F. J. How
A. R. Pelly
W. R. Hughes
Mrs. W. S. Hopkyns
H. Clapham Lander
A. W. Richardson
A. B. Coleman
W. H. Playle
F. Hesketh
Mrs. M. E. Nichol
L. O. Bowmer
Mrs. D. Jenner
J. McConalogue
G. R. Lowe
H. Shepherd
D. H. Daines
J. Chear
S . W. Palacio
Mrs. J. Hattie
A. Vickery

Note: Dr. H. J. B. Fry was elected Chairman in 1930 but he died before he took up office.


1927 to 1930 F. J. Osborn (Part-time)
1930 to 1952 B. H. Deamer
From 1952 L. J. Slocombe


1931 to 1940 G. S. Lindgren (Elected an Alderman in 1940)
1940 to 1943 A. B. Coleman
1943 to 1949 J. Paton
1949 to 1952 H. W. Monroe
From 1952 W. H. Playle

U.D.C. Housing at Hatfield Hyde

Architect: C. W. Fox, F.R.I.B.A.

Photo: John Chear

(click image to enlarge)




Welwyn Garden City Development Corporation

4 Wigmores South, Howardsgate

Chairman: R. G. Gosling, J.P.

Vice-Chairman: C. Gordon Maynard, J.P.


R. L. Reiss, M.A., Hon. A.M.T.P.I.
G. R. Lowe, F.C.A.
H. L. Roy Matthews, C.B.E., F.A.I.
W. H. Playle, J.P.

General Manager: J. E. McComb, D.F.C.
Assistant General Manager and Chief Legal Officer: W. A. Clarke
Administrative Officer: R. P. Menday, M.C.
Chief Engineer: A. G. J. Cornner,M.B.E., M.I.Mun.E., M.R.San.I.
Chief Estates Officer: R. D. Relf, F.R.I.C.S.
Comptroller: H. T. Tigwell
Construction Manager: W. C. C. Press, A.R.I.C.S.
Housing Manager: J. O. Restall, A.A.L.P.A., A.I.Hsg.
Landscape Architect: M. R. M. Sefton, N.D.H.
Planning Consultant: Louis de Soissons, O.B.E., R.A., F.R.I.B.A., M.T.P.I.


Sweet Briar
Architects: James and Bywater
Photo: John Chear

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Detached Houses, South Parkway
Architects: Louis de Soissons and Partners
Photo: R. Thompson

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Example of earlier development [Walden Place]

Architects: Louis de Soissons and A. W. Kenyon

Photo: John Chear

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Next in the handbook is a section (9 pages) of general information under the following headings:

Useful addresses
Education - Hertfordshire County Council
Private Schools
Halls, Meeting Places, etc
Health Services
Outdoor Sports Facilities

There is a professional directory (2 pages) listing accountants, architects, chiropodists, dentists, doctors, estate agent, opticians, osteopath, solicitors, surveyor, teachers of music, dancing, drama and secretarial skills, and veterinarians.

There is a four-page listing of societies and clubs under subheadings Drama, Music, Politics, Sports, and General.

There is a list of youth organisations including scouts, guides, cadets and boys' clubs,

There is a commercial directory which lists local firms and trades unions.

I have not reproduced the above sections here apart from the following illustrations:


The Grammar School

Photo: R. Thompson

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Drawing of the extensions to the Ludwick Family Club

Architect: Louis de Soissons

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Homestead Court Hotel and Restauraunt

Architects: Louis de Soissons and Partners

Photo: R. Thompson

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Welwyn Department Store

Architects: Louis de Soissons and Partners

Photo: John Chear

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King George V Playing Fields

Photo: John Chear

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Bronze by Kathleen Scott (Lady Kennet of the Dene)

Photo: John Chear

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Parkway from the White Bridge

Photo: John Chear

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Monk's Walk

Photo: John Chear

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After these listings comes the most interesting part of this guide which is a series of articles about 25 local firms in a section called Industry and Commerce in the Garden City. Each article occupies a page and gives a short history of the firm, and some are illustrated with photographs which show people at work in the factories.


