Stevenage is a town and borough in Hertfordshire. The town has a population of over 81,000 people. Stevenage is approximately 30 miles from the centre of the city of London, making it a popular commuter destination for working within the capital.
Stevenage became a new town under the New Towns Act of 1946, causing the population of the town to increase considerably. This was part of the government's plans to reduce congestion within London; to encourage people to move out of the capital and into the surrounding areas of newly developed and regenerated 'new towns'.
Stevenage has a pedestrianised town centre, which was the first traffic free shopping area to be purpose built within Britain. The retail sector provides a number of jobs within Stevenage. As well as the shopping areas concentrated around Queensway and the Westgate area, there are also retail and leisure parks on the outskirts of town.
Stevenage has its own literary heritage with prolific novelist E.M Forster being a resident of the town from 1884-1894. It is thought that the location for Forster's novel 'Howard's End' is based on the town of Stevenage.
Stevenage provides much employment for residents of the town, especially within the pharmaceutical industry. One of the key employers within Stevenage is GlaxoSmithKline which has a laboratory complex within the industrial area of the town. Stevenage has its own science park which has been open since 2011, providing many employment opportunities within the science and technology industries. British Aerospace, now MBDA has a large presence within the town and the aerospace, science and pharmaceutical industries remain at the core of Stevenage's economic prosperity.
The town also has a number of other successful sports clubs, including a woman's football team (Stevenage Borough Ladies FC) and Stevenage Rugby Club. Many top class sporting heroes have come from Stevenage, the most notable being Ashley Young, Lewis Hamilton, Ian Poulter and Jack Wilshere.
Fairlands Valley is a large area of parkland with boating lakes. The town is a very green town, with avenues of trees (typically Norway maple) throughout but also large woods such as Monks & Whomerley Wood, which is ancient semi-natural woodland
Close to Stevenage is Knebworth House, a gothic stately home and venue of globally well-known rock concerts since 1974. The house was once home to Sir Edward Bulwer-Lytton, Victorian English novelist and spiritualist.