Seven things that are gone but not forgotten in Stevenage
- Credit: Archant
As Stevenage heads into a phase of change and development - with the town centre regeneration well under way, and new flats and housing estates in the pipeline - we take a look back at those little things that have changed as time has passed.
1. Vincent Motorcycles
The last Vincent motorcycle was produced at the Stevenage-based factory 65 years ago! Vincent Motorcycles manufactured their machines in the Old Town from 1928 to 1955.
Owner Phil Vincent bought out ailing motorbike firm HRD and moved production to Stevenage under the name of HRD Vincent. The factory was based in the High Street - a site which is now part of the Thomas Alleyne Academy.
Vincents produced collectors bike Vincent Black Lightning, of which only 30 or so were made. In 2008, one fetched a record £221,500 at auction.
In 2017, Kettering-based Vincent Spares company secretary Tim Kingham launched a book about the history of the motorcycle manufacturer, and hosted a book signing at the Stevenage Museum.
Who remembers the wonderful smell of all you can eat Chinese food wafting through the Leisure Park? A sweet (and sour) treat, for an even sweeter price.
- 1 Man arrested on suspicion of harassment after Stevenage and Preston incidents
- 2 What can I do and what opens when COVID lockdown rules ease on Monday, April 12?
- 3 Who is Slove? Spate of Stevenage graffiti prompts police appeal
- 4 Pictured: The first pints, haircuts, swims and more as lockdown restrictions ease
- 5 Inside the breathtaking £2.6million historic house that has its own 'party barn'
- 6 Stevenage's play areas set to reopen for first time in months
- 7 Have you seen missing man from Stevenage?
- 8 Former Hitchin and Stevenage MP Shirley Williams dies aged 90
- 9 Drive-in cinema arriving at London Luton Airport
- 10 Have you seen wanted Stevenage man?
The buffet-style eatery closed its doors in 2012, due to 'unforeseen circumstances', and the unit was soon taken over by franchise, Coast to Coast. It is now home to steakhouse and cocktail bar Firejacks.
The Leisure Park has seen many chains come and go - including a number of nightclubs. Most recently, the news emerged that burger restaurant Five Guys would be the latest to join the park. It has not yet been revealed which restaurant it will replace.
3. Paddling pool at Fairlands
Fairlands Valley Park remains a highlight for families and visitors to the town. Before the opening of the upgraded Aqua Park in the summer of 2009, children would enjoy the paddling pools and surrounding play equipment.
What was better than spending a hot summer's day at the lakes? Although the big boat is now gone, families flock to the lake's many attractions all year round.
The paddling pool many us will remember opened in the summer of 1972.
Although in later years the people of Stevenage came up with more colourful names for the popular nightclub, it remained a popular staple for a night out on the town until its closure in March 2016.
Saturday nights would consist of a few drinks in the High Street before taking the party bus across to the Leisure Park for a night of cheesy hits.
The club closed for a refurbishment, and relaunched as Bar and Beyond the same year.
5. Locarno Ballroom
Now home to Mecca Bingo, the former dance hall in the town centre was a popular venue in the 60s and 70s.
It famously welcomed legendary names like The Beatles, The Who, Stevie Wonder, The Kinks and The Rolling Stones to its stage.
In 2013, Stevenage Museum stirred up the old memories of the Locarno with an exhibition called Let's Go Dancing, when it was described as "an important social hub for our town", and where many people would have met their husbands or wives.
Now, the venue welcomes people for a different type of entertainment as a bingo hall.
However, Stevenage Borough Council's town centre regeneration plans would see the building demolished - alongside the Plaza, and the council office - to make way for a new public services hub and two new residential blocks.
6. Heathcote School
Whether or not you agree with the saying that "school days are the best days of your life", few can argue their time in education wasn't memorable.
Heathcote in Shephall Green first opened its doors in March 1956, and continued to welcome students up until 2012. It was named after the Heathcote family who resided in Shephalbury Manor.
The manor later became a house for evacuees in the Second World War, then a home for Polish officers recovering from illness. The Coptic Church bought the building in 1991.
It's not been that long since the Waitrose store in the High Street closed. But the protectiveness people showed towards it warrants its position in this list.
Following the announcement of the closure in July 2019, an online petition to save the store was signed by more than 2,100 people, demonstrating the importance of the shop in the community.
In October 2019, the store, which had been trading for 41 years, closed its doors for the final time.
Whether it was your go-to place for the weekly shop, or you just popped in on your lunch break, it was a staple of the high street for more than four decades.