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Welwyn Garden City

Welwyn Garden City. The Official Handbook (1956)

Author: Mrs. D. Frankl (compiler and general editor)

Published: 1956 by Ed. J. Burrow & Co. Ltd.

Format: Paperback 8½" by 5½" with 92 pages

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This handbook was published by authority of the Welwyn Garden City Development Corporation and the Urban District Council. The handbook is very similar in content to the 1953/54 handbook except it is much slimmer not having within it the residents' directories. Some of the photographs are repeats from the earlier handbook and I am not including those ones here. My notes on the 1953/54 handbook can be reached via the WGC book index link at the top of this page, or just click here to go straight to the earlier handbook.

At the back is a fold-out street plan of the town measuring 14" by 10" (reproduced at the bottom), and a fold-out map of Hertfordshire (7" by 9") showing Welwyn Garden City at its heart (see the 1953/54 handbook for this map.) 28 pages of the handbook are taken up with advertisements for local companies.

The first feature is a short 2-page history of the town identical to that in the 1953/54 guide except that the population has been altered from 20,000 to 27,000 and the number of banks from 3 to 5. Following this is an 8-page chronology entitled Milestones, very similar to the 1953/54 ones except brought up to date.



The 1956 handbook gives milestones for the years 1919 to 1956. However, the entries for 1919 to 1953 are almost identical to those which appeared in the 1953/54 handbook for which click here. The only differences I can find in the version in the current handbook (1956) are the insertions of 4 extra entries all relating to church events. These 4 are given below.



In April the Hatfield Hyde Free Church was constituted.



New Congregational Church Hall opened in Woodhall Lane by Sir Ebenezer Howard.



Woodhall Lane Church Hall renamed Welwyn Garden City Congregational Church.



New permanent building for the Congregational Church in Woodhall Lane opened and dedicated alongside the Hall.





New block of 12 shops and offices in Stonehills opened.

"The Hyde" made available by the Development Corporation for social activities in Hatfield Hyde area.

New Hall, with church bay, adjacent to Ludwick House, opened by the Hon. David Bowes-Lyon for use of the Ludwick Family Club.

Resignation of Brigadier H. L. R. Matthews from membership of the Development Corporation. Mr. R. A. Humbert and Mr. R. C. Simmons appointed as members later in the year.

Ludwick neighbourhood centre in Hall Grove, consisting of seven shops and a public house (the Ludwick Arms), completed.

Approval received from the Minister of Housing and Local Government to the increase of the ultimate population from 36,500 to 50,000 without increasing the designated area.

Closing of builders' hostel at Mill Green Camp.


First stage of new factory for Murphy Radio completed.

A garage and petrol filling station completed in Ludwick Centre and another in Fretherne Road.

Minister of Housing and Local Government (Mr. Duncan Sandys) visits town.

Lord Balniel elected M.P. for the new division of Hertford (which includes Welwyn Garden City) in General Election.

Mr. R. G. Gosling awarded the C.B.E. in Birthday Honours List.

The new Health Centre built by the County Council in Gooseacre opened by Miss Pat Hornsby-Smith, Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health.

Thumbswood Infant School opened. First headmistress, Miss M. W. Brook.

Scheme of 127 houses for sale in Moorlands area completed and sold by Development Corporation. Further similar scheme of 89 houses started in same area.

Church for Pentecostal Assembly built.

Mimram Sewer completed.

Mr. R. L. Reiss resigned from the Development Corporation through ill-health.

Mr. G. R. Lowe not re-appointed at the end of the year. Dr. Margaret Emslie appointed a member.


Synagogue for the Jewish Community completed.

Mr. Louis de Soissons awarded C.V.O. in New Year Honours List.

Work started on more shops in Stonehills.

Work started on new hospital to serve Welwyn Garden City and Hatfield.

16 shops and one bank completed in Woodhall Centre.

Heronswood Secondary Modern School opened. First headmaster, R. Bainbridge, B.Sc.

New Grammar School pupils temporarily housed in Heronswood Secondary Modern School. First headmaster, C. L. V. Gilbey, M.A.