Industry and Commerce in the Garden City

Welgar Shredded Wheat

Welwyn Garden City is the home of a famous breakfast dish - Welgar Shredded Wheat. Shredded Wheat was first produced in America over sixty years ago and marketed in England at the beginning of this century. Between 1921 and 1924 sales grew so rapidly that it became necessary to build a factory in England, the newly founded Garden City being chosen as the site. The large factory, a bold new landmark, was opened on March 12th, 1926. Three years later the Shredded Wheat Co. Ltd. became associated with the National Biscuit Company of America which produces not only Shredded Wheat but numerous varieties of branded biscuits and wrapped bread.

1941 to 1947 were difficult business years because, under the Government zoning scheme, the Shredded Wheat Company was excluded from selling in certain areas where sales were strongly established. Zoning came to an end early in 1947 and from then onwards the company has steadily increased its share of the cereal market.

The aim of the company is the production of highest quality fresh food for Britain's breakfast tables, at the lowest cost. Only the finest wheat obtainable is used and constant care during the manufacturing processes maintains the purity and uniformity of the product. An efficient distributing organisation gets the product to the consumer in a factory-fresh condition. Shreddies (flavoured miniature biscuits), introduced this year, are being very enthusiastically welcomed all over the United Kingdom.

One of the huge ovens in which Shredded Wheat biscuits are baked

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Shredded Wheat old advertisement from the handbook

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I.C.I. - Plastics Division

The Plastics Division of Imperial Chemical Industries Limited, with headquarters at Welwyn Garden City, is one of the youngest Divisions in I.C.I., being formed in 1936 to co-ordinate the Company's plastics interests. In 1933 I.C.I. had become interested in the manufacture of plastics moulding powder in the Garden City through Kelacoma Ltd.'s plant in Broadwater Road and in 1937 the factory site at Black Fan Road was acquired. During the war the demand for I.C.I. plastics for essential government work exceeded the capacity of the Welwyn plants, and manufacture commenced in the North of England near sources of raw material. Today the activities of I.C.I. Plastics Division in the Garden City are largely restricted to research, technical service and administrative activities.

Both thermoplastic and thermosetting resins are manufactured by Plastics Division. 'Perspex' - a thermoplastic - is produced as sheet and tube in transparent and opaque, clear and coloured forms, whilst corrugated 'Perspex' sheets have found important applications for roof lighting. In the form of 'Kallodent' and 'Kallodentine,' polymethyl methacrylate, which is chemically identical to 'Perspex,' is used for the preparation of dentures and artificial teeth. Polyvinyl chloride (commonly known as P.V.C.) is another versatile thermoplastic. It is widely em ployed in the cable industry as a sheathing for electrical cables and in the manufacture of P.V.C. sheet which is well known as an attractive material for curtains, water-proof clothing and tablecloths. I.C.I. also manufactures nylon and the Plastics Division produces nylon monofilament and moulding powder.

Another important plastics material is 'Alkathene,' the trade name for polythene, one of the finest electrical insulating materials. This important thermoplastic material was discovered as the result of research work carried out by 1.C.I. scientists just before the last war. The latest newcomers to the range of I.C.I. plastics are 'Terylene' staple fibre and yarn which are opening up a vast market in the textile world. In March, 1951, the 'Terylene' Council was set up to control the development project but much of the research work is carried out in the laboratories of Plastics Division.

'Perspex' acrylic sheet - used in industry for a wide range of products

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I.C.I. old advertisement from the handbook

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Radio and T.V. by Murphy

Welwyn Garden City is the original home of Murphy Radio. The headquarters are still here, greatly expanded since the early days; but with growing recognition of the quality of its products the company has set up factories at Hirwaun and Skegness to cope with the increased demand. Outside the United Kingdom the picture has been much the same, and daughter companies have been established in Bombay, Durban and Dublin to meet the needs of overseas listeners.

In the last six years television has outgrown its original position as an "offshoot" of radio, and the manufacture of television sets now bulks very largely in the company's activities. There has also been a great expansion in the Electronics Division since the war and the company is energetically engaged on research, development and commercial production in this field. Associate companies make among other things diagnostic and electro-medical equipment for the medical profession and non-destructive testing equipment for industry.

Television sets nearing completion at the Murphy factory

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B.C.R. Factories Ltd.

Sandpaper, or coated abrasives as this group of products is more correctly described, is one of the things which the ordinary person does not think of as having to be made, nor does he realise how widely it is used in industry. We have all used a piece of glasspaper to finish off some home carpentry, or emery cloth to clean up a piece of metal work, but not many have used waterproof paper in a flow of water to get the paint work of a motor car to the right finish for the final coat, or seen a floor surfacing machine produce the same effect on a badly worn wood block floor as a mower on a tennis court.

