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Welwyn Garden City
Author: L. Elgar Pike
Published: 1970 by Home Publishing Co. Ltd, Carshalton
Format: Paperback 8½" by 5½"
with 100 pages.
The 1970 Welwyn Garden City Official Guide has been completely revamped and has some interesting factual articles about the organisation of the town, and marks a break from earlier guides I have seen (1964/65 guide and before) which were becoming re-hashes and had got a bit stale. The new guide is illustrated with seventeen well-reproduced black-and-white photographs from round the town. The guide is of length 100 pages of which 43 pages are taken with advertisements. There is also a 14" by 10" fold-out street plan which is almost identical to the one in the 1969/70 Directory. See my notes on that publication for the differences between the two maps.
The name L. Elgar Pike appears at the end of the sub-section Sherrardspark Wood but before Industrial Review. I assume he wrote most of the text in the guide. He has also written guides to Chesham Bois, Amersham, and Broadway.
The photographs are by Peter C. Brown of Welwyn Photographers Ltd. apart from the one showing the Lincoln Electric factory (and those from advertisements).
This disclaimer is printed at the end of the section headed Industrial Review:
WELWYN GARDEN CITY
The Hertfordshire County Council and the Welwyn Garden City Urban District Council are responsible for the administration of this new town of over 40,000 inhabitants which will, by natural increase, attain an ultimate population of 50,000 within the planned future. The Commission for the New Towns are responsible for the management of the property it owns in the town.
The contemporary development of satellite towns in Great Britain, both to relieve the congestion in the over-populated large cities and to provide the opportunity for more spacious community planning in pleasant rural surroundings, originated as long ago as 1898 when Ebenezer Howard had already foreseen that this situation would arise.
Having put his ideals and his principles into successful practice by establishing Letchworth Garden City, he acquired another site between Welwyn and Hatfield in 1921 and commenced the development of Welwyn Garden City.
Consequent upon postwar planning legislation, this was designated as one of the ring of new towns around London. and its further development was undertaken in accordance with the Master Plan prepared in 1949 by the Welwyn Garden City Development Corporation.
Under subsequent leglislation, this Corporation - having duly carried out its work - was replaced by the Commission for the New Towns.
Welwyn Garden City became a civil parish in 1921 and was constituted an urban district six years later. The boundaries were extended in 1951 to coincide with the administrative area of the Welwyn Garden City Development Corporation.
The Urban District is divided into the following six Wards, the approximate current electorate being shown in brackets:
The Council consists of 17 members, five of the wards being each represented by three Councillors and Haldens by two Councillors.
The Council Offices are at The Campus, Welwyn Garden City. Telephone: Welwyn Garden xxxxx all departments.
Rents and rates can be paid at these offices on Mondays to Fridays 9.16 am. to 5 p.m.. or at the following places and times:
The Council meetings, to which there is public admittance, are held at the Council Offices on the last Tuesday in the month at 8 p.m. (except in August).
The Urban District is divided into three divisions; the North Division comprising Sherrards and Haldens Wards, the South Division consisting of Hollybush and Howlands Wards, and the West Division comprising Handside and Peartree Wards. Each division has one elected representative on the Hertfordshire County Council, the offices of which are at County Hall, Hertford. Telephone: xxxx.
The Urban District forms part of the Parliamentary constituency of Hertford. Member: Lord Balniel, M.P.
WHAT THE COUNCIL DOES
The detailed work of the Urban District Council is undertaken by the Standing Committees of Councillors. Each committee, meeting as frequently as necessary (normally monthly), deals with its own particular matters. These are fully discussed and then presented as recommendations to the next full meeting of the Council.
They are then either adopted, and the matters passed to the permanent officers of the appropriate departments to be carried out, or are sometimes referred back for further discussion by the committee involved.
Chairman: M. E. Cain
Vice-Chairman: J. McKnight
Members by Wards:
The Welwyn Garden City Urban District Council received its grant of armorial bearings from the College of Heralds by Letters Patent dated 15th December, 1958.
The green lower part of the shield is symbolic of the Urban District being a garden city, whilst the dividers upon it form the initial letter of Welwyn as well as alluding to the planning of the town. The three ears of wheat are a reminder that this used to be good corn growing land.
The upper part of the shield is coloured gold to represent prosperity, with three bees to signify a community which lives and works together in a garden environment.
Above the shield are the closed helm and mantling proper to all civic armorial bearings.
The crest shows the hart and mural crown from the County of Hertford arms, above which rises a willow tree commemorating the derivation of the place-name of Welwyn.
NEW TOWNS COMMISSION
Although it was originally Government policy that, on the completion of the development of each new town by its Development Corporation, the total assets of the Corporation should be transferred to the Local Authority, this policy was amended by the passing of a new Act in 1959 to retain such ownership in a central body.
In consequence, the Commission for the New Towns took over all the assets of the Welwyn Garden City and Hatfield Development Corporations with effect from the 1st April, 1966. By this date the new towns of Crawley and Hemel Hempstead had also passed into the ownership of the Commission.
Under the terms of its establishment by Parliament, the Commission has a general duty to maintain and enhance the property it holds, and it is empowered, in co-operation with the local authorities concerned, to carry out additional development required for the natural growth of the towns it administers.
The Commission is also required to have regard to the convenience and the welfare of the people in these towns, its aim being to act as enlightened landlords with the residents' well-being at all times in mind.
