What's it like to live in Hitchin / Letchworth / Baldock?

(33 Posts)
thell Sun 03-Oct-10 16:46:47

Hello lovely Hertfordshire people!

We currently live in South East London, but have been planning for some tim to move to somewhere that isn't!

So please tell me what it's like where you live...what are the people like? the schools? Is it a fun place to live, or quiet?
Would you recommend it?

We got a good vibe visiting Hitchin yesterday.

Any feedback very gratefully received.

thell Sun 03-Oct-10 17:13:34


champagnesupernova Sun 03-Oct-10 18:19:44

I'm a bit further towards London in a village nr B Stortford on Herts/Essex borders (Dh commutes, I work from home)
It's fab, people are great, schools seem good (though DS is only 2.5) and love it.

tethersend Sun 03-Oct-10 18:36:55


I grew up in Hitchin, and moved back to London (was born here) when I was 18.

When I had DD, I moved back- I'm afraid I hated it and missed London so badly we only lasted 7 months; however that was because I was 'going back' IYSWIM, and not necessarily a reflection on the town.

Hitchin does have loads going for it- loads for kids to do, plently of parents, lots of pubs, nice houses, parks, 30 mins from London, walks, charity shops a Waitrose shock everything you need really. I found the people a little unfriendly, but that was probably more about me wink

My mum still lives there, and it's a love;y place to visit- it just wasn't for us.

Hitchin was a great place to grow up, and was very racially and culturally mixed in a way that Letchworth and Baldock weren't (and still aren't). There are some love;y schools there. Actually, Hitchin is head and shoulders above Letchworth and Baldock IMO.

PiggyPenguin Sun 03-Oct-10 18:46:04

The schools in Hitchin are excellent. One of the primary schools is regularly in the Times top ten state primary schools list and both girls/boys senior schools do well in the exam results. There is also an up-and-coming mixed secondary in the town.

It is very parent-orientated, lots of activities for toddlers and children and as a newcomer myself I have found people really friendly.

fridayschild Sun 03-Oct-10 19:55:31

I went to secondary school in Hitchin. As a teenage it was really dull - 30 minutes to London meant any one who was old enough went there for the night life, and therefore nothing much happened. As a parent of children who will be teenagers, this now sounds great!

Dad worked in Luton at the time and my parents moved away while I was at uni. I've lost touch with school friends and haven't been back but my sister still goes there and likes it.

thell Sun 03-Oct-10 22:14:21

Ooh, some very promising responses!
We liked how mixed Hitchin was when walking around yesterday - a mixture of people, new and old, chain and independent shops, etc.
Everyone we spoke to seemed really friendly.
We're getting quite excited about having finally found somewhere that ticks most of our boxes!!
Even the kids that were hanging about seemed good-natured!

How would my slightly lentil-weavery credentials go down?

tethersend Sun 03-Oct-10 22:33:31

There are lentil-weavers aplenty in Hitchin; old school ones too wink You even have your own shops; Stripe and Harvest Moon. I'm sure you can guess what they sell grin.

You can't move for yoga classes and there is a huge music festival (Rhythms of the World) which happens every year. Live bands everywhere and they still serve snakebite and black in pubs. There is a folk club. There's a Sikh parade through the town centre every year.

Just don't, don't move to Letchworth. It's just up the road but it's a million miles away.

MrsJohnDeere Mon 04-Oct-10 14:02:01

I live outside Hitchin in a tiny village. I love it, but the village/area more than Hitchin itself (although it is fine).

Hitchin is quiet (except on a Fri/Sat night - usual small town drunken antics) but that's why I like it. Has the loveliest Waitrose in the country.

I'll probably get flamed for this but I don't find Hitchin itself - particularly groups/activities involving small children - very friendly. Seems to be full of pointlessly over-competitive parents trying a bit too hard to do the right thing (dh calls them the 'over-compensators').

Out in the villages we're lovely though.grin Much more laid back and friendly. Great place to bring up children. Everyone knows everyone and looks out for each other.

Some good primary schools. Secondary not that great imho (although better in Baldock - Knights Templar etc). My dc are at a state primary but we hope to send them to a private school at secondary level (or would move to somewhere with better state secondaries if we weren't able to manage the fees at that point in life for whatever reason).

I don't know Letchworth that well. There really is no reason for us to go there, despite it being fairly close. You get more house for your money than Hitchin, but that's about it.

Lio Mon 04-Oct-10 14:07:00

tethersend: I would be interested to know why you say Letchworth is a million miles away. Thell, I went to a veg growing course at the Letchworth Centre for Healthy Living on Saturday, you'd love it!

EssieW Mon 04-Oct-10 14:13:20

I grew up in that area. And don't live that far away now but a bit further south in a village near Stevenage (faster train links). There is a lot for younger children in the whole area.

Knights Templar in Baldock is a very good school. Hitchin Boys and Girls OK too. Baldock has a very good nursery school - they also do some forest school stuff as well.

Nice countryside - Greenway walk at Letchworth, nature reserves, community garden in Hitchin. Easy to get to lots of places, including London (though not South East London). The biggest difference for us as a family is being able to get out and do things (visit farms, country walks, shopping etc) far more easily than living in London.

