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Simetral Limited 3 Century Court, Suite 11, Tolpits Lane Watford EN WD18 9RS
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About Watford

Watford

 

 is a town and borough in Hertfordshire, England, situated 17 miles (27 km) northwest of central London and inside the circumference of the M25 motorway. This Watford is not to be confused with Watford, Northamptonshire which is about 50 miles to the north. Cassiobury Park was once the manor estate of the Earls of Essex and is a public park in the town centre. Watford Football Club play in the Football League Championship which is the second-highest level of football in England.

Watford was created as an urban district under the Local Government Act 1894, and became a municipal borough by grant of a charter in 1922. The borough had 90,301 inhabitants at the time of the 2011 census. The borough is separated from Greater London to the south by the urbanised parish of Watford Rural in the Three Rivers District. The Watford subdivision of the Greater London Urban Area, which includes much of the neighbouring districts, had a total population of 120,960 in the 2001 census. Watford Borough Council is the local authority, with a directly elected mayor as head. The Mayor of Watford is one of only 17 directly elected mayors in England; Dorothy Thornhill has been the mayor since the directly elected system was set up in May 2002, and is both the first Liberal Democrat and first female directly elected mayor in the United Kingdom. Watford elects one Member of Parliament (MP) for the Watford constituency. Prior to the establishment of this constituency in 1885 the area was part of the three seat constituency of Hertfordshire.

 

 

Watford
Borough of Watford

Skyline of Watford

 

 

History

 

Origins

 

There is evidence of some limited prehistoric occupation around the Watford area, with a few Celtic and Roman finds, though there is no evidence of a settlement until the Anglo-Saxon period. Watford stands on a low hill near the point at which the River Colne was forded by travellers along an ancient trackway from the south east (the London area) to the north west (the Midlands) – heading for the Gade valley and thence up the Bulbourne valley to a low and easily traversed section of the Chiltern Hills near Tring. Watford's High Street follows the line of this route. The town probably originated as a string of houses on the northern side of this ford. It was located on the first dry ground above the marshy edges of the River Colne. The name Watford may have arisen from the Old English for "waet" (full of water – the area was marshy), or "wath" (hunting), and ford. St Albans Abbey claimed rights to the manor of Cashio (then called "Albanestou"), which included Watford, dating from a grant by King Offa in AD 793.

 

 

Early history

 

Watford is first mentioned in an Anglo-Saxon charter of 1007. It does not get a mention by name in the Domesday Book, but was included in the entry for the then more important settlement of "Cashio" which stood half a mile away at the crossroads of the St Albans road and Hempstead road near the modern Town Hall.

 

The settlement's location helped it to grow, since as well as trade along this north-south through route it possessed good communications into the vale of St Albans to the east and into the Chiltern Hills along the valley of the River Chess to the west. In 1100 Henry I granted a charter to Watford to hold a weekly market. The Parish Church of Saint Mary the Virgin was built in 1230 on the same site as an earlier Saxon church, along with stalls for a weekly market. The town grew modestly - assisted by travellers passing through to Berkhamsted Castle and the royal palace at Kings Langley, with the main developments being the 17th-century houses of Cassiobury and The Grove, which were expanded and developed throughout the following centuries. Cassiobury became the family seat of the Earls of Essex, and The Grove the seat of the Earls of Clarendon.

 

 

Economy

 

Entrance to the intu Watford Shopping Centre


Watford is a major regional centre for the northern home counties. It is the most westerly of these commercial centres and the only one in Hertfordshire. Hertfordshire County Council designates Watford and Stevenage to be its major sub-regional centres, heading its list of preferred sites for retail development. The primary shopping area is the Harlequin Shopping Centre, a large purpose-built indoor mall with over 140 shops, restaurants and cafes built during the 1990s, opened officially in June 1992. The owners of the shopping centre, Capital Shopping Centres, rebranded all their shopping centres, resulting in The Harlequin changing name to intu Watford Shopping Centre from May 2013. High Street, running through the town centre, is the main focus of activity at night having a high concentration of the town's bars, clubs and restaurants.

The town contains the head offices of a number of national companies such as J D WetherspoonCamelot Group, operator of the National Lottery; construction firm Taylor WoodrowHaden Young, the building services division of Balfour BeattyBathstore, the largest bathroom retailer in the UK; Mothercare; and coach operator JJ Kavanagh and Sons. It is also the UK base of various multi-nationals including Total OilTK MaxxCostcoVinciBeko and the Seventh Day Adventist Church. Both the 2006 World Golf Championship and the 2013 Bilderberg Conference, took place at The Grove Hotel.

The town was home to the Scammell Lorries Factory from 1922 until its closure in 1988. The site is now a residential area. Tandon Motorcycles, founded by Devdutt Tandon, were also manufactured in Colne Way, By-Pass road, Watford from 1947 until 1959. Models included the Imp, the Milemaster, the Superglide and the Kangaroo. Plans are underway to develop a new health campus adjacent to the site of the current Watford General Hospital

 

 

Places of interest

 

Cassiobury Park

 

Daffodils in  Cassiobury Park


Cassiobury Park was formed from the grounds of Cassiobury House and consists of 190 acres (0.77 km2) of open space. The house itself was demolished in 1927 and the original imposing gatehouse entrance – the Cassiobury Gates – in the 1970s, due to road widening. In July 2007, the park won a Green Flag Award, which recognises the best green spaces in the country. It has a children's play area which includes a paddling pool, play equipment, mini train track for children's rides, bouncy castle, ice cream van and a kiosk where you can buy food and drinks. The Grand Union Canal passes through the park. The name derives from a Celtic tribe the Cassii said to have inhabited the area in pre-Roman times.