Rollswood Infant School opened. First headmistress, Mrs. F. R. Alcock.

Howlands Junior School opened. First headmistress, Mrs. F. M. Cann.





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 Registrar-General's estimate (June)
In 1954 Registrar-General's estimate (June)
In 1955 Registrar-General's estimate (June)
In 1956 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
1956 Estimated by U.D.C. at March
occupied 7,906

The number of dwellings built by the Urban District Council at the 31st March, 1956, was 2,319 of which 970 had been completed since 1945.

The number completed by the Development Corporation at the same date was 2,274, 134 of which were houses built for sale.

Between 1945 and 31st March, 1956, 149 houses had been completed by private builders.




Welwyn Garden City Urban District Council

Council Offices: Bridge Road, Welwyn Garden City

Chairman: Councillor Mrs S. G. Walker, J.P.

Handside Ward Hollybush Ward Peartree Ward Howlands Ward

B. Carne
J. Chear
G. Dickson
H. W. Dorton
D. Newton
R. D. Stirk

S. R. Collingwood
A. E. Luddington
A. Vickery

S. W. Palacio
W. H. Playle
H. Shepherd

H. S. Jaggers
J. McKnight
F.C. Salmon


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: J. W. Hooper
Registrar - Births, Deaths and Marriages: Miss M. H. V. Hopkinson

General Rate in the £ for 1956-57:
Water Rate: 1/- in the £ on the net annual value of a dwelling house.

Council Meetings: last Tuesday each month (except August) at 8 p.m.

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
B. Carne
A. E. Luddington

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
1952 to 1955 W. H. Playle
From 1955 J. Chear



Welwyn Garden City Development Corporation

4 Wigmores South, Howardsgate

Chairman: R. G. Gosling, C.B.E., J.P.

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


Dr. Margaret Emslie
R. A. Humbert, T.D., F.R.I.C.S.
W. H. Playle, J.P.
R. C. Simmons

General Manager: J. E. McComb, D.F.C.
Assistant General Manager and Chief Legal Officer: W. A. Clarke
Chief Administrative Officer: D. G. Hewlings, D.F.C., A.F.C.
Chief Engineer: A. G. J. Cornner, M.B.E., M.I.Mun.E., M.R.San.I.
Chief Estates Officer: W. R. Swallow, A.R.I.C.S.,A.A.I.
Comptroller: H. T. Tigwell
Construction Manager: W. C. C. Press, F.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, C.V.O., O.B.E., R.A., F.R.I.B.A.

Next in the handbook is a section headed General Information which includes places of worship, and school, health, and other council services.

There is a 2-page professional directory listing accountants, architects, chiropodists, densists, estate agents, opticians, osteopath, solicitors, surveyor, and teachers of music, dancing, etc.

There is a 5-page listing headed Societies and Clubs, and a 4-page listing of Youth Organizations, which give name, address and contact telephone numbers.

There is a 6-page Commercial and Industrial Directory listing of companies in the town.

The above listungs are not reproduced here.

In a section headed Industry and Commerce are a number of short articles describing companies in Welwyn Garden City, some illustrated by black-and-white photographs. Some of these are the same (or very similar) to the articles which appeared in the 1953/54 handbook (accessible via the link at the top of this page) and I have not included those ones again below. The ones omitted are: Crown Brand Macaroni Products, Poultry Services Ltd, The Broadwater Press Ltd, Lincoln Electrics Welding School, Plastra Components Ltd, Welwyn Metal Products Ltd, E. R. Holloway Ltd, Barcley Corsets Ltd, B. C. R. Factories Ltd, and Pocklington & Johnson Ltd.


Industry and Commerce in the Garden City

Danish Bacon Company Limited

Through its group of companies, the Danish Bacon Company is the largest importer and wholesaler of bacon and one of the biggest distributors in Britain of a wide range of provisions and food products.

In its organisation DBC is associated with 37 Danish bacon factories and over 40 creameries, and owns a number of egg packing stations in this country.

