Borough of Stevenage
—  Non-metropolitan district  —
Stevenage Town Centre

Coat of Arms of the Borough Council
Motto: "The heart of a town lies in its people"
Stevenage shown within Hertfordshire
Coordinates: 51°54′N 0°12′W / 51.9°N 0.2°W / 51.9; -0.2
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Constituent country England
Region East of England
Ceremonial county Hertfordshire
Admin HQ Stevenage
 – Type Non-metropolitan district
 – Governing body Stevenage Borough Council
 – Mayor Councillor Michael Downing
 – MP Stephen McPartland
 – Control Labour
 – Total 10 sq mi (25.96 km2)
Population (2010 est.)
 – Total 81,800 (Ranked 283rd)
 –  Density 7,979.8/sq mi (3,081/km2)
 – Ethnicity
(United Kingdom estimate 2005)[1]
92.0% White
3.2% S.Asian
1.8% Black
1.8% Mixed Race
1.2% Chinese or other
Time zone Greenwich Mean Time (UTC+0)
Postcode areas SG
Area code(s) 01438
ONS code 26UH
OS grid reference TL2424

Stevenage is a town and borough in Hertfordshire, England. It is situated to the east of junctions 7 and 8 of the A1(M), and is between Letchworth Garden City to the north, and Welwyn Garden City to the south.

Stevenage is roughly 30 miles (50 km) north of central London. Its population was 1,430 in 1801, 4,049 in 1901, 79,724 in 2001 and 84,651 in 2007. The largest increase occurred in the 1950s and 1960s, after Stevenage was designated a new town under the New Towns Act of 1946.

It was the location for two films filmed and set in Stevenage, those being Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush and Boston Kickout. Spy Game was partly filmed in Stevenage but set in Washington, D.C.. The BBC sitcom Saxondale was set and filmed almost entirely in Stevenage.


Place-name meaning

Stevenage may derive from Old English stiþen āc / stiōen āc / stithen ac (various Old English dialects cited here) meaning '(place at) the strong oak'.

The name was recorded as Stithenæce, c.1060 and Stigenace in 1086 in the Domesday Book.


The present site of Stevenage lies near a Roman road that ran from Verulamium to Baldock. Some Romano-British remains were discovered during the building of the New Town, and a hoard of 2,000 silver Roman coins was discovered in 1986 during new house building in the Chells Manor part of Stevenage. The most substantial evidence of activity from Roman times are the Six Hills, six tumuli by the side of the old Great North Road - presumably the burial places of a local family.

A little to the east of the Roman sites the first Saxon camp was made in a clearing in the woods. This is where the church, manor house and the first village were later built. Similar settlements sprang up in the nearby areas of Chells, Broadwater and Shephall.

In the Domesday Book, its Lord of the Manor was the Abbot of Westminster. The settlement had moved down to the Great North Road and in 1281 it was granted a Royal Charter to hold a weekly market and annual fair (still held in the High Street).

The earliest part of St Nicholas Church dates from the 12th century, but it was probably a site of worship much earlier. The known list of priests or rectors is relatively complete from 1213.

The remains of a medieval moated homestead in Whomerley Wood is an 80 yard square trench almost 5 feet wide in parts. It was probably the home of Ralph de Homle, and both Roman and later pottery has been found there.

For a description of the medieval manorial records, and details of Stevenage's history from the Tudor period to the Victorian era - see the external history link.

In 1281 Stevenage was granted a twice weekly market and an annual fair. Both were probably held in the wide part of the present High Street to the north of Middle Row. The High Street is closed for an annual fair even today.

Around 1500 the Church was much improved, with decorative woodwork within, and with the addition of a clerestory.

It was in the 16th century (1558) that Thomas Alleyne, most probably a former monk, founded a free grammar school for boys, Alleyne's Grammar School, which had an unbroken existence (unlike the grammar school in neighbouring Hitchin) till 1989. Francis Cammaerts was headmaster of the school from 1952 to 1961. The school (now a mixed comprehensive school) still exists on its original site at the north end of the High Street. It was intended to move the school to Great Ashby but the Coalition government has proposed the scrapping of the move owing to budget cuts.