These special types of coated abrasives, and the many others used largely on machines for preparing the surfaces of such widely separated products as furniture and felt hats and ships' propellers and shoe leather, need a high technical skill in manufacture and a scientific knowledge and control of the materials used. For instance, it is not easy to measure the thickness of a film of hot wet glue on a moving piece of paper, part of a reel which may be two miles long, but this and similar problems have been overcome at B.C.R. Factories in their constant efforts to improve the quality and regularity of their material. One of their products, made specially for metallurgical laboratories, uses so fine an abrasive that the coated side is smoother than the paper on which it is made! At the other end of the scale is material coarse enough to trim the roughest welded joint.

Coated abrasives used by many different industries for surface finishing

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Norton Grinding Wheel Co. Ltd.

The Welwyn Garden City factory of Norton Grinding Wheel Company Limited is one of the many Norton plants operating in eight different countries, making the Norton organisation the largest manufacturers of grinding wheels and other abrasive products in the world.

Grinding, the most universal, most basic of all production processes, plays an essential part in the manufacture of motor cars, aircraft engines, locomotives and marine engines as well as in the production of smaller but equally important items such as cutlery, china and glassware and spectacle lenses. In fact it would be difficult to think of a single manufactured article either industrial or domestic in which abrasives have not made possible better quality at a lower price.

More than one hundred trained scientists and technicians are constantly engaged on research for the company. Their work and the rigid control exercised in manufacture from the time the raw materials leave the Norton-owned Bauxite mines in Arkansas, U.S.A., until the finished products leave Welwyn Garden City have combined to make the name Norton the most famous in the field of abrasives throughout the world.

The Welwyn Garden City factory of Norton Grinding Wheel Co. Ltd.

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Norton old advertisement from the handbook

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State Express

Relative newcomers to the Garden City, State Express bring with them a reputation for quality unsurpassed in the cigarette-manufacturing industry. Their new premises in Welwyn represent the most recent addition to a chain of factories in London, Leeds, Dublin, Holland, Cyprus, and East Africa, all of which have been acquired as a result of the company's policy of world-wide expansion. Since their introduction in the eighteen-nineties, State Express have built up a great prestige throughout the world, as many who have travelled will remember.

Situated in Broadwater Road, the new factory has been converted from what were formerly the A.B.C. Film Studios. The conversion was a major operation, but has proved as successful as was originally envisaged and now State Express have, in their new factory, one that is as well equipped and modern as any. Improved lighting (both natural and artificial), heating and ventilating systems help to make the atmosphere most congenial for the employees.

Apart from key managerial positions, which have been filled from Head Office in London, the factory has been staffed almost entirely by local people, who have adapted themselves particularly well to the new industry. There are excellent canteen and medical facilities and a very flourishing social club to provide for the welfare of the staff.

The photograph shows the view of the factory from the railway. Outwardly the structure of the building is unaltered, apart from the large advertising sign which is rapidly becoming a landmark.

The State Express Factory

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State Express old advertisement from the handbook

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Macaroni Products

Many people at some time or another have wondered what macaroni is, precisely, and whether it is grown or manufactured. In fact, macaroni products are all manufactured from amberdurum semolina, milled from a special variety of wheat with the highest content of gluten (vegetable protein). Besides protein it contains a starch which is more readily assimilated than that from other available starch-containing foods. Every Crown Brand macaroni product is therefore a pure, easily digested, high energy-value food.

Modern, fully automatic machinery as illustrated on this page is used for the manufacture of Crown Brand Macaroni Products which include long spaghetti, vermicelli noodles, shells, etc.

Expert knowledge of the manufacture and scientific control of the intricate drying process of long spaghetti and macaroni is necessary in order to produce the finest brands in this country:

Crown Brand Spaghetti,
Crown Brand Very Fine Vermicelli,
Crown Brand Quick Cooking Macaroni, etc.

Modern machinery is required for the large scale production of macaroni products.
Here, long sgaphetti and long macaroni are being automatically produced
by the only machine of its type in the country

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The automatic production of curled vermicelli and curled noodles.
Again the only machine in operation in this country

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B.L.M. means Lead

British Lead Mills Ltd. was formed in 1932 and in 1937 became a public company. Due to an aggressive selling policy, the company from its inception expanded rapidly.

