Town Centre memories


By Elaine Spooner

Welwyn Garden City Library

Howardsgate shops

At the bottom of Howardsgate there was a large furniture company, William Perring.  Then there was Brickwall Nurseries – they are still there now. Next to them was Carnills the haberdashery store, then the Eastern Electric Showrooms – we always paid our electricity bill there.

Right on the end was Boots before they moved into the Howard Centre. On the other side was W H Smith. I can’t remember the shops further along.

Out of the picture, by the railway station was Woolworths. You went around the side of Woolworths into the bus station. The police station was originally on Stonehills – thats the big patch of ground by what is now Debenhams.

War Memorial

The green area in the picture is still there and the war memorial has been moved onto it. It was originally on Hatfield Hyde on Hollybush Lane.

The road going to the right in front of the Co-op (in between Smiths and Boots in the picture) has now been pedestrianised. You wouldn’t be able to park on this road so easily now!


This page was added on 11/05/2009.

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  • I worked at the council offices on the campus in the finance department in 1974. Does anyone else remember this

    By Martin Hellawell (25/01/2023)
  • I live in the United States but grew up in WGC. Sad to see Halfords has gone. Got my first bike there in 1973. A yellow Rayleigh Chopper!! The potato shop in Howardsgate wasn’t ‘Spud-u-Like’ it was called Mr Pickwick.

    By David (06/08/2022)
  • Robin Edwards recollections are very good, I bought my first large bicycle a Raleigh Trent Tourist at Munts and then added a speedo. The old coal burning fire in the middle of the shop was quite a feature, no doubt a health & safety issue if it was there today.
    Does anybody remember Pond Tool shop at the side of Boots, bought a mole grip there in 1969.

    By Jerry (09/04/2022)
  • Can anybody remember Snow’is Taxis based at WGC train stn. I think his name was Hooper or Cooper, he had been a boxer in London. I was at school with his daughter.

    By Jerry (04/04/2022)
  • Does anyone have any photos of The Coffee Pot ?

    By Bill Bowman (20/09/2020)
  • Re. Manager of the Trustee Savings Bank in Howardsgate, my mother worked there in the late 1960s/early 1970s – the manager then was David Haxton.

    By Andrew John (25/09/2019)
  • Great shame WGC lost its old station building unlike Letchworth. Anyone remember the large Finefare on opposite corner to the shoe shop (FHW?), the Readicut shop & a shortlived Spud-u-like on Howardsgate.

    By Eileen (10/08/2019)
  • There was on the town side of hunters bridge which I am told was made by Dawneys the steps to the station masters house then Jenner Parsons Garage at the end of the bridge opposite the bowling Green of the Cherry Tree then came Munts with the big stove pipe stove for heating next was Welwyn Printers and after that Fretherne Road was fields until the station building next to the station was Snows Taxis and then more fields before the houses in longcroft lane the only building on the other side was the white Police Station nothing more until the bottom of Howardsgate in Howard’s Gate in before the gap in the shops was the CooP Butchers and then the CooP grocery store there was then a dead end from Church Road with an entry to the CooP Dairy on the other side was the post office and Barclays Bank a foot path to parkway and a gap before Welwyn Stores the addition of the part extending to Welwyn Theatre is modern Welwyn stores had its own car parks where the roundabout is today the air rade sirens were on top of the fire station and another at woodhall they were also the fire alarms to call out the crew they were tested at 1pm every Wednesday the fountain was put in for the Coronation along with a boating pool in St George’s playing field by public donations in wooden buildings behind the council offices which were a fraction of the size that they are today in sherards wood which extended to Welwyn stores my mother used to que to obtain bottles of orange juice and bottles of cod liver oil other mothers obtained National Dried Milk there in the middle of Dawneys yard was a government warehouse containing emergency supplies during the war the street lamps were Green posts furnished with a 60 watt bulb at junctions and a 25 watt bulb between the ends Dame Flora Robson lived in Knella Road and worked at the Shredded Wheat factory when not making films Dinah Sheridan (mother of the Railway Children) lived in Parkway and went to Sherards Park School her parents owned Studio Lisa and were the Queens Photographer’s this has returned to me many treasured memories

    By Robin Edwards (18/04/2019)
  • My first job at age 16 was as a bank clerk at the Midland Bank on Howardsgate in 1961. The other of the big five banks of the time were either on or near Howardsgate. They were Lloyds, Barclays, Westminster and National Provincial. We had to exchange each others’ checks deposited, by hand carrying them, courier fashion. Our big famous customer was then millionaire, Garfield Weston who owned Fine Fare supermarkets. When he came to the bank, we all had to clean up the place for his grand entrance, My family and I emigrated to the US in 1963 and have lived there ever since. I am now 73.