Whilst the Welwyn Garden City Urban District Council and the Hertfordshire County Council are responsible for all the usual local authority matters, such as roads, health and welfare, rating. town planning and similar administration, the Commission manage the rented houses in the Urban District which were provided by the Development Corporation.
This is done through a Local Committee, the Chairman being a member of the Commission whilst the other members are local people who are appointed by the Commission in consultation with the Urban District Council.
Welwyn Garden City Local Committee:
Officers at Welwyn Garden City:
The Commission also owns Digswell Nurseries, which, under the direction of the Landscape Architect, is responsible for the carrying out and maintenance of the landscaping throughout the town, and has its own Maintenance Department to cope with repairs and maintenance on the properties which it owns.
Since the designation of Welwyn Garden City as a new town the residential development has been very largely carried out by the former Development Corporation, but also by the Urban District Council and, to a small extent, by private enterprise.
At 31st March 1970, the Commission for the New Towns (the successors of the Development Corporation) had 6,539 rented dwellings; the Urban District Council had 3,067 rented properties and there were 3,077 privately owned dwellings in the town.
The Master Plan, under which this development has been carried out, provides for the use of 1,498 acres for residential purposes to accommodate a maximum population of 50,000, being a population density of 33.4 per acre.
As the original Garden City included a large number of privately owned houses in the north-west area and mainly weekly rented houses in the south-east area, Development Corporation policy was to introduce a better balance by its new residential developments, and this has now been largely achieved.
Although the Corporation development up to about 1957 comprised a relatively high proportion of flats and monthly rented houses, it is considered on experience gained during that period that not more than 5% of the total dwellings in the Urban District should be flats, also that the proportion of 4-bedroom houses should be restricted to 10% in view of the nationally decreasing trend now apparent in family sizes.
A proportion of 1 - and 2-bedroom bungalows is included in the development for the north-west and north-east areas as it has been found that there is a definite demand for this type of dwelling, and not only for elderly persons.
Grants and Mortgages
Although the majority of houses in the Urban District are rented rather than owner occupied, the Urban District Council can exercise its powers under the provisions of the Housing Acts to make improvement grants for the modernisation of older or sub-standard dwellings, and also provides mortgage advances for people in the Urban District who are buying their own homes.
SPORT, RECREATION AND ENTERTAINMENT
Public Open Spaces
The Master Plan for the Urban District designates over 1,100 acres for various types of open spaces which comprise the following:
Also, there are 65 acres as large allotment areas, and, in addition, over 500 acres of what is at present agricultural land.
The total area of designated open spaces in the Urban District represents approximately 30 acres per 1,000 persons in a population of 50,000.
Games pitches are provided in the King George V Playing Field at Hatfield Hyde, the Handside Playing Fields (main entrance in Hobbs Way) and in other smaller recreation grounds. Various local tennis clubs have their own courts and bowling clubs have their own greens.
Between the Great North Road and High Oaks Road is the 18-hole course of 5,242 yards and the well appointed clubhouse of the Welwyn Garden City Golf Club. Founded in 1922, this club has a membership of about 400.
A new park is being created by the Council at Stanborough which should be ready for public use in September 1 970. The site includes a sailing lake (15 acres), boating lake (11 acres) and model boating and children's lakes. Car and boat parking facilities are being provided. There are two nature conservancy areas within the park.
Adjoining Stanborough Lane, a short distance beyond the Twentieth Mile Bridge, is the Gosling Stadium which has been laid out and equipped as a centre for all types of sport.
It is leased to the Welwyn Gosling Stadium Athletic and Sports Association, formed to manage and develop it and to use its clubhouse and other facilities. Member clubs of the Association include the following:
Situated about half-a-mile from the Gosling Stadium, the Lea Valley Swimming Pool adjoins the River Lea and is reached by a footpath from Lemsford Lane and a road from Stanborough Road. A large heated pool, learners' pool and sand beach are provided.
A special feature in the original planning of Welwyn Garden City was the provision of play spaces and green areas adjacent to the housing developments where young children could play in safety and within sight and sound of their parents.
This policy has been maintained during the expansion programme carried out by the Development Corporation; but, in practice, it has not been found entirely satisfactory, and such small areas are increasingly expensive to maintain. An equipped children's playground which was provided adjoining the Ludwick Family Club has not proved as successful as was anticipated.
The Welwyn Garden Adventure Playpark Association was formed to establish an adventure playground in the Haldens area, with pedestrian access from Blythway/Rowans junction. It is intended to open it during school holidays and for progressively longer periods.
FROM THE PAST TO THE PRESENT
Although the present Urban District has no historic or recorded past, various interesting and ancient finds have been made in the area it comprises.
In 1964 the grave of a Belgic chieftain was located, containing pottery and a silver cup. The following year an Iron Age settlement site was discovered by aerial photographs. It covered two acres within an earthen rampart and ditch. Since then other prehistoric sites have been traced. These are at Nutfield, Grubs Barn and near Heronswood School.
Although two Roman roads pass the Urban District on the west and on the east, no evidence of the Occupational period was found locally until 1966 when a unique Roman amulet was unearthed at Sherrardswood School. This has been dated as the 4th century A.D. and is the only one of its kind which has ever been found in Britain. It was worn by a woman for protection in childbirth.