Stevenage's prosperity came in part from the North Road, which was turnpiked in the early 18th century. Many inns in the High Street served the stage coaches, 21 of which passed through Stevenage each day in 1800.

In 1857 the Great Northern Railway was constructed, and the era of the stage coach had ended. Stevenage grew only slowly throughout the 19th century and a second church (Holy Trinity) was constructed at the south end of the High Street. In 1861 Dickens commented "The village street was like most other village streets: wide for its height, silent for its size, and drowsy in the dullest degree. The quietest little dwellings with the largest of window-shutters to shut up nothing as if it were the Mint or the Bank of England."

In 1928, Philip Vincent bought the HRD Motorcycle Co Ltd out of receivership, immediately moving it to Stevenage and renaming it the Vincent HRD Motorcycle Co Ltd. He produced the legendary motorcycles, including the Black Shadow and Black Lightning, in the town until 1955.

Modern Stevenage

This slow growth continued until, after the Second World War, the Abercrombie Plan called for the establishment of a ring of new towns around London. It 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 Lewis Silkin arrived at the railway station for this meeting, some local people had changed the signs 'Stevenage' to 'Silkingrad'. Silkin was obstinate at the meeting, telling a crowd 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 to Silkin, and a referendum that showed 52% (turnout 2,500) 'entirely against' the expansion, the plan went ahead.[2] Ironically, although the New Towns Commission declared the Old Town would not be touched, the first significant building to be demolished in it was indeed the Old Town Hall, in which the opposition had been expressed.

In keeping with the sociological outlook of the day, the town was planned with six self-contained neighbourhoods. The first two of these to be occupied were the Stoney Hall and Monks Wood "Estates" in 1951. Next to be built and occupied by the London 'overspill' was Bedwell in 1952 – The Twin Foxes pub was Stevenage's first "new" public house and is still situated in the Bedwell estate. The public house was named after local notorious identical twin poachers (Albert Ebenezer and Ebenezer Albert Fox). Next came Broadwater and Shephall (1953), then Chells in the 1960s and later Pin Green and Symonds Green. Another area to the north of the town is modern development of Great Ashby – this is still under construction as of 2011.

At least three other public houses are worth mentioning, for they have a direct relationship to local history: the name of the pub "Edward the Confessor" (closed 2006) could have a connection to the time in which the St Mary Church in nearby Walkern was built, for King Edward ruled from 1042 until his death in 1066. Walkern's village church dates from this time. The second pub with a strong bond to local history seems to be the "Our Mutual Friend" in Broadwater, for the name of the pub is the title of a novel by Charles Dickens. Dickens was at some occasion guest to Sir Edward Bulwer-Lytton in nearby Knebworth House, and for that reason he knew Stevenage very well. The Pied Piper in Broadwater is the only public house in the world to be opened by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.[citation needed]

Middle Row, Stevenage Old Town
Pedestrianised Town Centre
Cycle Track in Roundabout
High Street in the Old Town

The pedestrianised town centre was the first purpose built traffic-free shopping zone in Britain, and was officially opened in 1959 by the Queen.[3] By the clock tower and ornamental pool is Joyride, a mother and child sculpture by Franta Belsky. Although revolutionary 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. Details are still being debated by the council, landowners and other interested parties.

Next to the Town Gardens, the Church of St George and St Andrew is an example of modern church design, and has housed Stevenage Museum in its crypt since 1976. The church is a 'cathedral-like' Grade 2 listed building. It is also the largest parish church to have been built in England since World War Two.

Her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother laid the Foundation Stone in July 1956 and was also present at the consecration by the Bishop of St Albans, the Right Reverend Michael Gresford-Jones, on Advent Sunday 27 November 1960. The frame is constructed from a 'continuous pour' of concrete into moulds creating interlacing arches and leaving no apparent joints. There are twelve Purbeck marble columns about the High Altar and the external walls are clad in panels faced with Normandy pebble. The campanile houses the loudspeakers for an electro-acoustic carillon.