 

 

Watford Colosseum

 

Watford Town Hall (to which the Colosseum is annexed)

 

Watford Colosseum was built in 1938 as the Watford Town Hall Assembly Rooms to the design of architect Charles Cowles-Voysey and acoustician Hope Bagenal. It acquired a worldwide reputation for its fine acoustics, and through out the second half of a twentieth century the hall was used for concerts and recordings by leading orchestras and musicians.. Rising costs and falling attendance led the council to close the hall in 1994, reopening it in 1995 as the colloseum in a joint management agreement with a commercial company who had previously operated at the Town and Country Club in London. After the management company collapsed in 2004, the hall was managed by Watford Council until April 2010, when it closed to undergo a £5.5 million refurbishment; reopening in August 2011 with new management.

 

 

Watford Palace Theatre

 

Watford Palace Theatre opened in 1908

 

The Watford Palace Theatre is the only producing theatre in Hertfordshire. It presents world premières, dance, family shows and an annual traditional pantomime. Situated just off the High Street, the Edwardian building was opened in 1908 and the 600-seat theatre underwent a refurbishment in 2004. It houses its own rehearsal room, wardrobe, cafe, and bar. The Palace also shows films and 'live' and 'as live' streams of opera and ballet during its theatre season.

 

 

Leavesden Film Studios

 

The Warner Bros. Making of Harry Potter Studio Tour at Leavesden

 

Warner Bros. Studios, Leavesden is a 80-hectare film studio complex which has been used for a wide range of Hollywood film productions. Part of the site is open to the public and houses the Making of Harry Potter Studio Tour, displaying costumes and sets from the Harry Potter films which were produced at Leavesden. The studio complex is to the north of the borough, around 4 kilometres (2.5 mi) from the town centre, and a special shuttle bus provides a connection from Watford Junction station to the studios.

 

 

The Pump House

 

The Pump House Theatre & Arts Centre is based in an old pumping station situated just off the Lower High Street. The building was converted for use as a theatre, with rehearsal rooms, and meeting place for local arts based groups. Current facilities include a 124 seat theatre, rehearsal rooms, and live music venue. Community groups currently meeting at the Pump House include Dance House (children's ballet), Pump House Clog Morris (women's Morris dancing), Pump House Jazz (jazz club), Open House (live open mic music), Woodside Morris Men (men's Morris dancing), child, youth and adult theatre groups and also the Giggle Inn comedy club.

 

Watford Museum

 

 Watford Museum, housed in a former brewery building on the Lower High Street, is home to a collection of fine art and sculpture which includes works by J. M. W. Turner, Sir Joshua ReynoldsWilliam Blake and Jacob Epstein. The museum also hold special collections related to the Cassiobury Estate, Watford Football Club, and local heritage, as well as an archive collection of documents, printed ephemera, photographs and diaries related to Watford townsfolk, local government, nobility and businesses.

 

 

Education

 

Watford Free School building

 

The earliest records of schooling in Watford are of a schoolmaster named George Redhead in 1595, and of a Free School receiving an annual donation of £10 in 1640. The school consisted of "a room over two houses belonging to the Church Estate, nearest the churchyard." In 1704, Elizabeth Fuller of Watford Place built a new Free School for forty boys and twenty girls on her land next to the churchyard, with rooms for a master and a mistress. In the mid-19th century, the recorded schools in Watford were Fuller's Free School, by now in a poor state, and the separate boys and girls national schools of St Mary's in Church Street. All offered elementary education.

State-funded elementary schools began to appear in the 1860s and 1870s. The Free School closed in 1882, and its endowment contributed to founding the Watford Endowed Schools, which provided secondary education and charged fees. After these schools, now called the Watford Grammar School for Boys and the Watford Grammar School for Girls, moved to new sites in 1907 and 1912, the building housed the Watford Central School, which taught pupils up to the age of 14. St Mary's National Schools closed in 1922, and the site is now a car park. The London Orphan Asylum, later Reed's School, was located near Watford Junction station between 1871 and 1940. The buildings are now the Reeds housing estate off Orphanage Road.

All the state-funded primary schools in Watford are co-educational. Under an earlier system, schools were divided into infant schools, covering Reception and Years 1 and 2, and junior schools, covering Years 3 to 6. Most such schools have amalgamated to form Junior Mixed Infant schools or (equivalently) primary schools, and all new schools are of this type. Within the municipal borough, there are now 6 linked pairs of infant schools and junior schools, and 14 JMI or primary schools, of which 2 are Roman Catholic. Watford is also served by schools in the neighbouring districts of Three Rivers and Hertsmere.

Although all state-funded secondary schools in Hertfordshire are comprehensive, there is a great deal of differentiation in the southwestern corner of the county, centred on Watford but also including most of the Three Rivers district and Bushey in Hertsmere district. Within this area, there are:

 

The partially selective schools and Bushey Meads School operate common admissions tests in mathematics and non-verbal reasoning each autumn. In addition to those seeking selective places, all applicants to Bushey Meads and Queens' Schools are required to take the tests, so they are taken by the majority of Year 6 children in the area. The partially selective schools also operate a common test and audition procedure to select children for specialist music places.

Results achieved by the schools at GCSE are also widely spread, including the three highest and the two lowest scoring state schools within Hertfordshire. The area also has by far the highest incidence in the county of children allocated to schools to which they had not applied.

The only independent secondary school in the borough is Stanborough School, a day and boarding school operated by the Seventh Day Adventist Church. There several independent schools nearby, including Purcell School, a specialist music school.

The Watford Campus of West Herts College is the only grade 1 further education college in the United Kingdom according to a 2011 Ofsted report. The Centre for Missional Leadership (CML) is the Watford branch of the London School of Theology, Europe's largest evangelical theological college, and teaches an applied theology course in missional leadership, accredited by Middlesex University.


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