The threat of war influenced the decision to move the accounting and administrative staffs from London to Welwyn Garden City in 1938. New offices at Howardsgate were occupied in 1954.

Mr. Frank Herbert, who has had a long association with the Garden City, is the Company's Chairman.

Homestead Court Hotel

Homestead Court Hotel, Welwyn Garden City, situated in Homestead Lane, is a large, fully licensed 3 Star A.A. and R.A.C. hotel, owned by the Welwyn Garden and Hatfield Development Corporation.

The restaurant has become well known for its good food and pleasant surroundings, and its Saturday Dinner Dance brings guests from far and near.

The rooms are pleasantly furnished in a modern manner to give the maximum of comfort. Although it is slightly off the main road the hotel is well worth a visit.

Homestead Court Hotel and Restaurant

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Royal Exchange Assurance

The Royal Exchange Assurance is one of the oldest Insurance Offices in the world, having been incorporated by Royal Charter in 1720. Its Head Office was then, as it is now, nearly two and a half centuries later, situated at the Royal Exchange in the City of London. It has branch offices in all the principal towns in the United Kingdom as well as in most countries overseas.

Although the Royal Exchange Assurance has an ancient origin, it is modern and up to date in its outlook and as early as 1935 the decision was made to mechanise, by means of a punched card installation, the accounting and renewal systems. This venture proved most successful and in 1939 this branch of the organisation was removed to premises in Welwyn Garden City. Despite the setbacks occasioned by the last war, a steady expansion has taken place until in 1956 it became necessary to move to new and larger premises which were erected at 99 Bridge Road East. This building has been specially designed for work of this type, particular attention having been given to attractive colour schemes in the contemporary fashion with congenial working conditions together with special features in the machine rooms to minimise noise.

Since the earliest days of the Welwyn Garden City the Royal Exchange Assurance has been associated with its progress and has an office for general insurance business at Wigmores North.

Royal Exchange Assurance mechanised accounting offices

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Royal Exchange Assurance old advertisement from the handbook

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B. L. M. Means Lead

British Lead Mills Limited was formed in 1932, and is now a member of the Firth Cleveland Group of Companies. Due to a progressive selling policy, the company from its inception expanded rapidly.

At the outset the company made only sheet lead and pipe for building purposes, but after a year or so the manufacture of chemical lead sheet and pipe was begun. The range of the company's products was further increased by the addition of antimonial lead sheet and pipe and other alloys for the chemical plating and allied industries. From 1939 to 1945 the company also produced bullet rod, shrapnel balls, and 25-pounder drill cartridges and charges, and many assembly jobs were performed for the armed services.

After the war the company extended its activities further by the incorporation of the refining of lead residues and scrap.

Then came manufacture of solder and other lead alloys. Recently a great deal of work has been done on the provision of shielding walls for radio-active materials and at Welwyn Garden City a technique has been evolved for the production of a brick for building up protective walls which is far in advance of any similar product.

For many years a major nuisance in all walks of life has been condensation. As a result of years of research and testing, British Lead Mills are able now to offer the answer to this problem - Seculate. Seculate is a material which is applied like paint, but unlike any paint, really does prevent condensation. To complement Seculate, B.L.M. market a complete range of industrial and domestic paints under the trade mark 'WELBRAND'. They also sell Surform, the handyman's "must", which is made by their associate company Simmonds Aerocessories Ltd.

Today, therefore, British Lead Mills serve many diverse industries from builders to chemical manufacturers, canteens to carpenters, from the ancient art of plumbing to the atomic energy of the nuclear age. All products are manufactured to British Standard Specifications where applicable, under modern laboratory control, and are delivered promptly by a fleet of specially designed lorries.

[The text of this article is altered from the 1953/54 version hence I have included it. The illustration of the lead rolling mill accompanying the article is the same as before and I have not included it again here.]

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. It soon became apparent that even more factory space was needed to cope with the ever increasing demand, so last year three new bays were acquired adjoining 21 Hyde Way, with an additional 5,000 square feet of factory premises, enabling the firm to now keep abreast of the demand.

