Work visits to Stevenage
"Travelling to Stevenage"
During the course of 2010, I have made frequent visits to Stevenage as a result of changes at work. It is often very quickly arriving at the railway station - then travelling to our offices by bus, taxi or walk.
On my most recent walk back to the railway station, I again walked through the town centre, Market Square, and took some interesting photographs.
The pedestrianised town centre is the first purpose built traffic-free shopping zone in Britain and was officially opened in 1959 by Queen Elizabeth II.
Located by the clock tower and the ornamental pool is "Joyride" which is a mother and child sculpture by Franta Belsky.
Although innovative and very different for its time, the town centre is showing signs of age and in 2005 plans were revealed for a major regeneration due to take place over the next decade. I have been walking through it in 2010, and sadly is showing it's age and looks in serious need of a facelift and an injection of new businesses.
"I found the museum!"
I have visited Stevenage quite often this year (2010) and several times have been unable to find the local museum. However, I finally found it - I do have to say that I was a little surprised by the architecture involved.
I spotted an interesting external concrete bell tower and some stained glass windows; I went to take some photographs only to discover the museum entrance was next to the tower and beneath the windows.
The building in fact is both the Stevenage Museum and the Parish Church of St Andrew & St George. Sadly the structure seems to be in a rather poor state of repair although it may be due to it being concrete or age. Oddly the church element, furthest away from the tower is in the poorest condition - broken windows and poor repairs.
"Lewis Silkin - Government Minister who is to blame"
Stevenage was designated the first New Town on 1 August 1946.
The plan was not popular with local people who protested at a meeting held in the town hall before Lewis Silkin, minister in the Labour Government of Clement Attlee.
As Silkin arrived at the railway station for the meeting, local people had changed the signs 'Stevenage' to 'Silkingrad'. Silkin was not supportive of local concerns at the meeting, telling the audience of 3,000 people outside the town hall (around half the town's residents):
'It's no good your jeering, it's going to be done.'
Despite the hostile reaction and a referendum that showed 52% (turnout 2,500) 'entirely against' the expansion, the plan went ahead.
Interestingly and somewhat ironically, the New Towns Commission declared the Old Town would not be touched, the first significant building to be demolished was the Old Town Hall.