In the old town centre of Stevenage, next to St Nicholas Church, in the parochial house there, called Rooksnest ("under the big wych-elm") the novelist Edward Morgan Forster lived from 1884 to 1894. Stevenage later acquired a monument through him, when he had Rooksnest in mind as a role model for the setting of his novel Howards End. In the preface of one paperback edition of Howards End, there is a lot to be found about landmarks of Stevenage and their relationship to the story of the novel, such as the Stevenage High Street and the Six Hills. The land north of St Nicholas Church, known as Forster Country, is the last remaining farmland within the boundary of Stevenage borough.[4] Forster was unhappy with the development of new Stevenage, which would, in his words, 'fall out of the blue sky like a meteorite upon the ancient and delicate scenery of Hertfordshire'.[2]

Also close to Stevenage is Knebworth House, a gothic stately home and venue of globally well-known rock concerts since 1974. The house was once home to Sir Edward Bulwer-Lytton, Victorian English novelist and spiritualist, who, as reported by one of his visitors, was so deep in the belief of spiritual realities that he sometimes thought himself to be invisible while others were around.

In 1999 a millennium countdown clock was mounted on the town centre clock tower, displaying the time remaining until the year 2000. The artwork on the clock was designed by Nicola Reed, a pupil of Fearnhill School, Letchworth.

Adjacent to, yet separate from the residential parts of the town, is the Industrial Area. For many years, British Aerospace (now MBDA) was the largest employer in the town, but now GlaxoSmithKline has a large pharmaceutical research laboratory complex (which is known as 'The Palace' to many of its inhabitants [5] . A smaller but interesting enterprise is Astrium which has for some decades (as part of British Aerospace and its predecessors) manufactured spacecraft, both as prime contractor and equipment supplier.

There are many small to medium size firms as well. Stevenage BioScience Catalyst, a new science park aimed at attracting small and start-up life sciences enterprises, opened in 2011 on a site next to GSK. [6]

The town is still growing. It is set to expand west of the A1(M) motorway and may be further identified for development depending on the outcome of the Examination In Public of the Regional Spatial Strategy. The main area of recent development is Great Ashby to the northeast of the town (but actually in North Herts District).

Stevenage holds a number of annual events, including the Stevenage Day, Rock in the Park and Stevenage Carnival.



Stevenage experiences an oceanic climate (Köppen climate classification Cfb) similar to almost all of the United Kingdom.

Climate data for Stevenage
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 7
Average low °C (°F) 2
Precipitation mm (inches) 45.1
Source: [7]

Sport and leisure

Stevenage has a King George's Field named in memory of King George V, which boasts cricket and a bowls green, which is used by Stevenage Town Bowls Club. The field was the original pitch that Stevenage FC used to play on. The cricket ground is called Ditchmore Lane. The Stevenage Leisure Centre contains the Gordon Craig Theatre and many facilities for sports. The nearby Stevenage Leisure Park has a multiplex cinema, clubs and restaurants. The main shopping area is around Queensway and the Westgate. At the south of the town there is a retail park called Roaring Meg, which takes its name from a stream (a tributary of the river Beane) that runs under it. The river can be seen along the western edge of the area. There is also shopping in the Old Town. The Roaring Meg did have an ice rink but this was shut down.[when?]

Stevenage F.C., formerly known as Stevenage Borough,[8] are the town's major football team. The club won the Conference National during the 2009–10 season, having previously been denied promotion to the Football League due to insufficient ground facilities in 1996.[9] During Stevenage's first season as a Football League club, they secured back-to-back promotions to League One, the third tier of English football, after beating Torquay United 1–0 in the 2010–11 play-off final at Old Trafford.[10] The club also won the FA Trophy in 2007 beating Kidderminster Harriers 3–2 at Wembley Stadium in front of a crowd of 53,262.[11] It was the first competitive club game and cup final to be held at the new stadium.[12] The club reached the final again in 2009, beating York City 2–0.[13]

The town also has a number of other successful sports clubs, including a woman's football team (Stevenage Borough Ladies FC) and Stevenage Rugby Club. Many top class sporting heroes have come from Stevenage, the most notable being Ashley Young, Lewis Hamilton, Ian Poulter and Jack Wilshere.

