Welwyn Garden City celebrates 100 years with festival of light

PUBLISHED: 06:58 01 January 2020 | UPDATED: 11:21 20 January 2020

Welwyn Garden City Centenary Foundation launch in the Howard centre in May. Picture: DANNY LOO

Welwyn Garden City Centenary Foundation launch in the Howard centre in May. Picture: DANNY LOO

©2019 Archant

Welwyn Garden City will be a 100 years old and 2020 will be our year to mark this special occasion.

The new Henry Moore statue in WGC. Picture: Malcolm DayThe new Henry Moore statue in WGC. Picture: Malcolm Day

During the past year, residents throughout the town have been working hard to get ready for the commemoration.

To this end, schoolchildren have been sowing nearly 50,000 flowers and planting more than 100 trees, a community piano has been gifted to Campus West, attractive new road signs are now welcoming residents and visitors and a Henry Moore statue was placed next to the Coronation Fountain in Parkway.

Leader of Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council Cllr Tony Kingsbury, said: "Welwyn Garden City is renowned worldwide and occasions like this provide us with a unique opportunity to celebrate our special heritage.

"But as we take pride in looking back, it's also about planning ahead for the town's future and thinking about where we want to be for the next 100 years.

L-R:  Mrs Carole Trigg, Malcolm Day, Dr Dennis Lewis, Herts county councillor Lynn Chesterman, county councillor Nigel Quinton, county councillor Richard Smith, Welwyn Hatfield Mayor Roger Trigg, Welwyn Hatfield borough councillor Malcolm Cowan, Alan Willison and Gary Primrose. Picture: WGC Centenary.L-R: Mrs Carole Trigg, Malcolm Day, Dr Dennis Lewis, Herts county councillor Lynn Chesterman, county councillor Nigel Quinton, county councillor Richard Smith, Welwyn Hatfield Mayor Roger Trigg, Welwyn Hatfield borough councillor Malcolm Cowan, Alan Willison and Gary Primrose. Picture: WGC Centenary.

"I'm absolutely amazed by the vast array of different events and activities taking place and I wish to thank the many committed volunteers at the Centenary Foundation for the incredible amount of hard work that has gone into planning such a fantastic year of celebration.

"We're really proud to be supporting these efforts and look forward to continuing our support as the plans come to fruition!"

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Welwyn Garden City Centenary Foundation has spearheaded this work to honour Ebenezer Howard for in building a town that integrates social justice and the importance of sustainable living in a 'marriage of town and country'.

Welwyn Garden City Centenary Foundation kick off in the Howard centre. Picture: DANNY LOOWelwyn Garden City Centenary Foundation kick off in the Howard centre. Picture: DANNY LOO

After building Letchworth Garden City in 1903, Ebenezer Howard was so determined to prove the concept of the garden city within the UK that with just £50 to his name, and his excellent powers of persuasion, he bought the land at auction.

This was a huge risk, and meant taking on a debt of £51,000 (approx. £2m today).

He and his board achieved what no one believed possible. Young architect Louis de Soissons perfectly interpreted Howard's vision in the WGC Master Plan, including parks in the centre and more intimate residential areas, with roads following land contours and incorporating the many trees.

In a town filled with green spaces there are also attractive shops, social spaces and industry, all financed through bank loans. Failing to attract a big name store to the town, the founders built Welwyn Stores - now John Lewis. Needing a social space, they opened Cherry Tree Restaurant 'the finest restaurant in Hertfordshire', now Waitrose.

Pupils from primary schools learnt about the centenary celebrations and planted lots of bulbs. Picture: Groundwork EastPupils from primary schools learnt about the centenary celebrations and planted lots of bulbs. Picture: Groundwork East

Neville Chamberlain opened the station in 1926 with commuter links to London. A theatre and sports facilities were quickly built, generating 30 clubs and societies. Soon ICI and Roche located their UK headquarters to Welwyn Garden City.

Sir Ebenezer Howard OBE lived from 1921 in a humble three-bed house in Guessens Road until died in 1928. There are now over 140 garden cities across the world with many, including The Welwyn Hatfield Times, seeing Welwyn Garden City as the finest

From January 17 to 18 our town centre will radiate light to launch the year of celebrations. A city of trees project will also be 19,000 trees launched across the town, four new walks, concerts, sports events, a royal visit and lots more.

For more information please go to wgc100.org.

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