    By Gail Morris (17/05/2018)
  • Before it was a Chinese restaurant it was the Coffee Pot as teenagers in the Late 50’s early 60’s we used to all go there to listen to the Juke Box, Past the Gas Showroom and Betsy’s used to be Underwoods Hardware store, there was also Pritchards Sweet Shop, and Lilley and Skinners Shoe Shop, does anyone remember the name of the record shops, I also remember Ivy Farley’s Hairdressers by the station she had a Bassett Hound and it used to lay on the road stopping the traffic and you had 2 portacabins by the station on sold papers and the other was a cafe and I think one was a Taxi Office

    By Margaret Mcleodm (02/08/2017)
  • Does anyone remember the name of the Manager of the Trustee Savings Bank in Howardsgate in the ’60s?  He was Scottish and it was a new bank then.  Thanks.

    By Lyn Ashton (10/06/2016)
  • A few doors along from WH Smith in the Parkway direction was the optician’s clinic run by John Cole and Mary (?) Dixon.

    By Robstan (17/01/2016)
  • There were many shops I remember on Howardsgate. There was the three banks: Lloyds (which was on the corner of the Stonehills junction), Midland Bank and Halifax. Cresta Silks moved there in the late 1940s and early 1950s, and W H Smith which sold amazing toys. Woolworth’s moved to next to the railway station in the early 60s, and I bought my 10d Kodak cameras there. There was the tobacco & confectionary shop, the footwear shop and W J Elliott Ltd (the music shop). I used to go get the photos printed at Boots from my camera on a Saturday. Oh the memories just override my brain.

    By George Boston (30/10/2015)
  • Frequently on my journeys to and from St Albans to school on the 330 bus I saw an advert for Betsy’s tea room in Howardsgate.   The advert was a little verse (no, not a little worse) which started:

    Who is Betsy? What is she, that one and all go there for tea?

    Her home-made cakes are quite a treat, she serves delicious           food to eat.

    I have a little bet with myself that there is nobody on the planet who can complete the verse, the remainder of which I have forgotten!

    Simmons took over Betsy’s tea shop.

    I travelled a distance equivalent to more than once round the world on the 330 and 803 Express buses to and from school.

    By Robert Oakhill (30/09/2015)
  • So the one and only chinese restaurant in WGC circa 1970 (apart from the restaurant in the Welwyn Department Stores) was called ‘Wing On’ ok Simon thanks i wondered what it was called i vaguely remember seeing it a few times tucked away around the back of the Wigmores south area, it was a bit of a conservative looking place by todays modern standards with white’ish full-length net curtains covering all the windows. Yes we tend to forget something like a chinese takeaway meal was quite an ‘exotic food event’ to have back in the 1960s and early 1970s.  

    By Michael S (29/08/2015)
  • I seem to recall that the name of the Chinese restaurant at Wigmores was the Wing-On.

    We lived in Welwyn Village and it was a treat to drive there in the 70’s with my father to collect our order of food. This was considered “exotic food” in our family.


    Simon W

    By Simon Wootton (21/06/2015)
  • Re my post of 31/05/2013, the manager’s name was Mr Unwin – in case anyone remembers him.

    By Robert Oakhill (20/06/2013)
  • Does anyone recall how quiet the town centre use to be during the 1970s after 6:30pm on a weekday or at weekends?. In the town centre I recall that there use to be a Chinese restaurant & takeaway in the area of Wigmores south but I can’t recall the name of this establishment over 40 years on?, it was possibly the only restaurant in the town centre at that time apart from the ‘Parkway restaurant’ in the Welwyn Department stores during the 1960s & 1970s?. Also I recall a fella in his mid/late 50s who owned a mobile Hamburger van that use to pitch up in the open car park area near to where the multi-storey car park was built (opposite the Cherry Tree in 1974) on most evenings back around 1972/73 I wonder whatever became of him?.

    By Michael S (31/05/2013)
  • I had a regular holiday job for some years at WH Smith in the late’Fifties and early ‘Sixties. The name of the manager escapes me at the moment (old age!) but I recall his habitual parting comment to satisfied customers: “Service with a leer.” I was working there on the day that Lady Chatterley’s Lover was released. I certainly don’t recall a busier day!

    By Robert Oakhill (29/05/2013)
  • It is incorrect to say that the Hatfield Hyde War Memorial was moved onto Howardsgate. Another Memorial was erected and Remembrance services are held at both.

    By Ray Crawley (10/02/2012)
  • that’s change now from 1950’s to present

    By Callum Precious (12/08/2011)
  • There was a shop called Palmer and Gilbert next to Midland Bank. It sold light fittings and bulbs.

    By Stella Harrison (18/10/2010)
  • Does anyone know what happened to the signboard for W H Smiths? I remember a paper boy, striding out with his bag over his shoulder, flat cap on his head and holding a newspaper aloft. A very 1940’s bit of design. Is my recollection at all accurate, I wonder.

    By Jennifer Mccann (24/11/2009)