At the beginning the company only made ordinary sheet lead and lead pipe for building purposes, but after a year or so the manufacture of chemical sheet lead and lead pipe was begun. The range of the company's products was further increased by the addition of antimonial sheet lead and lead pipe and other lead alloys for the chemical and allied industries. During the war the company also turned out bullet rod, shrapnel balls and 25-pounder drill cartridges and charges, and it did many assembly jobs for the armed services.

After the war the company extended its activities further by the incorporation of refining of lead residues and lead scrap. This was followed in 1950 by the commencement of the manufacture of solder and other lead alloys. The company's plant includes a full size rolling mill, two extrusion presses, refining plant and other ancillary equipment.

Today, therefore, British Lead Mills serve many diverse industries, including the building, battery, cable-making, chemical and allied industries, and the needs of Government departments, with builders' and plumbers' sheet lead and lead pipe, chemical sheet and pipe, antimonial sheet and pipe, silver, copper and tellurium lead pipe, traps and bends, anodes, solder, sections and shapes, lead rod and wire. All products of British Lead Mills Limited are manufactured to British Standard Specifications under laboratory control.

The main rolling mill of British Lead Mills Ltd.

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Lincoln Electric's Welding School

The standard syllabus covers a practical three-week course for training arc-welding operators under expert supervision. Work commences with practice in down-hand welding.

The student then proceeds to corner butts and inside fillets on all thicknesses of metals. Vertical and overhead welding occupy the rest of the first week.

The second week commences with a test on the previous week's work and continues with instruction in cast iron, carbon arc, and light-gauge welding. The student then proceeds with the particular type of work he will be required to do when finally trained.

The last week is devoted to practice on previous operations, welding of aluminium, other special applications and a final test on specified metal.

During training stages a series of Lincoln "Arc Welding" films of instructive value are shown to the students in a specially equipped private cinema, after which discussions on various points of the films are handled by technical instructors.

It is interesting to note that in the last five years over 700 students qualified through this school and are now welding in many parts of the world.

The School's private cinema

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The interior of a welding booth

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Overhead fillet welding

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Lincoln Electric old advertisement from the handbook

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Plastra Components Ltd.

Messrs. Plastra Components Ltd., an associate Company of Messrs. Thermo-Plastics Ltd., Dunstable, were established in Welwyn Garden City during the war, when they were engaged solely on the manufacture of aircraft components and produced articles such as calibrated cupola domes, parachute stowages, ducts, windows, fairings, etc.

Since the war, in addition to carrying on with the manufacture of parts for the aircraft industry the firm's activities have broadened to cover other fields. A large range of components for the television and refrigerator industries is produced and the company specialises in the manufacture of displays and signs for advertising. Many new techniques are used in the production of these displays, and the majority of tools, screens, etc., are produced on the premises.

Up-to-date equipment is employed for the moulding, machining and finishing of many plastic materials.

Welwyn Metal Products Ltd.

The firm has been in business at Welwyn Garden City since 1936, and during that time it has been necessary to double the size of the original factory.

The original intention was to carry on sheet metal work specializing in horticultural appliances, but, shortly before the war, a change was made from this type of equipment to office and factory furniture and storage equipment.

Duiing the war the output was almost entirely concentrated on government work, especially on parts of the Churchill tank, but since the war the firm has once again returned to the office furniture field with every success.

The products of this Welwyn factory are exported to most parts of the world and so far it has been possible to reach, and in some cases exceed, the export target figures set by the Board of Trade. In addition, considerable quantities of storage equipment for the home market are manufactured.

Bourne Chemical Industries

Since its inception in 1939, Bourne Chemical Industries Ltd. has been continuously producing lead oxides, more generally known as red lead and litharge. The word 'continuously' is emphasised because the specialised type of plant required for the manufacture of lead oxides necessitates working 24 hours a day, seven days a week, except for holiday periods.

Formerly, the production of lead oxides was regarded as a hazardous process but the firm's modern plant of scientific design ensures absolute safety for the health of the operatives, together with the highest degree of efficiency in production.

To the general public red lead is familiar as a rust inhibitor, its bright orange-red colour being easily recognised on ships' hulls and various types of steelwork. Red lead, though, has numerous other vitally important usages, chief of these being in the manufacture of crystal glass, china and pottery, accumulators and cables. Litharge is also used by rubber, paint and accumulator manufacturers as well as in petroleum refining and the linoleum industry.