MrsJohnDeere Mon 04-Oct-10 14:20:08

As a very non-lentil weavery person my impression was always that Letchworth was a much more lentil weavery sort of place than Hitchin!

Drusilla Mon 04-Oct-10 14:26:47

I second the over-competitive parents Am not in Hitchin itself, but moved just down the road this summer. DS at a small village primary, I have never seen such competitive parenting. Mind you, I came here from Glouestershire where it really is lentil-weavery grin

tethersend Mon 04-Oct-10 15:30:42

God, I thought it was just me with the unfriendly competitive parents!

I went to secondary school in Letchworth, so my knowledge is a little out of date but it still doesn't have the ethnic diversity of Hitchin and is much more staid. The town centre is not as lively and there are fewer pubs, what with it being a quaker town originally (and the first Garden City). I stand by my lentil weaver population assertion though- I think Hitchin has many more. Letchworth typically has a more right wing demographic. And the world's first roundabout.

I do not like Letchworth.

Lio Mon 04-Oct-10 16:12:13

tethersend, how can you not love a place with the world's first roundabout wink

Pro-Letchworth: Arts Centre cafe, Broadway Cinema, Mock Turtle (clothes shop), railway station in town centre, I like the library and the museum has lovely staff, naughty sweet shop and bakery that has yummy things in the window although I have never ever managed to pass it when it's been open! It isn't as chichi as Hitchin, for sure, but I heart Letchworth. No clue re schools.

RhinestoneCowgirl Mon 04-Oct-10 16:19:33

I spent my teenage years in Letchworth, my parents still live there. When I visit with my small children I can see it would be good for them - quiet, green, big gardens etc. As a teenager I found it incredibly dull and I now live in Bristol.

I went to school in Hitchin, would agree a bit more diverse (although Letchworth does have lentil weavery roots, Garden City and all).

midnightexpress Mon 04-Oct-10 16:27:48

OMG is Stripe still there? I went to school in Hitchin about a squillion years ago (left in 1984)and we used to get all our lentil weaver accessories in Stripe. grin

I grew up in one of the villages that in those days fed into Hitchin schools for secondary (no longer does, I think). I had a v happy childhood there, even as a teenager - it's close enough to London to be able to take day trips for older teenagers, and to be able to use London for shows, museums and all that malarkey. Cambridge also do-able quite easily for trips from Hitchin. As a young adult I hated the idea of living there again (booooring), but now I'm a parent I'd definitely consider it again (we're in Scotland, but may relocate in the nearish future).

Lio Wed 06-Oct-10 17:56:56

Thell, just had a thought: there is a folk club in Hitchin, which I'm sure will meet with your approval.

thell Thu 07-Oct-10 16:40:30

Yes, I'm very very excited about the folk club!

Thanks for all this info guys.
We saw the World's First Roundabout!
Letchworth definitely seemed like a weird place, but if there are good things to go there for, like veg courses, then it's easily accessible from Hitchin. I was expecting to love it, as I'd read it was quite arty and bohemian, but there doesn't seem to be that much evidence of it. And hardly any pubs! Bit worrying, in my opinion

I'm getting quite encouraged about Hitchin. I'll have to arrange a Mumsnet meet-up though, to side step the competitive parents! (lentil-weaving optional, of course)

squeezebox Thu 07-Oct-10 17:53:05

Hi there thell
We're considering a move to Hitchin, house on the market so really need to get act together and decide!
Am slightly worried people are saying there is lots of competitive parenting, that's one of the things I'd hoped to leave behind in London....
I have a good friend in Hitchin so know it reasonably well.
I've always liked the fact it's quite mixed people-wise. And it is quite arty/boho,friend always on some yoga thing or other.
When are you looking to move?

SuburbanFunster Thu 07-Oct-10 20:28:13

Hi everyone, thell's dh (hope I got that right) here. Thanks to all for some really helpful feedback. For me, H had a very happy combo of old/new, urban/rural - away from London but not too close - which is pretty much what we're looking for. Everyone we spoke to was really friendly and relaxed. Most exciting was to find it has at least three musical instrument shops (including the fabulous Myatt's).

Lio - hugs to you dear - we just didn't click with Letchworth, I'm afraid. Just too quiet and, well, planned, and, frankly, sober for me and Thell. You know.

Best wishes SF

thell Thu 07-Oct-10 20:32:06

Squeezebox, we're not actually moving for a couple of years - DD is newly ensconced in reception class at a very nice infant school, so that gives us a natural opportunity to move when she needs to move up to year 3. DH's dad is also in very bad health, so we need to stick around a bit longer to support his mum.

You can help us to settle in when we get moved, as you'll know all the ropes by then wink

thell Thu 07-Oct-10 20:33:13

Lio - there's lovely looking string specialist too

SuburbanFunster Thu 07-Oct-10 20:54:32

That was meant to say "close to London but not too close". You probably worked that out.

Lio Fri 08-Oct-10 15:56:53

Hertfordshire is rather well off for music-y things. My violin gets looked after by the fabulous Hill & Co in Welwyn. And you know about Benslow already, I think.

To my regret, I think I just am very sober: it would never have occurred to me that Letchworth is not blessed with pubs. I may yet consider Quakerism.

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