Growing up and Living in Letchworth

Reflections on growing and working in Letchworth Garden City

By John White

As a boy in the early1950s I lived with my family above my father’s shop called ‘Orchard House’, Commerce Avenue, Letchworth which traded in and delivery of groceries, cooked meat, cheese and other household goods.

Our shop was positioned oppsite the entrance to the then Commerce Lane which has already been commented here in a previous posting. Green’s furniture storage depository was opposite with Mini Brown’s ladies hairdressers alongside.  Next to our shop was Mr.Norris’s ‘Auto Supplies’ selling car parts and vehicle accessories and further along towards Leys Avenue was Whiteheads petrol and service station and then Notts Bakery which made bread and cakes overnight for the Notts shops in Eastcheap and Leys Avenue.

Commerce Avenue was originally a two way road that ran from Gernon Road (opposite Gernon Walk) through to Leys Avenue alongside WH Smith which still trades today on the same site. Commerce Avenue and Commerce Lane was erased in the 1970s to be replaced by the privately owned pedestrain shopping development now called Central Approach and Commerce Way.

I went to Westbury Junior school in West View then Pixmore Secondary in Ridge Avenue which on closure moved to the new Willian School on the Jackmans Estate that now has been replaced with housing. During the last two years of my schooling I was elected headboy and became one of the first Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award holders in the County with the award being presented at Buckingham Palace.

At the age of seventeen my parents moved to Sussex and I followed starting work as an architect’s assistance in a practice in Worthing.

A year later I returned to Letchworth and joined the Hertfordshire Constabulary as a Police Cadet serving at Stevenage and then Hitchin. At 19 years I became a Police Constable and posted to Letchworth where I spent the next four years learning my trade. I tranfered to Welwyn Garden City and gained promotion to Sergeant before moving back to Hitchin and Letchworth and then onto other postings in Hertfordshire before retirment.

I still live with my family in Letchworth Garden City and continue to enjoy what the world’s first Garden City has to offer.

John White

13th March 2015 

This page was added on 27/10/2014.

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