Our urban development

How our towns and villages came to be as they are

A new page under development 

The development of human settlements often appears to have happened at random, by chance. Some, however, appear to have been designed by computer, very regular and carefully planned. Of course, some towns (and villages) have been in effect torn down, with large parts of their earlier buildings removed to make way for new development: this has in fact been going on for centuries. A more recent phenomenon is the adoption of farm land in large tracts for building, mainly but not only of residential accommodation. Historians of urban development have been studying these trends for many years, with more recent attention being paid to how and why some of them came to pass. Who (if anyone) made conscious decisions? Who (if anyone) was in charge?       

In Hertfordshire we have examples of both long-standing towns and villages relatively unaffected by change and carefully planned developments for specific purposes, of which Letchworth is perhaps the best example - there are others. And of course towns such as Watford, and one could include Rickmansworth, have been rendered almost unrecognisable by the size and scope of modernisation over the last forty or fifty years. 

In considering the development of our area the members of the Museum and of the local historical societies have in the past, and still now, taken considerable interest in these matters, and these pages as well as many other writings and publications will include just some of the resulting work.