The main products of the factories are Skarsten Scrapers and accessories and, in addition, an electric paint stripper-scraper, a more recent article, which is recognized as being the best tool of its kind on the market.

The latest implement is the Ceilingwall Scraper, fulfilling a long felt need. It is so constructed that it will collect scrapings from ceilings and walls whether they be of whitewash, distemper, or other material.

Some other tools are also manufactured, namely the "Awlscrew" combined screwdriver and bradawl, the repointing scraper for bricklayers and the channelling tool for masons, plumbers, and electricians, together with the Skarsten Masonry Bit, which like the scraping hooks can easily be re-sharpened with a file, and the Skarsten folding pocket file is recommended as it is constructed specially for this purpose.

The firm is proud to mention that Skarsten products have been awarded the Seal of Merit by the Good Housekeeping Institute.

[Text altered from 1953/54 article.]

Skarsten Scrapers old advertisement from the handbook

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Herault Studio Ltd.

Herault Studio Ltd. was formed in 1946 to provide a comprehensive publicity service to the industry coming into the new town.

Its first task was the production of two magazines and a silk screen printing service. The next development was the designing and construction of exhibition stands, displays, and in fact every kind of dealer aid.

Today it combines letterpress printing, silk screen printing on metal, card, and paper, and other materials, designing and art work and the manufacture of displays singly or in quantity. It has earned a reputation for quality and exhibition stands have taken its employees all over this country and abroad.

Its managing director, Mr. Gerald Dickson, because of his wide experience as a designer and executive, has been able to bring this company well to the fore in its particular and specialised field.

Service has always been the aim and the achievement of Herault Studio, and this will continue into the bright future assured for this company.

Young Wilson Ltd.

Although quite a small company, Young Wilson Ltd. does, nevertheless, manufacture a wide range of products that find a ready market with a variety of modern industries. The firm is a sub-contractor to the aircraft, guided weapon, electrical, rubber, plastic, and allied, industries, all of which ensure a stable and prosperous future for the company. It can readily be appreciated that these industries demand work of a very precise nature, and in this connection it might be mentioned that the company is particularly interested in experimental undertakings.

Machining in all materials is carried out and the company manufactures prototypes, jigs, fixtures, and tools. A further branch of the firm's work is milling, turning, and grinding, in addition to welded fabrications.

Commensurate with the requirements of the A.I.D. a fully-equipped inspection department is available and this does ensure that the company's high quality workmanship is maintained in every way. As a matter of fact, the firm owns a 100-magnifications optical projector and this gives some indication of the type and class of work that is carried out.

The company is, at present, situated at Mill Green, Hatfield. However, there have, for some time, been plans to move into Welwyn Garden City. Unfortunately these plans have, on two occasions, been thwarted by the credit squeeze.

W. H. Barker

Since its beginning five years ago, W. H. Barker has been supplying high-class machined parts, under contract, to leading local industries.

The wide variety of work undertaken includes centre-lathe turning, horizontal and vertical milling, drilling, and grinding. Tools and fixtures are also manufactured and only highly skilled labour is employed.

To keep up with its expansion the concern is looking forward to opening new, larger, premises locally.




More old advertisements from the handbook

Cromac Biscuits old advertisement from the handbook

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Bulmer's (calculators) old advertisement from the handbook

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Photographs from the handbook

Some of the photographs in the 1956 handbook are the same as ones which appeared in the 1953/54 handbook. I have not shown those again here. The ones omitted for this reason are Coronation Fountain, Sir Ebenezer Howard, Council Offices, Urban District Council housing at Hatfield Hyde, King George V Playing Fields, Monk's Walk, and Bronze by Kathleen Scott.

Shops and offices at Stonehills

Photo: Colin Westwood

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Templewood School

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The Hyde

Photo: Ray W. Kingdom

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Flats at Mountway

Photo: Colin Westwood

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Sweet Briar

Photo: Studio One

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Fold-out street plan from the handbook

Welwyn Garden City Street Plan

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Index to streets

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