A real community’ in Welham Green

A visit to Welham Green uncovers a strong, tight-knit community which is fiercely proud of its history. Louise McEvoy reports

SITUATED between Brookmans Park and Hatfield, Welham Green has developed into a large village over the past 20 years but has successfully retained its sense of community.The thriving village is located in the parish of North Mymms and has been helped by the 1986 opening of its own railway station on the East Coast main line.One main hub of activity is at The North Mymms Youth and Community Centre in Station Road which opened in 1975 to provide a venue for a number of local organisations to use. It was paid for after many years of fundraising which started in the 1960s after a number of local residents and the then vicar of North Mymms, Reverend Barry Tunstall, set up a committee of like-minded volunteers.Over the years the centre has been the home of a youth club and is currently used by a number of privately run clubs ranging from ju-jitsu classes to dance and drama, and from tai chi and yoga to a senior citizens' club.Martin Ferdinando, a former member and subsequent volunteer at the youth club, says, 'The centre still runs as a registered charity with a voluntary management committee drawn from the local community, and it always welcomes new people to help. The committee continues to run jumble sales and quiz nights to raise funds necessary to keep the centre operating. Much of the centre has been redecorated and new toilet facilities installed.'He adds, 'The village does have a vibrant community spirit, especially among the older generation.'Welham Green resident and vicar at St Mary's Church on the edge of North Mymms Park, Reverend Sally Davenport, agrees with Martin, saying, 'I like the sense of community, where people are aware of one another and look after each other. There are families who have a shared history of living in the village that spans several generations. With incomers, the community is welcoming and enables them to integrate into village life.'When asked how she would describe Welham Green to a stranger, she says, 'A real community that's comprised of a good cross-section of interesting people of all ages, who have a real sense of their past and are hopeful and resilient about the present and future.'While Welham Green is well-known for its community spirit, it is perhaps most famous for being the first landing point for ballonist Vincenzo Lunardi while he was on the historic first hot air ballon flight in England in 1784.A stone plinth at the junction of Huggins Lane and Parsonage Lane in the centre of the village marks the landing spot which is now known as Balloon Corner.Despite the text on the stone plinth saying, 'Having handed out a cat and dog, the partners of his flight from London, he re-ascended and continued north eastward', the dog actually continued the journey with Lunardi. The cat was travel sick, which is the reason the balloon made its premature landing, and was left in the care of a local woman. Lunardi finally touched down safely in a field in Standon Green End in the parish of Thundridge, north of Ware. Apart from the stone plinth, the flight is also remembered by the naming of Vincenzo Close off Dellsome Lane.If you visit Welham Green, why not visit Balloon Corner before heading to one of the local pubs for a refreshing drink? The Hope and Anchor on Station Road is a great old building which was recorded as a pub in 1838, and The Sibthorpe Arms is also on Station Road.Don't miss visiting St Mary's Church, which has been the parish church for the communities of Welham Green and Brookmans Park since the early 1300s and has many stories to tell of its inhabitants in the parish, past and present.There are also 12 walks in the area suggested on the Brookmans Park website, www.brookmans.com. These walks, which you should allow about two hours each for, are all based around local pubs and are about three to four miles long and fairly easy;

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