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Before the founding of the Garden City each of the three original villages – Letchworth, Norton & Willian – were within Hitchin Rural District. An unofficial "Residents' Union" or "Residents' Council" for the town was established in June 1905, meeting monthly until March or April 1908 when Letchworth (Civil) Parish Council was formed, within Hitchin RDC.
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Along with all other UDCs in England, the Letchworth UDC was abolished on 1 April 1974 by the Local Government Act 1972. Most of its responsibilities passed to the newly created North Hertfordshire District Council, though some became the responsibility of the county.
The charitable owner of the 5,500 acre Garden City estate
In September 2008, following the death of a sitting Town Councillor, the nomination of a member of the group seeking the dissolution of the Town Council ("HELP") was not opposed. Later in the year, when four Town Councillors resigned, HELP candidates were again nominated for the vacancies: opposing candidates were nominated and by-elections were held in the four wards concerned on 8 January 2009. All four "HELP" candidates were returned with significant majorities.
In 2011 the first George Orwell Festival was held in Letchworth and Wallington, the nearby village where George Orwell lived from 1936 until 1940 and then intermittently until 1947. It was where he wrote some of his most famous books, essays, reviews, diaries and letters, and where he developed many of the ideas leading to his greatest two novels, Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four. There was a further festival in 2012.
One commonly-cited example of this is the ban, most unusual for a British town, on selling alcohol in public premises. This did not stop the town having a "pub" however – the Skittles Inn or the "pub with no beer" which opened as early as 1907.
However, the oldest club based at Whitethorn Lane is Whitethorn Bowls Club – but it is only one of several bowls clubs based in the town.
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Visit the International Garden Cities Exhibition website, visit 296 Norton Way South on Friday and Saturday 10:00 and 17:00.
Letchworth is also home to a thriving Sunday league football culture, which makes use of Letchworth's many green areas and recreational playing fields.
Letchworth is thus in theory owned collectively by its residents, as opposed to landlords – although in fact, ownership resides in a trust. By holding most of the commercial buildings in the trust, the trust is able to raise income by leasing them out to shopkeepers. It has assets of over £127m. No dividend payments are made to the residents, but instead, the profit of £7m a year is invested into the local economy.
It moved to a new and larger building at the Letchworth Corner Sports Club, Whitethorn Lane, Letchworth in October 2001. The club name was changed to the Hitchin and Letchworth Weightlifting Club to reflect its history, location and membership. Over the years well over fifty lifters have competed for the club in Powerlifting, All round lifting, single arm lifting, and in the 1970s bodybuilding competitions. The club has produced many county, divisional, national, and international champions.
The first club to represent the town – Garden City FC began playing in 1906. It lasted barely a season under this name before reconstituting itself (for reasons unknown) as Letchworth Athletic, under which name it gradually worked it way through county and regional amateur leagues before becoming Athenian League champions in 1975.
This is an unfortunate oversight as the plan of the estate (based on the "Radburn principle" pioneered in Radburn, New Jersey – a town whose design was itself inspired by the original Garden City) was an impressive and largely successful addition to the town, and matched most Garden City principles. Certainly for a period that has a reputation for poor town and residential planning it is remarkably well executed piece of urban design.
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However, by 2008 a reformed Baldock Town had moved through the local leagues to reach the Premier Division of the Herts Senior County League. A search for a ground appropriate to their new status lead them to the County Ground in Letchworth, where they moved in August 2008 at the same time adopting the new name Baldock Town Letchworth F.C. (BTLFC).
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May I wish you a warm welcome to the Letchworth Golf Club website.
Letchworth, officially Letchworth Garden City, is a town in Hertfordshire, England, with a population of 33,600. It is a former civil parish, abolished on 31 March 2013.
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The new Foundation retains most of the former Corporation's functions and responsibilities. Its published mission statement says that the Foundation exists "to create, maintain and promote a vibrant, quality environment in Letchworth Garden City, for all those who live, work and visit the world's first Garden City." It also aims to "maximise the financial returns from the assets we hold in trust and to re-invest those returns:
The Garden City estate began to turn a profit in the 1970s, leading to investment in a number of town amenities: a working farm, Standalone Farm, in 1980, a leisure centre and a theatre named Plinston Hall in 1982, a free hospital (the Ernest Gardiner Day Hospital) in 1984, and major refurbishment of the town's cinema and shopping centre in 1996 and 1997. A further major programme to improve and update facilities in the town centre – entirely funded by the Foundation – began in 2009.
To the north of the town The Grange began construction in 1947 and to the south east Jackmans was built from 1961. These were council / municipal housing estates with many residents originally coming from the London overspill. Two more prosperous (and private) estates – Lordship and Manor Park – were built from in 1971 to the south west.
Many of the original ground leases were written to last for nine hundred and ninety-nine years, but some ran for only ninety-nine; around 2001 many of these shorter leases began to expire, whereupon the Foundation sold the freehold of the land to the house-owners.
To remedy this, the then Member of Parliament, Martin Madden sponsored a bill in Parliament, and Parliament passed the Letchworth Garden City Act 1962, which created a public body, the Letchworth Garden City Corporation, to take on the business of First Garden City Ltd; as a statutory corporation it could not be bought. The Corporation's officers were appointed by the Crown and could level a supplementary rate, which for some years it did partly in order to pay Hotel York compensation.
Selling its old home for housing allowed the club to develop Muddy Lane into what is one of region's largest and most state-of-the-art tennis venues, which has in turn led to an explosion in membership as well as a number of awards from district and county sporting organisations.
Letchworth Rugby Club has also been an important part of the town's sporting life for over half a century, and is one of the oldest (and highest ranked) rugby clubs in the county, being formed in 1926.
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North Herts Road Runners are also based at Whitethorn Lane where it meets on Tuesday, Thursdays & most Sundays. Athletes are of all abilities, from occasional jogger to county class runners. The club competes in a winter cross-league which it has won on many occasions and a summer road race league.
Smaller areas of in-fill housing also appeared in the 1990s, particularly on land adjacent to Jackmans Estate on the sites of a former creamery and the Willian Secondary School, which had closed in 1991 when school rolls in the town had begun to fall.
Standalone Farm is a delightful traditional working farm set in 170 acres of farmland on the outskirts of Letchworth, the world’s first Garden City.
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The oldest of these is Norton Bowls Club, established in 1908. Their first recorded match was a 70-50 point win over Walsworth BC on Saturday 22 August 1908, (although they lost the return match four days later by 86-40). Norton was involved in the formation of the North Herts Bowls League (1909), Hertfordshire Bowls Association (1920), and the Letchworth & District Bowls Association (1944).
To ensure the continued prosperity of the Broadway, the sixty shareholders of The Letchworth Palace Ltd had come together with the Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation in a £2m programme to revitalise the cinema from a single to a triple screen facility to combine the latest in sound, seating and projection with the original exterior and luxurious art deco interior features.
Full details about the society and its activities can be found at its official website.
Two other pools in the town – at the two independent schools – are also widely used by the community, including the Letchworth Adult Swimming Club, though this is also predominantly a teaching club.
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Click here to discover the shops, services, cafes and restaurants that make Letchworth Garden City’s town centre such a great place to visit