History of Your House in Welwyn Garden City

As you probably know already, Welwyn Garden City is special. It was one of two garden cities developed by Sir Ebenezer Howard to integrate urban and country living in Hertfordshire. It is also the only garden city to be developed into a new town following the second World War.

This is partly why so many people have taken an interest in Welwyn Garden City over the years, they have written books about it and taken many historic photographs that can be found in archives. If you want to get an idea of your home or land in the past browse these photographs.

The garden city has a long and colourful history and people have made it their home throughout the generations leaving behind many documents and photos in the Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies (HALS) at County Hall in Hertford. These can be accessed any time to get a bigger picture of where you live.

High Oaks Road

At the archives in County Hall Hertford you can find a wealth of information about your home and the area you live. As part of a presentation, Susan Hall gathered together some archive material of particular interest. This material gives a lively overview of High Oaks Road.

According to a sales brochure found in the archives the properties on High Oak Road are unique. They are located in Welwyn Garden City which is a new county located off the ancient highway connecting Great North Road and London. It is 21 miles from King’s Cross.

The town is located in a perfect town and unspoilt part of the countryside within the radius of London. It is both modern and traditional with perfect air for children to breathe and magnificent views of the town in all directions.

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Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council offices in May 2017

Sailing Base, Stanborough Lakes, Welwyn Garden City This is the view from the cafe on a fine winter's day

Advertising and Newspapers

Since Welwyn Garden City was the brainchild of Sir Ebenezer Howard it had an intention for the start. The vision was to create a home for people that combined the best of urban dwelling with the freedom and nature of the countryside. A new concept like this requires some promotion and newspapers were the medium of the day.

Many companies located in the area, as well as property developers used newspaper advertising as a way to promote the clear advantages of living in a new concept town. As well as newspaper adverts there were pamphlets published and distributed widely. These are all available at the archives.

You can access these adverts and pamphlets at the HALS archive and in the library at Welwyn Garden City. If you want to gain insights into the original selling points of your home or the local area this is a good place to look. You will also see how companies and developers wanted people to view the area.

Barleycroft Road

Although Welwyn Garden City was extensively planned, there were many areas that were not built originally or have been adapted over time. Barleycroft Road is just one example. If you want more information on how it once looked or why it was repurchased you can find plenty of information in the archives.

Originally Barleycroft Road was planned in 1924 by Louis de Soissons. It was indeed to be used as a street with houses on it. On the original plans, however, there are the letters NB on some areas. This stands for Not Built and refers to areas of the road that were never developed.

Numbers 6 and 8 were marked NB and a cul-de-sac was put there instead. Number 3 was also NB and is where the Baptist Church was situated. You can clearly see that in OS maps from 1938 there is a cul-de-sac in Barleycroft Road, but in OS maps from 1967 there is a Baptist Church.

Maps, Plans, and Surveys

If you want to understand the area you live in the start from above. OS maps date back to 1745 when the British government wanted to map Scotland in the wake of the Jacobite uprising. Since then OS mapping technology has become somewhat more sophisticated, and the maps of Welwyn Garden City from the turn of last century are fairly detailed.

The oldest map you will find of the area, however, dates back to 1599 and shows the parish of Digswell. This map is beautifully drawn but anonymous. Unlike modern maps it is also upside down with North being at the bottom. To the right you can see woodland which is now Sherrards Park Wood and to the left is the small village of Digswell.

Viewing the area in this way, from a time in the distant past, gives you a sense.of perspective and change. Although much of the ancient woodland has been developed since the 16th century it is still nice to live in a hybrid garden city dwelling.

Need an architect in Welwyn Garden City?

First image: Welwyn Garden City memorial garden viewed from the north in May 2017.
Second image: Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council offices in May 2017.
Both courtesy Cmglee

Third image: Sailing Base, Stanborough Lakes, Welwyn Garden City This is the view from the cafe on a fine winter’s day. Courtesy John Partridge

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