As long ago as 1898 Ebenezer Howard had foreseen the rapid growth of London as a result of its unrealistic planning and its increasing congestion of over-population. He strongly advocated the setting up of surrounding new towns where people could live and work in a self-contained community and amidst far more pleasant surroundings, aptly describing such proposed developments as "garden cities".
Having successfully put this concept into practice by the establishment of the Garden City of Letchworth, Ebenezer Howard planned a second development on what he considered to be an eminently suitable site a few miles north of Hatfield.
By 1920, with the financial support of friends of the movement, he had acquired 2,377 acres (about 3¾ square miles) and the Welwyn Garden City Limited was incorporated. The first town plan, ultimately to provide for 50,000 residents, was adopted, and within the same year the first houses to be completed in Handside Lane and Brockswood Lane were occupied.
In 1921 the Garden City was constituted a new civil parish in the Welwyn Rural District. By then it had a restaurant and a stores, and the electric supply had been laid on. The population at that time was 767.
The residents formed their own musical and dramatic societies and sports clubs and started a local newspaper. Soon, schools. halls and churches were being built and the first factory had been established.
In 1927 the population was estimated at 5,000 and the parish was created an urban district; but development was retarded in the 1929 to 1932 period owing to the national economic depression. In the five years prior to the cessation of development because of the 1939-45 war, about 700 houses were completed, also a number of new factories were opened. After the end of the war building was again stepped up.
Not only had Ebenezer Howard been honoured with a knighthood for his garden city concept, but the development of the green belt towns in the United States of America in the later 1930's was also a tribute to him; for President Roosevelt stated that they were based upon the planning principles of the successful Letchworth and Welwyn Garden City projects.
Also, when the Minister of Town and Country Planning introduced his Bill to Parliament for the establishment of satellite towns, he explained that the basis of this new legislation was the garden city development initiated by Sir Ebenezer Howard.
Under the provisions of this Act a Development Corporation was set up to take over the future expansion of Welwyn Garden City, and for this purpose to prepare and submit for Ministerial approval a Master Plan for the designated area.
In 1949 the Development Corporation acquired the real estate and other assets of the Welwyn Garden City Limited for £2,800,000.
The terms of reference for the Development Corporation were to plan and develop to a well balanced lay-out the designated area of 4,317 acres in order to accommodate a population of approximately 36,500, the existing population at that time being 18,500.
Largely because of the continuing population congestion in London, this maximum figure was revised in 1954 to a total population target of 50,000 although without any addition being made to the designated area of development.
The Master Plan of 1949 proposed the completion of the residential area in the south-west, large extensions to those in the north-west and the south-east, and a completely new neighbour hood in the north-east; also the expansion of the industrial zones in the north-east and south-east areas, and the completion of the already existing town centre.
Closely associated with all this new development would be improved road systems to accommodate the vastly increased local traffic flow, as well as the completion of the major north-to-south industrial traffic route. Full provision was also made in the Master Plan for schools, halls, churches, shopping centres, car parks, equipped playing fields and other recreational and amenity developments.
In general it was proposed to continue the policy of building houses in closes and cul-de-sac which gave the planning and architectural staff of the Corporation the opportunity to use a pleasing diversity of designs rather than the somewhat monotonous pattern formed by lengths of road.
Special consideration would be given to ensuring that lay-outs provided easy and safe access from the residential areas to the shops, schools and other area facilities. Each newly completed area would have its own shopping centre for day-to-day requirements as well as churches, community centre, licensed premises, public open spaces and ample car parking.
It was emphasised that all new developments would be planned to preserve as far as possible the original character of the particular area by incorporating such natural features as existing trees, old hedgerows or wayside ponds, and making the best use of the varying contours of the land.
The development areas have been largely defined by the quartering of the whole Urban District by the railways; the main line running from south to north, and the intersection of this by the branch lines across the Urban District to Luton and to Hertford.
Although a few houses were already existing at Digswell Water beside the River Mimram, this constituted an entirely new development area, and the situation on a gradual slope affords pleasant views across the river valley to the countryside beyond.
The Plan provided for approximately 12,000 residents in this area when completed, with the first phase (to accommodate 4,000 people) being sited north-west of the industrial estate and well secluded from it by a 50 ft. deep belt of trees. The final phase here would be the Panshanger area.
This area had already been partly built on under the original Garden City plan. As such development was in the south, adjoining the Garden City town centre, it was proposed that the neighbourhood shops and other community buildings should be centrally located in the new development.
A considerable part of this north-west area is occupied by Sherrardspark Wood, and the Master Plan proposed the preservation of this as a principal local amenity although it would thereby heavily restrict the new development.
On this basis, it was decided that the existing population of this area, which was about 1.200 should be expanded only to 9,000.
As this area, extending southwards from the town centre, was already almost fully developed in the original Garden City, the main provisions here were to tidy up the fringe developments and carry out a limited amount of infilling, thereby increasing the existing population of about 7,000 to approximately 8,300.
Although this part of the Urban District actually adjoins the town centre or is within very easy reach of it, the decision was made to provide a mini-shopping centre at Handside.
The road system here, which linked up with the Great North Road by old highways which were obviously traffic hazards under present day conditions, was planned to be brought up to modern safety standards.
This part of the Urban District included the golf course and the undeveloped area between the Garden City development and the River Lea, near which was a small swimming pool.
