Letchworth’s hidden historic homes to be part of new online trail

Letchworth residents who took part in a project to explore the history of their homes and the people who originally lived there could see their houses featured in a new online trail.

The Hidden Histories project, funded by ShareEast, was set up to commemorate the working men and women who came to the town and helped build its communities. Now a special exhibition  is taking place,  and an online trail is being developed to celebrate the findings, including work produced by children from Pixmore School, who collaborated on the project.

Vicky Axell, Learning & Engagement Manager at the Heritage Foundation, has led the project along with her colleagues from the Garden City Collection.  She said: “Many early Garden City homes were originally designed for workers who played an important role as early settlers in the pioneering years of Letchworth Garden City. Back in August, more than 120 people visited Museum at One Garden City to look through street directories, museum archives and original online census material to find out about those who lived in their home, and the role they played in shaping the town.

“As part of the Foundation’s cultural learning programme we now want to bring these houses into an online trail so that more people can explore these stories of Letchworth’s early settlers. Some participants in the project have been given a vinyl blue plaque to place in their window which indicates that their house is part of this project.  The plaques celebrate the role the residents played in the creation of Letchworth, the world’s first Garden City, in the same way as the original blue plaques in London. The exhibition offers a great introduction to the project and is a thank you to everyone who has taken part, particularly the children from Pixmore School.”

Head of Pixmore School, Alex Evans commented: “This project gave pupils the chance to use the Garden City Collection and become real history detectives using censuses, newspapers and street directories to find out who lived in their home. The children have a greater understanding about how Letchworth has changed over the years and how their homes have been modified to fit 21st century living standards. Working with our feeder infant school meant that siblings could work together and our new pupils met and worked with some of our older pupils which we think aided their transition into their new junior school."

The exhibition opened on the 7 December at the International Garden Cities Exhibition, Norton Way South and will run until 11 January, with the final day being dedicated to the general public, who are  invited to find out more about who lived in their houses.