The lead oxides made by Bourne Chemical Industries are renowned wherever they are used, not only by manufacturers in the United Kingdom but throughout the world from Alaska to Zanzibar. The name of Bourne Chemical Industries Ltd. is synonymous with the highest quality of red lead produced, conforming to the British Standard Specification and noted for its purity, uniformity and brilliance.

Inside the factory of Bourne Chemical Industries Ltd.

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Some of the specialised plant

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Bourne Chemical Industries old advertisement from the handbook

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Welwyn Engineering Co. Ltd.

Welwyn Engineering Company Limited, of Bridge Road East, is an associate company of the London firm, Seal-Less Strapping Ltd. In the Welwyn factory is made the complete range of tensional steel strapping equipment marketed by Seal-Less Strapping Limited. This range includes high-tensile steel strip, in many different widths and thicknesses, rotating strapping tables and the Seal-Less Strapping Machines, which are made in many sizes for different strapping uses. The Seal-Less system of flat band strapping has certain special advantages; no costly separate seals are needed so that time, labour and materials are saved. Undetected pilferage is impossible as Seal-Less Strapping cannot be refastened once it has been undone. Packages strapped in this way are given extra strength and security for the Seal-Less join is very nearly as strong as the steel band itself. Seal-Less Strapping equipment made in Welwyn Engineering Company's works is used all over the world.

Another interesting product of this Welwyn factory is the new "Welwyn" Semi-Automatic Wire Tying Machine. With this machine packages and cartons can be securely wire-bound at very great speed with the minimum of effort. The machine is expertly designed to give the greatest possible reliability.

Other machines manufactured by Welwyn Engineering Company are framing machines for ladies' handbags and eyeletting and punching machines.

Plastics by E. R.Holloway Ltd.

The association of the E. R. Holloway Ltd. group of companies with Welwyn Garden City dates from 1934 when they transferred from Southgate a small factory engaged in the finishing of vulcanite combs.

The story of the progress of E. R. Holloway Ltd. and their associated companies may not be remarkable, but it is typical of that of the many family businesses whose contribution to the prosperity of this country has been so invaluable. A limited company was formed in 1924 and offices were taken in the City of London, but not until 1931 was any manufacturing done, and then it was only the finishing, by processes that now seem crude and laborious, of vulcanite combs. From the time when this small factory of the Barnet Comb Company arrived in the Garden City the manufacturing side of the business began to go ahead until within a few years almost all the goods sold by E. R. Holloway Ltd. were the products of their own subsidiary.

In 1938 the warehouse and offices left the City for the more attractive and convenient site adjacent to the factory. Since then and indeed even before, the record has been one of constant experiment and innovation, and of almost equally constant growth. An injection moulding machine was installed in 1936 and the Barnet Comb Company produced commercially the first injection-moulded comb in this country.

Lustrac Plastics Ltd., a further subsidiary, was formed in 1943 for the manufacture of moulding powders. This in turn proved a success. Not only were its cellulose acetate powders wanted for the group's own products, but a prosperous trade was built up with outside moulding firms. This company has now turned its attention to other materials besides celullose acetate and has extended its activities to include extrusion processes. It is thus able to meet the growing industrial demand for such articles as shaped rods and tubes.

The most recent addition to the group is Hydeway Ltd., a company started in 1949 for the production of welded plastic goods such as wallets, bags and purses. Again healthy progress can be reported.

For over thirty years now, the aim of the directors of this group has been to give a quality and a service second to none. The results speak for themselves. Since the end of the war, in spite of raw materials shortages and of increasing competition, the output of the group has increased by over 300 per cent in volume, and the increase by value has been even greater. Moreover, since a high proportion of its goods are sent overseas, the group has the satisfaction of knowing that it is making its contribution to the nation's export drive.

Throughout its history good relationships have been maintained between management and employees and every attention is given to the improvement of working conditions. For several years now all employees after three months' service participate in a profit-sharing scheme.

Catomance Ltd.

Catomance Ltd. may be said to have come to Welwyn Garden City in 1936, though it did in fact do so under the name of Catomance Processing Co. Ltd., with the object of developing the use of a new method of waterproofing textiles. The Company then occupied a single factory in Bridge Road East.