The Master Plan proposed a parklike riverside lay-out enlargement and improvement of the swimming pool, and the building of a sports stadium with attached playing fields near the Twentieth Mile Bridge on Stanborough Lane.
This, again, was somewhat developed before the Development Corporation took over, the housing being located around the former hamlet of Hatfield Hyde; but the population density was greater than considered advisable for modern new towns.
So the Master Plan envisaged a reduction of the existing population by about 1,200 through redevelopment, and the expansion by new development to bring it up to an ultimate total population of around 20,000.
As regards shopping facilities, it was proposed to increase the already rather inadequate shops by unit shopping centres at Peartree Lane and Woodhall, and to establish additional local shopping centre at Hall Grove and Hollybush Lane for Hatfield Hyde.
Here, more than in the other areas, it was found necessary to give particular attention to open spaces in order that this extreme southern part of the Urban District should be divided by the maximum green belt possible from the neighbouring new town of Hatfield.
The simplest method of showing what the Development Corporation has accomplished in the implementation of its Master Plan is by tabulated figures as follows:
In addition, up to the beginning of 1967 the Urban District Council had provided 1,553 houses, and 253 had been built by private individuals.
Before the New Town designation there were already 69 factories in the Garden City employing about 8,000 workpeople.
During the period 1961 to 1966 the Development Corporation had also provided new commercial offices with a total floor area of 166,864 square feet for 43 separate occupying firms with a further 22,380 square feet under construction.
It is estimated that in 1966 a total of approximately 36,000 people were employed at the factories, shops and offices in the Urban District.
At the take-over date by the Commission for the New Towns the populations of the areas of the Urban District were estimated to be as follows:
THE PRESENT URBAN DISTRICT
South West Area
The town centre, between the main line railway and the golf course, extends southwards from The Campus through the spacious Parkway which is made most attractive with its wide lawns, trees and flowering shrubs and a fountain, and links up through Stanborough Lane to the Great North Road.
Around The Campus stand the College of Further Education, the Public Library opened in 1960, the Urban District Council Offices and the Fire Station. Opposite the fountain may be seen the neat symbolic memorial to Sir Ebenezer Howard. founder of Welwyn Garden City. Also in Parkway is the Gordon Maynard Gallery.
In Howardsgate, which leads off eastwards to the railway station, are the General Post Office and the very pleasantly laid out shopping precincts of Wigmores. Church Road, which crosses Parkway a short distance further on, is excellently designed as a spacious thoroughfare with a scented poplar tree as a charmingly natural focal point.
Dellcott Close is an attractive example of the limited number of individually owned houses. Here they are set well back and secluded by wide verges with trees and shrubs. The Valley Road housing developments are now beautified by carefully grouped trees and with many of the gardens unhedged along the sidewalks.
Queen Elizabeth II Hospital, opened by Her Majesty the Queen in 1963, is distinctive in having been the first full scale hospital to be completed in England after the end of the war.
Occupying a fine site of 21 acres adjoining the green belt, this is a T-shaped building of eight storeys. providing casualty and out-patients departments, clinics, staff quarters, a chapel and beds for 315 patients. A 100-bed psychiatric unit was opened in 1966.
This considerable asset to Welwyn Garden City was provided by the Development Corporation with the help of voluntary contributions - mainly in the form of a memorial fund to Mr. R. G. Gosling who was the first Chairman of the Development Corporation - also by contributions from the County Council and the Urban District Council.
The centre bowl has an Olympic six-lane track and a banked cycle track. There is grandstand seating for 1,000 spectators and many more seats. Changing accommodation is provided for up to 200. The clubroom facilities include a licensed bar and a very pleasant lounge bar extension opened in 1966.
Adjoining the stadium are five playing fields for association and rugby football and hockey, with three more playing pitches under construction.
During 1967 four squash courts are to be constructed, also a 100-ft. artificial ski slope which it is hoped to double in length in the near future.
Plans are in hand for later provision of tennis courts, netball courts and other games facilities.
The swimming pool is owned by the Urban District Council which completed the improvements to the original pool in 1966 at a total cost of some £80,000.
The main pool is of championship size with 3-metre and 5-metre diving boards. There is also a learners' pool. Both pools are heated.
Changing accommodation includes lockers, footbaths and showers, and adequate seating has been provided for spectators. The resident superintendent's flat overlooks the pool. A large car park has now been completed.
Also in this area, through which a small stream flows, there is a paddling pool for children and a good sandy beach. An attractive refreshment kiosk has been installed at this popular spot.
As in the south west, this area was already partly developed when the Development Corporation commenced its work. Therefore mainly a planned expansion has been undertaken with the provision of further facilities and services where required.
There are neighbourhood centres at Woodhall, Peartree, Hatfield Hyde (which was the original village) and Hall Grove, and the principal industrial zone for the Urban District lies in the west of this area alongside the railway.
Wherever possible natural features have been retained. Sweet Briar being an excellent example of this with the hedgerows of the old lane preserved and the footpaths winding behind.
The original standing trees have also been retained in Autumn Grove, being seen to advantage across the wide expanses of well mown grass. Another attractive feature which has been incorporated in the lay-out is the tree-fringed pond off Hall Grove.
This includes the attractive little place called Digswell Water, on the River Mimram, where there were already a few houses; but this part of the Urban District has otherwise been designed and laid out as a completely new neighbourhood by the Development Corporation.
