Letchworth community centre may not be back in business for months after being badly damaged in floods

Flooding affecting Howard Park and Gardens in Letchworth, with the social centre in the background.

Flooding affecting Howard Park and Gardens in Letchworth, with the social centre in the background. - Credit: Archant

A community centre which is home to a wide range of groups has had to cancel all activities for ‘the next two to three months’ because of damage caused by Thursday night’s flash flooding across North Herts.

Members of the social centre team outside the flooded facility

Members of the social centre team outside the flooded facility - Credit: Archant

The Howard Garden Social and Day Care Centre – one of the first venues in the country to provide a meal service for older people 60 years ago – was severely affected by the torrential rain that fell into the early hours of Friday morning.

The centre normally provides hot meals for more than 100 people during weekday social and lunch services, but was forced to close after flooding damaged the inside of the building.

The Howard Park and Gardens building also hosts a number of activities including a computer and IT group, a table tennis group, a keep fit class, a board games group, and an art class, all of which can no longer be held.

Centre administrator Bryn Roberts told the Comet: “Initially we thought the centre would be closed for the next two or three weeks, until we got a more accurate time scale for repairs and sanitising.

Flooding inside Howard Garden Social and Day Centre

Flooding inside Howard Garden Social and Day Centre - Credit: Archant


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“Unfortunately we now have to revise our original estimation quite substantially to two to three months.

“Key damage to the centre has been to the lounge area, where the keep fit, dancing and karaoke takes place, and in the dining area where floorboards have warped and buckled where they have soaked up water.

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“We have industrial-sized fans currently trying to dry all our carpets, and we have a loss adjustor coming in soon to assess the damage fully.

“I feel rather disheartened, especially when I called our lunch members to inform them. They were very understanding and many told me: ‘Not to worry, it can’t be helped,’ but I do feel as if we’ve let people down.

The bowling green at Howard Park and Gardens in Letchworth became a new outdoor swimming pool, accor

The bowling green at Howard Park and Gardens in Letchworth became a new outdoor swimming pool, according to @LGCtownwarden, but has now reopened. - Credit: Archant

“The effect on the community is substantial. Last month we had around 120 unique members coming in to use our services – whether it was for a freshly cooked lunch, coming to their favourite activities or just catching up with friends in the community.

“While we are making provisions to continue delivering what we can through other venues, we’re very uncertain as to what we’ll be able to do for our members and their families who so often rely on our services – but we’re doing all we can and hope to resume as soon as possible.”

Letchworth East district councillor Lorna Kercher, who is chairman of the centre’s trustees, added: “It’s a terrible shame as so many people rely on the great work that the centre does.”

The nearby bowling green, paddling pool and play area also had to be closed due to flooding, but all these facilities have since been able to re-open.

Norton Common play area in Letchworth has been flooded. Picture: Derek Oldham

Norton Common play area in Letchworth has been flooded. Picture: Derek Oldham - Credit: Archant

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