The name of the company was changed to its present title in 1938, when the actual processing of textiles was abandoned in Welwyn Garden City, and efforts were concentrated on the manufacture and sale of the chemical compound itself, which necessitated a small expansion into a second sectional factory adjoining the first.

Between 1938 and the beginning of the war, the range was developed from one single waterproofing compound to about seven different varieties for specialised purposes, and during the war the company's activities expanded rapidly into other fields. A great deal of specialised work was done for all the service departments, but in particular, relations with the Ministry of Aircraft Production were such that the company was, in fact, an official test station for that department.

By 1947 some twenty-five different products were in regular production, covering not only waterproofing but moth-proofing and rot-proofing as well, with a further forty available products for particular specialised work. During the latter part of the war, Catomance Ltd. began the development of an entirely new manufacture which was in fact destined to be a major contribution to textile processing. This body, known as pentachlorphenyl laurate, is a rotproof for all types of textiles, in particular, but it has many other applications as well. It is used on timber, plastics, leather and cork, and has found much favour with the motor car trade for the protection of export vehicles against tropical conditions.

This development is in line with the company's policy of keeping ahead, and as the only firm in the country specialising in the three fields of waterproofing, mothproofing and rotproofing, new products and processes are essential.

By 1951 it was vital to find larger premises, but unfortunately it was impossible to expand at Bridge Road East; finally, in 1952, additional premises were found in Broadwater Road. There a new plant for the manufacture of pentachlorphenyl laurate was set up, with a capacity several times larger than the original one at Bridge Road, and there too went some of the offices and laboratories with their staffs, so as to release space at Bridge Road East for still further productive capacity. The first batches from the new plant came off early in 1953, and steady production is now under way.

Further developments are in hand, and it seems likely that yet more space will be needed before long, for this small but successful and still growing company.

Catomance old advertisement from the handbook

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Barcley Corsets Ltd.

It is necessary when giving a résumé of the formation of Barcley Corsets Ltd. to go back to the end of the last century: the year 1899, and the country America, for it was then and there that this company was founded.

Harry W. Barcley was a master tailor. It was he who conceived the idea of making made-to-measure foundations for women, and so commenced the world-renowned Barcley Corset Co. (Incorporated), with its ultimate home in Newark, New Jersey, and its recent acquirement of a capacious manufacturing plant in Florida, California, under the guidance of its President, Gaylord A. Barcley, son of the founder.

The present British company was established in Welwyn Garden City in June of 1927, this being the outcome of the success attending the efforts over some years in building up a sales organisation in this country. Previously Barcley foundations were supplied direct from the U.S.A.

It is largely due to the recognition of the medical profession that specialist corsetry could be successfully applied to relieve and correct bodily affliction and suffering in both women and men, that encouraged the Barcley Company to create specially designed supports to alleviate distress in cases of particular diseases of both spine and abdomen. Today our own National Health Service includes facilities for surgical supports to be obtained by those in need through all hospitals, and today the Barcley organisation numbers many hundreds of fully-trained women, known as Barcley Registered Corsetieres, whose work is to meet the requirements, both surgical and non-surgical, of the women of this country for specialised corsetry.

The fashion experts rightly contend that no matter how costly is the ensemble of the modern woman, it can only be worn to advantage over a perfectly fitting foundation. During the late war, the whole production of the company was turned over to the supply of surgical supports, and these were given high priority as a national requirement.

For the ambitious female juveniles of this locality, Barcley Corsets Limited provide a useful training on work that is highly skilled, and incidentally its value can be turned to good account throughout the future life of the trainee.

Barcley Corsets old advertisement from the handbook

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Dawnays Ltd. Specialists in Steelwor

Dawnays Limited, structural engineers, Weiwyn Garden City, occupy well-equipped modern engineering shops, covering several acres, in the main industrial area of the town.

As one of the leading structural engineering concerns in Britain, the company has been responsible since 1870, when it was first established, for the design, supply and erection of the steelwork in many of the fine buildings erected throughout the kingdom. In many countries abroad there are instances of the company's work.

In recent times the company has had a large share in helping to build the new power stations and oil refineries in various parts of Britain and also has played its part in making a start on the rebuilding of the bombed cities.

In addition to the works at Welwyn Garden City the company owns five other works located at Battersea (where the head office is situated), Norwich, Hull, Swansea and Cardiff. There are selling offices at Southampton, Peterborough, Romford and Victoria Street, London.