It includes the considerable and, as yet, undeveloped area of the Panshanger airfield to the east of Hern's Lane, also the north ward extension of the main industrial zone between Bessemer Road and the main line railway.
The route of this through road was altered from the original plan so that it now passes on the west side of the new residential neighbourhood instead of through it. Cycle tracks and pedestrian ways have been provided for the use of people who are employed in the industrial zone.
The main features here are Sherrardspark Wood and Digswell Park. The area was well developed in the south when the Development Corporation prepared its Master Plan, whilst the small village of Digswell lay in the north close to the river, with the vast viaduct of forty arches extending beyond the Urban District boundary to carry the railway over the valley.
Digswell House, a stone-built mansion of the Regency period, was opened in 1959 by the Countess Mountbatten of Burma as the centre for the Digswell Arts Trust.
Close by stands the little church of St. John the Evangelist, dating from the 13th century although retaining some late Norman work in the nave and chancel walls, and with a small tower, added in Tudor days, which contains two bells cast three hundred years ago.
This church possesses some good 16th century woodwork in its screens and chancel and nave roofs. The Communion plate includes an engraved Elizabethan chalice and 17th century flagon and paten.
In the chancel may be seen some fine old brasses. They show John Peryent (1415), Standard Bearer to Richard II, with his wife; an armoured knight of the same family (circa 1430); William Roberts and his wife in shrouds (1484); Thomas Hoose (1495), a mercer, with his wife and children; and Robert Battyl (1557) with his wife and family of ten children.
Extending southwards from Digswell Place to Brockswood Lane and the golf course, and eastwards from the Urban District boundary along the Great North Road, Sherrardspark Wood comprises nearly 180 acres of natural woodland which is being preserved for the enjoyment of the residents of the Urban District.
This wood is distinctive for two interesting reasons. First, that it has a historic record, being mentioned in the Norman Domesday Survey of 1086 and again in documents dated 1285; and secondly, because it is principally composed of a mixture of durmast oak and hornbeam, an almost unique association in English woodlands.
In addition, there are ash, sycamore, elm, silver birch. Spanish chestnut, maple, holly, rowan and a few good beech and wild cherry, also plantations of larch and Scots and Corsican pine, and two large areas of rhododendrons.
The part known as Brocks Wood. which is separated from the main woodland by the Luton branch line and therefore not so much visited, is becoming a natural sanctuary for wild life; although the whole of Sherrardspark Wood is of interest to naturalists because of its plants, birds and animals.
It is hoped that residents will make full use of this valuable local amenity which many of them have probably not yet visited, and which some may not even know about.
At the same time, in order to preserve these woodlands for the enjoyment of future generations, a set of rules was drawn up by the Development Corporation.
Briefly, these prohibit motor vehicles in the woods, also guns or other firearms. No camping or lighting of fires is allowed except by previous permission of the authorities, nor must any litter be deposited.
It is an offence to damage or uproot trees and plants or take away leafmould. It is also strictly prohibited to kill birds and game. Anyone exercising their animals in these woods must keep them under control. There are voluntary wood wardens on duty to ensure that these reasonable rules are observed.
L. ELGAR PIKE
The whole concept of the new towns was for an adequate balance of residential and industrial development so that sufficient local employment in a wide range of trades, crafts and professions was available for the total working population; and experience gained since the establishment of the new towns has proved this to have been a sound basis of planning.
But Welwyn Garden City was somewhat different from other new towns; for, with Letchworth, it had been the prototype for such towns conceived many years ago by Ebenezer Howard, and industries were established here as long ago as the early 1920's. Even so, these factories and works were not all suitably sited to conform to contemporary standards of planning. For, in any case, no such vast expansion of the original Welwyn Garden City had been envisaged at the time it was established.
Therefore the Master Plan of the Development Corporation defined a suitable site to become the principal industrial zone for the new town into which the Garden City was planned to develop.
This site is between Broadwater Road and the main line railway. It is excellently situated for access and has an adequate supply of all necessary services. A planted belt of trees completely separates and screens it from the nearest residential areas.
As the new town neighbourhoods developed a further industrial zone became necessary in order to maintain the required industrial potential for the expanding working population. This zone extends southwards from the Twentieth Mile Bridge between Chequers and the railway with a designated extension both north west and north-east to include Bridge Road East, Brownfields and Swallowfield.
A total area of about 346 acres
of industrial land has been provided with another 38 acres held in reserve.
This should prove adequate for a number of years to come.
Most of the larger factories have been located close to the railway on the first industrial zone, whilst the general policy throughout has been to allocate the larger sites to the more important companies on which to erect their own factories or works, and to provide for smaller firms by building sectional type factories available for renting.
The heavy flow of traffic which has developed in and around the industrial area is being relieved by a new road scheme and new pedestrian subways at an estimated cost of over £400,000.
The following selection from the many industries now well established at Welwyn Garden City demonstrates the very wide range of employment available for the local working population.
Situated in Bessemer Road, the Broadcast Division of Rank Precision Industries Limited is engaged, primarily, in manufacturing television studio equipment which is of a very high standard and exported to television companies as far afield as Australia.
With the large expansion of colour television in this country and abroad, production has been doubled of the transistorised flying spot colour for both film and slide scanners to give colour or monochrome video signals from 16 mm or 35 mm film. Encoders, decoders, tarrif processing units, monitors and adjustable phase corrector units are also being produced in increased quantities.