Fairlands Valley is a large area of parkland with boating lakes. The town is a very green town, with avenues of trees (typically Norway Maple) throughout but also large woods such as Monks & Whomerley Wood, which is ancient semi-natural woodland. Indeed in the UK it is only matched for the ease of access to large woodland by places such the Forest of Dean (Woodland Trust data). There are also many playing fields (e.g. St. Nicholas playing fields near Ripon Road). The town's schools all have a substantial amount of ground; key examples are Ashtree Primary School, Moss Bury Primary School, Longmeadow Primary School and Barnwell.


A distinctive feature of Stevenage is its urban landscape. It has many roundabouts, [14] few traffic lights, a network of completely segregated cycle tracks, and some of the tallest street-lights in Britain.

Buses within and to outside the town are provided by several operators, the main within the town being Arriva The Shires and also the service which was based in Luton called Centre Bus. There was a service called Sovereign however Arriva The Shires took this service over from 2005-2006.

Stevenage is served by the A1(M) motorway, taking traffic both north and south. It is also served by the smaller A602 road taking traffic southeast, meeting the A10 road at Ware.

The town is served by Stevenage railway station, a busy stop on the East Coast Mainline. As such regular trains to London and points north are available.

Notable inhabitants

Born in Stevenage
Lived in Stevenage
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  • Miguel of Portugal, King of Portugal between 1828 and 1834, is reputed to have lived on the High Street around 1845[15]
  • Nicki Pedersen World Speedway Champion
  • Kevin Phillips (b. 1973), footballer
  • Rob Playford (b. 1968), Drum and Bass Pioneer and founder of Moving Shadow Records
  • Elizabeth Poston, composer, lived in Rooks Nest from 1914 to 1987.[15]
  • Ian Poulter (b. 1976), golfer
  • Naum Slutzky (1894–1965), designer, master of Weimarer Bauhaus
  • John Thurloe (1616–1668), secretary to Oliver Cromwell, lived in what is now the Cromwell Hotel.
  • Phil Vincent (1908–1979), British motorcycle pioneer
  • Henry Trigg, 18c. farmer who wanted to come back from the dead after 30 years. His coffin was placed on a beam in a barn which later became a bank in Old Stevenage.[16]
  • Anthony (Tony) John Wright (b. 1962), cricketer
  • Karen Woo, surgeon, killed along with other aid workers in Afghanistan ( 2010 Badakhshan massacre )


Many schools were built in the 1950s/60s due to an influx of Londoners to affordable terraced housing in areas such as Shephall, Broadwater, Chells and St Nicholas. The town has around 23 primary schools (see below). Some go to the surrounding villages of Aston, Benington, Walkern, Datchworth for their schooling. Stevenage also has a number of secondary schools.

Primary schools


  • Round Diamond (Relocated to Great Ashby from the Pin Green area)
  • Lodge Farm
  • Martins Wood
  • Giles
  • The Leys
  • Moss Bury
  • Trotts Hill
  • Bedwell
  • St Vincent de Paul RC (collaboration of Pope Pius XII RC JMI and St John Southworth RC JMI, September 1990)
  • Almond Hill & Letchmore Rd
  • Ashtree
  • St Nicholas C of E
  • Featherstone Wood
  • Broom Barns
  • Fairlands
  • Peartree Spring Infants [1] and Junior [2]
  • St Margaret Clitherow RC
  • Roebuck
  • Longmeadow
  • Woolenwick
  • Redemption Academy
  • Shephalbury park primary school
  • Nobel


Special Needs schools

  • Larwood
  • Lonsdale
  • Greenside
  • The Valley School
  • Barnwell (containing the VIBase for the Visually impaired pupils and the SPLD Base for Pupils with specific learning difficulties)