The company's organisation and resources are such that structural engineering projects of any magnitude are within its compass, and highly experienced technical representatives are always available to assist and co-operate with architects and contractors in meeting their requirements to the best advantage.

In addition to designing, fabricating and erecting steel-framed buildings and bridges, the company also undertakes the manufacture of hoppers and conveyors, derricks and masts, crane gantries and structures, barges and pontoons, wagon frames for rail and road vehicles and steel pressings.

The Broadwater Press Ltd.

(Founded 1928)

Founded initially to provide a service for a new and growing community, the company is now firmly established as one of that small and select group of quality printers whose work is known, appreciated, and used by some of the most famous commercial and cultural organisations in the country. This development is the direct outcome of twenty-five years' concentration on craftsmanship. The company believes that what is printed is intended to be read, and that the better printed it is, the more effective it will be. Hence the same care is put into a shopkeeper's billhead or a church magazine as into the most impressive productions for the B.B.C., de Havilland Aircraft, the Cambridge University Press, or any other quality-conscious customer of similar distinction.

Hand-picked and long-service staff are backed by first-class modern plant and machinery in every department. A wide and carefully chosen range of contemporary and traditional type-faces for text and display purposes is available in the large monotype section; the machine-room is equipped with a comprehensive variety of automatic presses, many of them built and installed in the last two or three years; bindery and warehouse are fully mechanized; and a subsidiary company provides on-the-spot services for process engraving and lithography.

Welwyn Builders Ltd.

Welwyn Builders Ltd. (formed in 1921) is an associated company of Howardsgate Trust Ltd. (the successor to Welwyn Garden City Ltd.) and has been responsible for most of the large commercial and industrial buildings, the majority of the houses, and for all the original engineering works of the town, including roads and sewers.

In addition, large-scale building has been undertaken in London and the home counties. In the comparatively short history of the firm, an impressive record has been built up of the construction, not only in Hertfordshire, but in all the surrounding counties, of schools, factories, banks, public buildings and building and civil engineering work of all kinds.

Versatility is an attribute that can justly be claimed for Welwyn Builders Limited. The creation of a new town makes many special demands upon the resources of its resident building force, and it is this need which has produced in Welwyn Builders Limited the ability to execute every job known in the building world from the smallest repair to a mammoth factory, and to apply to each an equal degree of skill and care.

Welwyn Builders Ltd. is a firm retaining the old tradition of training its own craftsmen by apprenticeship. Craftsmanship, aided by every worthwhile development of building technique, enables Welwyn Builders Limited to occupy a leading position among contractors in the neighbourhood.

The famous Skarsten Scrapers

THE firm was started in 1934 and became a limited company in 1939. At first only the factory at 21 Hyde Way was occupied, but business increased and early in 1938 two more factories at 7 and 9 Broadwater Road were leased. After the war further accommodation was required and an extension was built on to the Hyde Way factory. Even now still more factory space is needed to cope with the ever-increasing demands.

The main products of the factories are Skarsten scrapers and accessories. A few other tools are made, however, namely the "Awl screw" combined screwdriver and bradawl, the repointing scraper for bricklayers and the channelling tool for masons, plumbers and electricians. The Skarsten scraper is a time- and labour-saving implement for professional and home use for paint stripping. It removes old finishes dry and the serrated blade, a late addition to the range of scraping blades, breaks up old paint like a plough, while the straight edges are for smooth finishing. When Skarsten scrapers are applied as they should be, a finish superior to any other tools or sandpaper is obtained, hence their use now in schools, technical colleges and wherever woodwork is taught. That the Skarsten scraper is "a craftsman's tool an amateur can use" and a time- and labour-saver, has been proved over and over again.

Skarsten scrapers old advertisement from the handbook

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Poultry Services Ltd.

This company has grown out of one of Welwyn Garden City's earliest developments - the New Town Agricultural Guild which began in 1921. Under its present name it has been in existence for 22 years and has recently moved into new premises at Brickwall which are generally regarded as among the most up-to-date in the country. There are also two farms at Danesbury Park, Old Welwyn and at Bayford where accredited breeding work and outdoor rearing are carried on.

The business has been built up to its present output of 600,000 chicks annually by the steady and continuous process of providing good chicks and good service. That is why the company's well-known slogan, "Our chicks speak for themselves," expresses the fundamental principle of our method of trading.