They also produce military and civil communications transceivers which are used by armed forces and police throughout the world. Another section of the Broadcast Division, Industrial Controls, includes systems for automated continuous weighing, batching and proportioning of liquids or solids with computer control and data read-outs.
Established in 1939, Devices Limited, of Broadwater Road, are development engineers who have steadily gained international prominence in the application of photo-electronics to the food industry. Since a move was made in 1959 to new premises, production has included a wide range of transistorised single and multi-channel recording instruments for medical and industrial research.
This company employs an active design team and undertakes its own tooling, manufacture and marketing, largely for export. The apprentice scheme in operation gives an excellent opportunity for training in high quality mechanical and electronic engineering. An associated undertaking. Devices Implants Ltd., of Brownfields, is developing and producing cardiac pacemakers and similar electronic aids for human life.
One of the leading manufacturers of arc welding equipment. electrodes and arc welding accessories in the United Kingdom is the Lincoln Electric Co. Ltd., which developed rapidly after its original establishment in Broadwater Road in 1935 and took over additional premises. In 1955 it became part of the well known Guest, Keen & Nettlefold group, moving in 1958 to a larger factory in the north-east industrial area of the Urban District.
From this factory, which is itself largely of welded construction, the company manufactures and supplies welded equipment to every type of engineering industry throughout Great Britain, and to many overseas countries. The recently completed national methane gas grid pipeline system was welded almost exclusively with Lincoln equipment and electrodes.
Neosid Limited, of Stonehills House, are manufacturers of magnetic materials, Permanent Magnets and Technical Thermo-plastic and Thermosetting Mouldings.
Polypenco Limited, of Gate House, produce engineering plastics which include Nylon 66 (the hardest natural grade of nylon), Nylatron (Molybdenum Disulphide filled nylons). Cast Nylon, PTFE, Fluorosint and Delrin.
All these materials are available in rods, tubes, sheets, etc. Mono Cast Nylon is also supplied as custom castings from 1 lb. to 100 lbs. in weight; Nylasint and Fluorosint in precision pressed and sintered parts; and accurately machined components from all engineering plastics are available to customers' requirements.
Founded in 1952 and continuing ever since with a steady expansion, the Welwyn Tool Co. Ltd., of Stonehills House, is one of the main suppliers of a large range of specialised tools and machinery to the electric and electronic industries, the general engineering and packaging industries, including plastic fabricators. The production is carried out partly on the Continent, partly in the United States, and also in the United Kingdom.
Davenport (London) Limited, of Tewin Road. are mechanical and electrical engineers and instrument makers. They produce laboratory testing equipment for the plastics, rubber and synthetic industries, their instruments being used by manufacturers and processors in all parts of the world.
Financed by the Malayan Rubber Fund Board, Kuala Lumpur, West Malaysia, The Natural Rubber Producers' Research Association was founded in 1938 and has its laboratories in Tewin Road. The laboratory staff consists of some seventy qualified scientists and technologists with almost double that number of assistants and other staff.
The Association is concerned with research into the consumption of natural rubber. It studies the behaviour and properties of this major industrial raw material in order to develop new ways of exploiting the usefulness of natural rubber.
Since its establishment in 1938 the Association has acquired an international reputation for its contributions to the science and technology of rubber and it is continuously concerned to spread this knowledge throughout the rubber producing and consuming industries.
The Association operates a Technical Advisory Service for rubber manufacturers and for users of rubber such as the motor industry and civil and mechanical engineers. It publishes a wide range of technical publications together with an international quarterly magazine "Rubber Developments" which is re-issued in German and (in summary form) in Russian, Italian and Spanish. Copies of its publications are obtainable, free of charge, from the Librarian, NRPRA, 56 Tewin Road. [ N.B. This was written in 1970.]
Starting as a private company in 1932 when it opened its original factory at Welwyn Garden City, British Lead Mills rapidly expanded. It was incorporated as a public liability company in 1937 and in 1952 became a subsidiary of Firth Cleveland Ltd.
The present factory is about five times the size of the original building and its facilities include some of the largest and most up-to-date plant in the country for rolling, extruding, casting and machining lead, and for refining scrap lead, recovering the metal from lead ash, and manufacturing all types of lead alloys and solders.
The advantages of B.L.M.'s specialisation can be seen at every step from the raw material to the finished product. This firm has designed and developed most of its own plant and equipment, including the time-and-labour-saving automatic unloading gear fitted to its fleet of delivery lorries. When lead or lead products are ordered from this company, the customers gain the benefit of the specialisation. which is equally at their service if they need advice or information on anything to do with lead.
Tolwood Engineering Limited, of Tewin Road, have the largest toolroom in the Urban District and these facilities are available to industry all over the country. More than 10,000 square feet are occupied mainly in the production of press tools, jigs, fixtures, gauges and special purpose machinery, being backed by the company's own tool design and planning organisation. New equipment is being constantly introduced and an apprentice training scheme is operated.
Tooling programmes are carried out either to customers' own drawings or are completely designed and manufactured, including in some cases final production of the finished component. Customers range throughout the domestic appliance field, the aircraft and motor vehicle industries and others, which enable the company to develop a considerable versatility so that it is able to invite inquiries from production industries at home and abroad.
