Recollections of Letchworth

ON the face of it, what I did on Saturday afternoon was of no great significance. It was a beautiful, unseasonably mild day so my wife and I decided to go for a walk. It was a longish walk, by some standards, of about five miles, which began in Letchworth

ON the face of it, what I did on Saturday afternoon was of no great significance.

It was a beautiful, unseasonably mild day so my wife and I decided to go for a walk.

It was a longish walk, by some standards, of about five miles, which began in Letchworth town centre.

From there, as in most parts of the garden city, one can see the concrete twin chimneys of the old electricity generating station in Works Road.

As Letchworthians know, they are a particularly horrible blot on the landscape which have stood there useless for too many years.

But at long last something is being done to rid the skyline of the offensive sight, for work has begun on demolishing them.

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There's what looks like a flimsy bit of scaffolding and treadboards attached precariously to the very top of each tower and, if you look carefully, ropes hang from the dizzying height to the ground a long way below. I presume the steeplejacks being employed have a safe way of using these ropes to get to the top and chip away at the concrete but you would never get me to make the trip.

My feet prefer to be on solid ground, which they were on Saturday.

Our journey took us along Norton Way North and past what from the early days of the garden city was the home of the Letchworth Citizen newspaper. I knew some of the journalists who worked on it.

It was a giant in its time, playing an important part in Letchworth's story but its fortunes waned because it was just too small an operation and it was merged - in reality disappeared - with the Hertfordshire Gazette which itself was taken over by The Comet.

The Citizen closed quite some years ago but its building remained as it was, occupied for much of the time since by a windows company. But now, I observed as I walked by, the bricks and mortar are about to go.

High white boarding has gone up along with a sign that it is to be redeveloped for housing.

At the top of the road, turn right and we are into Norton Road. And there just around the first slight bend lies the old Norton School, a secondary modern which was not modern or good enough for the education authority which closed it down four years ago.

And it has remained empty since then, awaiting its fate.

The school was 97 years old when it closed. The complex of buildings is a mixture of woefully out of date 1920s structures and awful 1960s glass and steel monstrosities.

The site is destined for housing, and at last workmen have started to move in and get on with the job.

They have just begun removing the roof tiles from the boys' changing room. For personal reasons, I can hardly wait for them to begin giving the walls a caning with the demolition ball.

Just along on the other side of the road lived someone who old readers of the Citizen would remember with respect. Ted Long was the editor. A journalist to the end, after he died his daughter came into the Comet office to tell the sad news and brought with her a piece her father had penned he entitled Bits For My Obit (which in newspaper terms is short for obituary).

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