The new Hatchery as seen from the Great North Road

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Poultry Services old advertisement from the handbook

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Frederick Palmer - Builder and Contractor

Mr. Palmer, craftsman, designer and builder, established his business in Letchworth in 1905 and in Welwyn Garden City in 1924. The Free Church at Welwyn Garden City and, of course, many private houses are examples of his fine brickwork, and specimens of his first-class woodwork, including lecterns, tables, communion rails, etc., may be seen in the Free Church and St. Francis' Church.

The works are in the factory area of the Garden City, for the business is primarily concerned with the building and furnishing of factory premises.

A staff of expert craftsmen is maintained including concretors, bricklayers, joiners, carpenters, plumbers and painters.

The Bridge Road Restaurant

The Bridge Road Restaurant was established in 1936 primarily for the purpose of catering for the employees of those factories which were then without canteens of their own. In 1941 the premises were placed at the disposal of a local firm for use solely as a works canteen. Mr. James R. Wright, Managing Director of the restaurant, served in the R.AF. during the war as a catering officer and not until 1947 was he able to resume his business once more.

The seating capacity of the restaurant is 90 and, in addition to lunches, morning refreshments and teas, suppers are served. It is hoped to be able to extend the premises shortly in order to provide seating for a further 130 people.

Pocklington & Johnson

This firm was established in 1922 in Clerkenwell Road, London, and has, over the ensuing years, directed its activities solely to spring-making, both for ordinary commercial and precision jobs of all descriptions.

The firm's equipment consists of the latest types of both helical and torsional spring-making machines, and the Strip Department, in particular, is considered to be second to none. The latest types of electrically controlled furnaces and tempering apparatus are in use.

The staff consists of men, many of whom have had over 20 years' service with the firm and who are well versed in the manufacture of all types of springs.

During and since the last war, Pocklington & Johnson have been favoured with contracts and sub-contracts, all calling for work of the finest quality and precision, both from H.M. Government and many well-known British firms, whose names stand for the highest standard of craftsmanship in all their products.

Since the removal of the main office and works to Welwyn Garden City in 1937 the business has multiplied many times; this is attributed not only to the most careful attention given to all orders and enquiries but also to the excellent conditions under which the work is carried out.

Messrs. Pocklington & Johnson are at all times pleased to quote for all enquiries, whether they are large or small.

Pocklington & Johnson old advertisement from the handbook

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Studio Lisa

After choosing a central position in the town, Jimmie and Lisa Sheridan built a photographic studio to their own specifications in Welwyn Garden City in March, 1934. Studio Lisa had previously operated from a small studio in Broadstairs and was already well known in the Press and advertising world for the illustrations provided for commercial products and for special magazine features.

In Welwyn Garden City the Sheridans branched out in portraiture and within two years they had the honour of taking informal photographs of the then Duke and Duchess of York with their children, Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret.

From time to time, as the Royal Princesses grew up, Jimmie and Lisa Sheridan photographed them together with their parents, so that a unique and historical record exists of our young Queen as a child among her toys, as a young girl at her lessons and her games, performing in a variety of gay scenes in the Royal pantomimes at Windsor Castle during the war, working in her own suite at Buckingham Palace, and more recently with her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, and her children, in equally informal and 'off duty' photographs taken at Balmoral Castle.

The faces of many local citizens have achieved nation-wide familiarity on posters, and in magazines, for the studio draws upon local babies, children, and adults to act as photographic models for such purposes. One little girl in particular has been photographed year by year from the age of nine months onwards and today, at the age of sixteen, is still an active 'number' on the models list.

Today Studio Lisa has opened a branch commercial studio in London where their cameramen cover a wide field of activities, but Jimmie and Lisa Sheridan prefer to remain and to work in Welwyn Garden City, among their many friends.

Photograph by Studio Lisa from the handbook

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Photograph by Studio Lisa from the handbook

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Studio Lisa old advertisement from the handbook

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Directory of Roads

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Directory of Residents

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More old advertisements from the handbook

H. J. Edward (Tailors) Ltd. old advertisement from the handbook

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Betsy Ltd old advertisement from the handbook

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Guessens Hotel old advertisement from the handbook

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Whitbread old advertisement from the handbook

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Arthur J. Howard old advertisement from the handbook

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District map

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Welwyn Garden City street plan

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Index to streets

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