The hydraulic loading shovels produced by F. E. Weatherill Ltd., of Tewin Road, are known all over the world, for this company pioneered their design and manufacture in Britain and has exported them to 79 countries.
Weatherill are currently producing 13 different four-wheel-drive and two-wheel-drive models ranging from a small single-boom industrial loader designed for working in confined spaces such as a factory or a ship's hold, to a very powerful machine which can lift up to 26,000 lbs. These are fully mobile, highly manoeuvrable, rugged and economical materials handling machines which are being used in quarries for stockpiling and loading sand, gravel and granite; at collieries and depots for loading solid fuel on controlled municipal refuse tips; and for loading chemicals and other materials. They are capable of handling many hundreds of tons of material in a working day, and have powerful engines, hydraulic steering and servo-assisted hydraulic disc brakes.
The products of Avdel Limited, are made and used all over the world. In addition to the Blackfan Road factory of approximately 250,000 square feet, these are sold throughout the Continent, in the United States, Canada, Australia, India, Japan and elsewhere.
The Avdel range of fastening systems includes bolts, rivets, clamps and pins for a wide range of industrial uses to make rapid and secure fastenings between a diversity of materials, with particular application to metal fabrication electronics, plastics and the aircraft industry.
The research and development division of Riker Laboratories is in Tewin Road, the company having taken over these premises in 1958 when it acquired the firm of Carnegies Limited; but its main factory and administrative headquarters are at Loughborough.
The research laboratories are actively engaged in the search for new compounds for the treatment of disease. These are subsequently investigated in the pharmacology, microbiology and toxicology departments to determine whether or not they are suitable for use in human beings. To complete the research activities at Welwyn Garden City there is also a cancer research department.
In 1936 Catomance Limited was in possession of a single factory bay at Bridge Road East, with the object of developing a new chemical process for the waterproofing of textiles. It is now recognised on a world wide basis as a leading company in the manufacture of chemicals for both waterproofing and preservation of textiles, paper, timber and many other materials, and has developed a range of over one hundred specialised compounds sold in world markets. The company has expanded into buildings in Bridge Road East and Broadwater Road, and maintains extensive laboratories working in the textile, biological, timber and paper fields.
Unistrut Division of GKN Sankey Ltd., which moved to Welwyn Garden City in 1957, is a member of the Guest, Keen & Nettlefold group of companies.
All design and marketing activities are directed from 43-45 Broadwater Road. Unistrut is an all purpose metal framing system offering a quicker and easier way of building all types of frames and supports for electrical and mechanical equipment. storage racks, space dividers and fire breaks, plus a great diversity of other uses.
Sika Limited has expanded very considerably since it was founded half a century ago and there are now 20 manufacturing companies throughout the world as well as research laboratories. The name Sika is generally associated with waterproofing, and in this field it has established a reputation second to none.
The factory in Broadwater Road manufactures some 85 products, many of which are highly specialised whilst others are in everyday use in the building and civil engineering industries. They comprise concrete additives, winter building products, mortar additives and bonding compounds, surface treatment materials, epoxy resin compounds and specialised chemical additives for use in sprayed concrete and guniting processes. This range is soon to be extended to cope with the ever increasing demand for resin products and synthetic plastic materials in the building industry.
The Baird & Tatlock (London) Ltd. branch at Bridge Road East was formerly Welwyn Metal Products Limited which was founded in 1936 for the manufacture of agricultural accessories in sheet metal. This form of activity was abandoned after very few years and the manufacture of steel office furniture and storage equipment became the company's main concern.
During the war the company was engaged almost 100% on Government contracts and on the resumption of peacetime activities entered the export field. Records in the new premises of Scotland Yard are housed in racking supplied by the company.
The firm became a member of the Derbyshire Stone Group in 1965 who in 1968 amalgamated with Tarmac to form what is now known as Tarmac Derby Ltd.
Douglas Kane Group, of Swallowfields, is an organisation of a group of four companies which came to Welwyn Garden City in 1964. The most advanced marketing techniques in the country are used for the products handled which include Loctite industrial assembly resins and adhesives, Obo masonry nails and other masonry fixings, Dependatherm electronic thermometers, Cogsdill finishing tools and a wide range of engineers' hand tools. The group currently employs approximately 100 people.
At their factory in Brownfields, Wellson Manufacturing Co. specialise in resinoid and metal bonded diamond impregnated wheels and hones, also electro-deposited diamond coated tools for use in the engineering, wood-working, glass, ceramic and plastics industries. They are justly proud of their service to customers coupled with the high quality of the products.
Under the same directorship since 1934. the Skarsten Manufacturing Co. Ltd., then occupied part of 21 Hydeway; but owing to the continual increase in demand for its products this firm now completely occupies No. 21, which is four-times the original area, and they now occupy No. 23. another building the same size as No. 21.
From a few scraper models as a beginning, a wide range of these is now manufactured to cope with all types of redecorating, including the latest addition which is a wallpaper scraper. This quickly removes all kinds of paper including washable and varnished.
In addition to the now world renowned scrapers, this firm produces wallpaper equipment that facilitates the pasting of paper, ceiling wallpapering and the trimming of wallpapers. Currently 60% of the total output is exported to all parts of the world. particularly to Scandinavia and Australia.
