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Garden city founder Ebenezer Howard gets Welwyn Garden City statue

Words: Martin Read

Garden city pioneer Ebenezer Howard has been commemorated with a statue in one of the two garden cities he established.

The man who founded the world’s first two garden cities, Letchworth and Welwyn, has been celebrated as part of Welwyn’s 2020 centenary celebrations. It has been located in Howardsgate, a part of the Hertfordshire town’s centre named after him.

The statue was commissioned by the Welwyn Garden City Centenary Foundation and sculpted by the artist Ben Twiston-Davies. It was funded through a combination of public donations and private sponsorship, and supported by Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council.

Howard (1850-1928) saw garden cities as part of the solution to rehousing people living in squalid city slums or dismal rural poverty.

Graeme Bell OBE MRTPI, foundation trustee and project leader for the sculpture, said: “We’re delighted that after all the delays caused by Covid we can at last install this iconic new addition to the street scene in our town centre. Howard had to contend with the Spanish Flu pandemic a century ago, yet he managed to get this major development off the ground which continues to be an exemplar for new developments around the world.

“Howard can be described as the father of modern town and country planning and his ideas continue to inspire our professional work.”

RTPI president Wei Yang FRTP said: “On behalf of the Royal Town Planning Institute, I would like to thank and congratulate the Welwyn Garden City Centenary Foundation for remembering Ebenezer Howard in such a special way.

“Ebenezer Howard was the first Honorary Member of the RTPI. He was a visionary thinker, a compassionate and selfless inventor. Howard was 70 when he founded Welwyn Garden City, but community – their health and wellbeing, was all he concerned about. Howard is a legend we will never forget. Facing our current challenges and the journey of this century, it is our generation’s responsibility and pleasure to rekindle his spirit.”

Image credit | Ben Twiston-Davies