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One effect of this is that the centre of the town is normally a noticeably quiet and peaceful place in the evenings.
One of the most prominent industries to arrive in the town in the early years was the manufacture of corsets: the Spirella Company began building a large factory in 1912, close to the middle of town and the railway station that opened the next year.
Industry would be kept separate from residential areas—such zoning was a new idea at the time—and trees and open spaces would prevail everywhere.
His ideas were mocked in the press but struck a chord with many, especially members of the Arts and Crafts movement and the Quakers.
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As one of the world's first new towns and the first garden city it had great influence on future town planning and the New towns movement; it influenced Welwyn Garden City, which used a similar approach and inspired other projects around the world including the Australian capital Canberra, Hellerau, Germany, Tapanila, Finland, and Mežaparks in Latvia.) There is a link to town planning in Stalingrad through the architect V. Semionov and an account of Lenin visiting the town when he visited England for a congress of the Russian Bolshevik party, then banned in Russia.
In 1898, the social reformer Ebenezer Howard wrote a book entitled To-morrow: A Peaceful Path to Real Reform (later republished as Garden Cities of To-morrow), in which he advocated the construction of a new kind of town, summed up in his Three Magnets diagram as combining the advantages of cities and the countryside while eliminating their disadvantages.Because corsets fell out of fashion, the factory closed in the 1980s, and was eventually refurbished and converted into offices.Another significant employer in the town was Shelvoke and Drewry, a manufacturer of dustcarts and fire engines which existed from 1922 until 1990; as was Hands (Letchworth), James Drewry joining them in 1935, who manufactured axles, brakes and Hands Trailers.Letchworth had a very diverse light industry, including K & L Steel Foundry, often a target for German bombers in World War II, the Letchworth Parachute Factory, J. Dent and Son (also known as The Aldine Press, Garden City Press).The biggest employer was British Tabulating Machine Company, later merging with Powers-Samas to become International Computers and Tabulators (ICT) and finally part of International Computers Limited (ICL).
Pubs that had existed from before the foundation of the Garden City continued – including the Three Horseshoes in Norton, The George IV on the borders with Baldock, and the Three Horseshoes and The Fox in Willian – continued to operate (as they do to this day), and undoubtedly benefited from the lack of alcohol to be had in the centre of the town, as did the pubs in neighbouring Hitchin and Baldock.