Stevenage celebrates its 75th birthday: Editor's letter

Stevenage town centre under construction in 1957.

Stevenage town centre under construction in 1957. - Credit: Archant

Stevenage has reached another mammoth milestone in 2021, as it celebrates 75 years since being dedicated the first new town. 

As the editor of Stevenage's longest serving newspaper - a role I began as the country entered into lockdown - I've had the pleasure of experiencing a tight-knit community of people who are incredibly proud to live in their town.

Comet editor Anne Suslak

Comet editor Anne Suslak - Credit: Danny Loo

Stevenage is notable for being designated the first 'new town' under the New Towns Act of 1946 - emerging into the future from the shadow of the Second World War. 

The New Towns Act allowed the government to designate areas as new towns and pass development control functions to a development corporation. The act helped relocate populations who were living in poor or bombed-out housing following the war - enabling them to move to land beyond the Green Belt around London.

Stevenage was designated as a new town when the act came in on August 1, 1946 - which was officially confirmed later that year on November 11.


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While the designation of Stevenage as a New Town was met with opposition from residents at the time - many of whom were resistant to a growing population - the growth allowed the town to flourish in the 1950s and become the town it is today.

With Stevenage Regeneration on the horizon, and with businesses preparing to bounce back from the pandemic, we are now at a crucial time in the town's development. 

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The Comet has been a part of Stevenage's story since 1971, and the new town's 75th anniversary follows on from our recent 50th anniversary celebrations. During that time a succession of reporters and editors have worked hard to get to the heart of the community, building local contacts and representing the issues which matter to the townspeople.

During my time as editor I have come to know the town and its people despite lockdown - as the community has rallied to support vulnerable residents and local businesses.

As you will read in this supplement, Stevenage has a rich history with generations growing up in the town and sharing their memories from its early days - and it will be exciting to see what the town's future holds.

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