To bridge a divided town

PUBLISHED: 12:37 14 February 2009 | UPDATED: 22:07 26 October 2009

SIR - It is sad to learn of the death of long time resident Tony Rawlinson. For apart from his contribution to much cultural athletic and charity life, he must be the last direct family link to Ebenzer Howard, his grandfather, with whom he lived for a ti

SIR - It is sad to learn of the death of long time resident Tony Rawlinson.

For apart from his contribution to much cultural athletic and charity life, he must be the last direct family link to Ebenzer Howard, his grandfather, with whom he lived for a time before Howard's death in 1928.

Without Howard there would have been no WGC, for it was Howard, entirely on his own and with no money, who bought the first great area of land at the public auction in 1920.

The headline news (WHT, January 21) regarding the Tesco initial proposals for the Shredded Wheat and Broadwater Road site makes exciting reading.

The named architects are a well respected firm, and the proposed community facilities, though, no doubt a carrot in respect of a supermarket, are much needed.

There is still much negotiation and public consultation to take place, a major concern being the effect on the existing town centre shops and stores.

Both before and after the war, a group of local architects used to meet to discuss the town and its future.

The social and commercial separation of the town by the main railway line had already become a major concern in the 1920's and 1930's.

Indeed I have friends who grew up on the East side and after moving to the West side over 50 years ago, still are conscious of how they felt second class citizens. Trying to overcome this town separation was a major objective of the Development Corporation when they took over the town in 1948; an example being their building of the main hotel complex on the east.

One idea of the architects group was to extend Howardsgate over the railway line with a wide bridge, lined with shops on each side, and leading to an area to echo the character of the west side commercial. Of course this hit the cost and railway buffers, but was imaginative.

Of great concern is the almost total loss of manufacturing and industrial usage in the redevelopment of previous industrial land throughout the UK, not least in the New Towns and Welwyn and Hatfield.

The replacement by service and financial business as our National Salvation is now in total disarray, confirming the views held by many of my retired business friends for years, not least the 'old fashioned' bank managers, that one day it may be seen that the Emperor has no clothes!

David Sutcliffe, Hatfield.

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