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Welwyn Garden City
Author: Anthony Wigens
Published: 1970 by Terence Dalton Limited of Lavenham, Suffolk
Format: Hardback 9" by 7" with 128 pages
(click image to enlarge)
The subject of the book is mostly topographical description, but included are accounts of historical events which have taken place in the county. There are about 90 black and white photographs in the book of which five relate to Welwyn Garden City.
(Dust-jacket inner front flap)
Hertfordshire has seen many changes throughout the course of history. Anthony Wigens has traced some of these changes in this book and provided an entertaining glimpse into the county.
He tells of the historical past including the Battles of St. Albans where Lancastrian and Yorkist forces met during the Wars of the Roses and the first Privy Council held by Queen Elizabeth I in the Old Palace at Hatfield: of the development of Garden Cities and New Towns in more recent times: of old houses, and by-ways, motor-ways, waterways and tales of highwaymen.
It is not a guide book in the more accepted sense, and yet in both text and pictures it carries out this role exceptionally well.
The large number of photographs are of a high standard and capture the atmosphere of the county and the towns, villages and countryside which make up Hertfordshire.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
(Dust-jacket inner rear flap)
"The only other career I considered before embarking on journalism was forestry" says Anthony Wigens. "I had the idea that the life of a forester would be spent roaming between tall trees clutching a pair of 8 x 30 binoculars."
To-day, with his own publicity and publishing firm, he says he is able to work on a wider variety of projects than any other single job could offer. "A View into Hertfordshire" claimed Mr. Wigens "is a very personal account of my chosen county".
Born at Harrow in 1931, married and with two sons, he feels that Hertfordshire has a pretty firm grip on him now. He came to work there first as a junior reporter, with "Welwyn Times", returning fourteen years later to the same publishers, Welwyn Publications, as deputy managing director.
Mr. Wigens has published two other books on the County, "Dial & Dine in Hertfordshire" (1969) and "Hertfordshire Gardens" (1970), and was appointed publicity consultant for Welwyn Garden City's Golden Jubilee Year in 1970.
INDEX OF ILLUSTRATIONS
The great majority of the photographs in this book were taken by Mimram Studio of Welwyn Garden City. They are the work of the author and Ian Wagner and of other local photographers commissioned by Mimram Studio, notably Stan Ackroyd and Keith Dobney. Other photographs were supplied through the courtesy of the Civic Trust and the British Waterways Board, for whose co-operation the author would like to express his sincere thanks.
One foggy evening in 1952 my parents drove me into Welwyn Garden City and helped me to unload a suitcase and my bicycle outside my new lodgings. Then they vanished into the gloom. I had arrived in Hertfordshire, the new junior reporter on the "Welwyn Times". For a year I learnt the trade from my editor, Charles Dalton. By day I covered the northerly villages of our mid-Herts circulation area returning, by bicycle, to report such evening events as parish council meetings in Codicote, Knebworth, Welwyn, Tewin or Datchworth.
Fourteen years later I returned to Hertfordshire, at Mr Dalton's invitation, and joined the board of Welwyn Publications Limited, proprietors of the "Welwyn Times". Much had changed, but the villages held the same appeal for me — though now, as a motorist, I winced at the thought of the miles I had pedalled ! During this second period I started a new weekly newspaper for the nearby New Town of Stevenage and began to broaden my personal involvement with Hertfordshire.
Now I am an independent journalist, with an office in Welwyn Garden City, and a house just outside the boundary, at Digswell, on the high ground overlooking the River Mimram — a river whose name I was proud to use for two of my businesses, Mimram Press Services and Mimram Studio.
My work in publicity, publishing and photography constantly takes me away from my typewriter and into the driving seat, to head north, south, east or west on some new assignment or other. Too often I find myself asking, like any motorist, which is the quickest way to Hitchin, or how can I get through to Rickmansworth before the traffic builds up too much ? Life is rushed, restless, and no matter how intrigued I may be by a beckoning signpost inviting me to explore a new hamlet or a brief glimpse of a quiet reed-fringed stream, I can rarely give in to the temptation.
This book then is my atonement for the way in which I have unintentionally neglected my county. To write it I had to extend earlier casual explorations more earnestly, to verify information I had acquired as hearsay, to read books of which I previously only knew the titles, and to spend hours photographing places which before had been seen only as a fleeting glimpse through the car window.
The work has been a great pleasure for me. If it brings half that pleasure to each reader it will be doubly justified in the writing. What I have learnt about Hertfordshire would fill many books. What I have still to learn will fill many happy years.
Three pictures from the book
| Smith, Kline and French
laboratories, Welwyn Garden City
| Pubs and old School House,
| The old mill and mill stream, Lemsford
The Buildings of England: Hertfordshire by Nikolaus Pevsner, Penguin Books, 1953.
Hertfordshire by W. Branch Johnson based on the previous work of Herbert W. Tompkins, Methuen & Co. Ltd., 1957.
Hertfordshire Inns (part one East Herts, part two West Herts) by W. Branch Johnson, Hertfordshire Countryside, 1962, 1963.
Hertfordshire Past and Present, annual publication of the Hertfordshire Local History Council.
The Dial & Dine guide to Hertfordshire, Mimram Press, 1968.
Countryside Leisure in Hertfordshire, Home Publishing Company.
Fenland River. The story of the Great Ouse and its tributaries by Rodney Tibbs, Terence Dalton Limited, 1969.
Hertfordshire Gardens, Mimram Press, 1970.
The Victoria History of the County of Hertford, 1902-14.
History of Hertfordshire by E. Cussans, 1870-81.
History and Antiquities of Hertfordshire by R. Clutterbuck, 1815-27.
The Historical Antiquities of Hertfordshire by Sir Henry Chauncy, 1700.