Secondary schools

  • Barnwell School Barnwell, SG2 9SW (In 2006, Barnwell school took in students from Collenswood School after its closure. Students are now taught on two sites: Barnwell East and Barnwell West.)
  • The Barclay School (a technology college specialist ICT college), Walkern Rd, Stevenage, SG1 3RB
  • The Heathcote School (a specialist engineering college), Shephall Green, Stevenage, SG2 9XT
  • John Henry Newman RC (a specialist arts school) Hitchin Road, Stevenage, SG1 4AE
  • Marriotts School (a sports college), Telford Avenue, Stevenage, SG2 0AN
  • The Nobel School (a specialist performing arts and science DCSF training school), Mobbsbury Way, Stevenage, SG2 0HS [3]
  • The Thomas Alleyne School, (a specialist science college) No. 1, High Street, SG1 3BE

Former schools

  • Pope Pius XII RC JMI (site in Chells closed and amalgamated with St John Southworth RC JMI, September 1990)
  • St John Southworth RC JMI
  • Pin Green JMI
  • Shephalbury Park Primary School (amalgamated with Shephall Green Infant School in September 2005, now closed)
  • Collenswood School (secondary school, closed in 2006 and the site became part of Barnwell School)
  • Stevenage Girls School (amalgamated with Alleynes School to become Thomas Alleynes School)
  • Chells School (a secondary school, the former site of which is now occupied by The Nobel School)
  • Burydale

St Michael's (Catholic boys secondary school, moved from Mount St. Michael France to Hitchin then to Stevenage now amalgamated with St Angela's to form John Henry Newman)

Places of worship

Stevenage has an active network of churches of many denominations. Many of the churches work together for town-wide projects under the banner of "Churches Together in Stevenage". Stevenage also has a mosque.

Some of the churches are listed here:

Sister Cities

City Country Year
Ingelheim am Rhein Germany Germany 1963
Autun France France 1975
Kadoma Zimbabwe Zimbabwe 1989
Shymkent Kazakhstan Kazakhstan 1990


  1. ^ "Resident Population Estimates by Ethnic Group (Percentages)". Neighbourhood Statistics. Retrieved 28 February 2010. 
  2. ^ a b David Kynaston (2008). Austerity Britain 1945–51. Bloomsbury. pp. 161, 162. ISBN 9780747599234. 
  3. ^ McKean, Charles (1982). Architectural guide to Cambridge and East Anglia since 1920. ERA Publications Board, RIBA Eastern Region. p. 174. ISBN 9780907598015. 
  4. ^ "Where is Forster Country?". Friends of the Forster Country. 28 August 2007. Retrieved 23 August 2009. 
  5. ^ "Peter's weather website". Retrieved 20 November 2011. 
  6. ^ "Minister performs topping out ceremony". July 14, 2011. Retrieved 20 November 2011. 
  7. ^ "Averages for Stevenage". 
  8. ^ "Stevenage to drop Borough from name". BBC Sport. 2010-05-18. Retrieved 2010-05-17. 
  9. ^ "Kidderminster 0–2 Stevenage". BBC Sport. 2010-04-17. Retrieved 2010-04-17. 
  10. ^ "Stevenage promoted to League One by beating Torquay". BBC Sport. 2011-05-28. Retrieved 2011-07-21. 
  11. ^ "Kidderminster 2–3 Stevenage". BBC Sport. 2007-05-12. Retrieved 2009-08-23. 
  12. ^ "Henry the first". 2007-05-13. Retrieved 2009-08-13. 
  13. ^ "Stevenage 2–0 York". BBC Sport. 2009-05-09. Retrieved 2009-07-22. 
  14. ^ Green Heart Partnership. "Stevenage "sunken" roundabout". Retrieved 20 November 2011. 
  15. ^ a b "So Stunning: Old Town". Stevenage Borough Council. Retrieved 15 April 2011. 
  16. ^ "So Stunning: Eccentric/motorcycles". Stevenage Borough Council. Retrieved 15 April 2011. 

External links

Coordinates: 51°54′N 0°12′W / 51.9°N 0.2°W / 51.9; -0.2

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