Starting up in 1958 and moving to newly built warehouse and offices five years later, Ellistons (Welwyn) Ltd., of Brownfields, stock and distribute a wide range of industrial and domestic electrical equipment for contractors, industrial users and retailers, daily deliveries being made over a wide surrounding area.
In addition to the considerable stocks held of electric motors, switchgear, domestic appliances, cable, conduit and accessories, this firm also distributes power tools, screws, dexion, hand tools, distilled water and other items for industrial users.
Although the factory and showrooms of Somnus Limited, in Bridge Road East, opened only in 1957, this family business was founded in Yorkshire in 1840, being therefore one of the oldest manufacturers of bedding in Great Britain.
This firm pioneered the design and manufacture of spring interior mattresses early in the present century, and the first one under the brand name of "Somnus" was marketed in 1910. The reason for coming to Welwyn Garden City was to be able to give a prompt delivery service to London and South Eastern England, and this has succeeded so well that the factory floor area has since been considerably increased.
Southalls (Sales) Limited, of Bessemer Road, are well known as manufacturers of toiletries, cosmetics, etc.
Leemar Food Products Limited moved to Welwyn Garden City in 1954 occupying a small factory in Bridge Road East canning milk products. Opened a second factory in Brownfields canning meat lines. When the factory in Hydeway was vacated in 1959 they moved both factories under one roof. The company specialises in a very wide range of canned foods for the home and overseas markets and five years ago was taken over by Burton Son and Sanders Ltd. of Ipswich.
Welwyn Bakeries Limited was formed in 1950 on the site of an older bakery establishment in Bridge Road East. With up-to-date plant and techniques, this firm produces "Sunblest" bread and rolls in great variety. A fleet of vans of modern and special type construction covers delivery over a 30-mile radius.
Graphic Litho Limited which was founded by David Warren has developed with considerable success, since its formation, a lively policy of producing publicity literature and superior stationery by combining a modern and original approach to graphic and creative design with a high standard of lithographic press work. This has been acknowledged at various National exhibitions, including the London Design Centre where work has been selected for display. By having its own studio, camera processing and platemaking departments it enables the company to offer an unrivalled and expert service for both the simple and complex work. There is also a Xerox camera installation for the cheap production of technical manuals and small-run circulars, and a complete artwork and platemaking service for industrial companies with their own internal printing service. The company has already expanded into larger premises with the installation of the latest electronic high speed printing presses and programmatic guillotines where a wide range of single and multi-colour publications are produced including many in foreign languages.
Dickinson & Adams (Welwyn) Ltd. have been established in the City Centre for several years as B.L.M.C. Retail Dealers for Austin, Morris and Wolseley motor vehicles. Its associated branches in Harpenden, Luton and Leighton Buzzard are all members of the nationwide Oliver Rix Group of Companies which embraces many facets of commerce including motor vehicle distribution, motor factoring, haulage, agricultural tractors and equipment, also insurance. The full resources of this large group of Companies backs up the local depot which has enjoyed, and strives to continue, a close and personal service to the community.
Gordon Ward are Plastics Consultant Engineers whose headquarters are in Southfield and from whom KuAsy Injection Moulding Machines, Gunzel Granulators, and Plastics Ancillary Equipment are available on very good delivery.
KuAsy Injection Moulding Machines are manufactured in East Germany and are being sold throughout the United Kingdom and former Commonwealth countries at very competitive prices.
At the showrooms in Southfields moulding machines and granulators are demonstrated and the Service Organisation is also based there. We welcome any plastics enquiries and will be pleased to arrange for commercial and technical discussions. [ N.B. This was written in 1970.]
British Lead Mills Limited, one of the original factories built when Welwyn Garden City was being born, is now five times the size it was when first established in Peartree Lane in 1932.
After some early expansion it was incorporated as a Public Liability Company in 1937 and in 1952 became a subsidiary of the Lead Division of the Firth Cleveland Industrial Group.
British Lead Mills supply lead for a wide variety of different uses, and the most common forms range from rolled sheet for cladding buildings, or lining chemical tanks, to tubing and piping of various diameters for use by the G.P.O., Gas Boards and many other major industrial concerns.
British Lead Mills specialise in rolling, extruding casting and machining lead, as well as manufacturing all types of lead alloys and lead. They have recently extended their range to include a new form of acoustic lead sheet called Con/Form for sound- proofing such places as BBC Studios; Machine Test Rooms and other places where sound insulation is important.
The Company prides itself on the service it gives to its customers both in quick deliveries and technical advice - and lives up to its slogan 'Lead is our Job'.
Welex Electrical Limited of 4 Southfield was founded in Welwyn Garden City over ten years ago and is now the largest Electrical Contracting firm in the town. Undertaking all types of Domestic and Industrial Electrical Installation work and Industrial maintenance and repairs in Welwyn Garden City and surrounding areas within a radius of 40 miles. Contractors for the Hertfordshire County Council. Welwyn Garden City Urban District Council, the Mid-Herts and West Herts Hospital Groups and many other local authorities. Welex are firm believers in and members of the National Inspection Council for Electrical Installation Contracting (N.I.C.E.I.C.) who set a very high standard of installation work which its members must maintain.
In addition to the above Industrial write-ups, there are other Industrial concerns operative in the area, such as l.C.l. (Plastics Division), Nabisco, Smith, Kline & French, Roche Products and Norton Abrasives.