Olympic hero Max Whitlock MBE officially launches Harpenden’s new multi-million pound leisure centre.

Olympic gold medal winning gymnast Max Whitlock MBE  helped open Harpenden’s new multi-million pound leisure centre on Sept 24.

Max, who won his third Olympic gold at the pommel horse in Tokyo this summer, was born and brought up a few miles from the centre.

He assisted the Mayor of St Albans City and District, Councillor Edgar Hill with the official ribbon-cutting.

Joining them was badminton star Gail Emms MBE who won silver at the 2004 Olympic Games.

Customers of Harpenden Leisure Centre, sports clubs, school and community groups were also present at the launch at the centre in Rothamsted Park on Friday 24 September.

They enjoyed a number of family-friendly games and activities including tennis sessions.

Councillor Anthony Rowlands, Chair of the Council’s Public Realm Committee who was at the launch, said: “I am thrilled that Max agreed to come along and open the new leisure centre that we are proud to have delivered.

“He is one of our greatest ever Olympians, with six medals to his name, and his presence was inspirational to leisure centre users of all ages and abilities.

“The new centre is a great asset for the town and surrounding villages as it boasts not only a 25-metre swimming pool but also a learner pool, three exercise studios, sports hall and an 80-station gym.”

A number of other civic figures were at the official opening, including the Mayor of Harpenden, Councillor Paul Cousin and Bim Afolami MP



Pictures: top, left to right, Gail, the Mayor and Max; bottom, Max with an Olympic Gold checks out the centre’s gym. Below Max signs autographs in the Park

Above. Fizzbug show off their range of activities for babies and youngsters. www.fizzbug.co.uk

Below. Face painting by Fantastic Faces by Glyn

A New Local Plan for St Albans District inc HARPENDEN.

Presented by Jamie Day, chair of St Albans District Council’s planning referral committee, and vice-chair of its Local Plan advisory group.  Sept 23 at The Harpenden Society Public Meeting at Katherine Warington School, Harpenden.

WHY was a new plan needed?

The previous two plans had failed, the most recent in

2020 was rejected by Inspectors with an 18 page

letter outlining the key failings. Before attending this

meeting Jamie Day said:

“we will be responding to the inspector’s letter to

address the concerns raised. It’s extremely important

that the council progresses this Local Plan so that it is

able to manage the district’s growth in a sustainable

and positive way. Over recent years, the council has

made improved efforts to work with its neighbouring

councils and Herts County Council to demonstrate its

commitment to cooperating with our neighbouring

authorities, so it’s disappointing to be called out by the inspectors on that point.”

The Presentation.

We will be starting afresh and will be working together with the other political parties AND with a re assessment of the key components for the New Local Plan 2020 -2038:

* Call for sites

* Duty to Co-operate with neighbouring authorities

* Green Belt Review

* Sustainability and Climate Change Strategy

Housing and Economic Land Availability Assessment

Allowing for recent changes impacting on the New Local Plan:

Climate Emergency declaration

Corporate Plan with increased emphasis on Climate Change, Sustainability, Delivery of Affordable Housing, Tree Planting

New National Planning Policy Framework  & ‘ White Paper - Planning for the Future’- Now under review with Michael Gove MP

Covid -19

Longer Term Development Planning 2038 - 2050 via S West Herts Joint Strategic Plan

What’s strategic policies are required for consideration:

* Housing

* Employment and Commercial development

Retail and Leisure

Infrastructure for transport, tele comms, security,waste management, water, flood risk, provision of energy

Community facilities: Health, Education, Culture

Conservation, the Environment, Climate Change mitigation


There was a six stage process (already started) with data analysis, project plans and consultations to be completed in time for submission to the Inspectors by end 2023.

Harpenden Call for Sites:

4 new sites, 14 revised sites and 38 existing sites.


The audience of over 70 including a few of the younger generation spent over an hour questioning Cllr Day with their concerns. Here are some of the subjects covered.

* How many affordable homes would be included in the Plan?

* How will the location of houses be decided?

* Has anyone questioned the Government’s requirement for the high number of houses?

* Would SADC keep the same target of 1,300 new homes in Harpenden if Michael Gove gave Local Councils freedom to set their own targets?

Would an assurance be made that affordable homes  would only available to deserving groups?

Are there plans for more cycle paths?

* Harpenden is already overcrowded, how can more people be accommodated?

We need more schools and doctors. Are there plans for these?

The roads are always jammed with cars and not enough parking.

* What about the loss of Green Belt?

* It’s important that commercial sites are not lost.

* Let’s be positive and hope that a balanced view prevails.

Due to the precise nature of the questions, Jamie Day was unable to give answers but would refer them back for consideration in the planning process.

The evening concluded with thanks

from Society Chair Phil Waters to

Cllr Jamie Day for all his work on the


Harpenden Ladies Probus Luncheon Club meets bi-monthly at Hammonds End Golf club for friendly, informal lunches followed by a speaker.

Our Sept lunch welcomed Mr. Cummins, a very lively Chelsea Pensioner in his 90’s.

He travelled to Harpenden from the Royal Chelsea Hospital by train in full uniform, attracting many admiring comments on the way.

He kept everyone highly entertained with an illustrated talk about his life, past and present A Chelsea Pensioner lifestyle certainly sounded good.!

For further info. please check out our website …https://www.probus-ladies-harpenden.co.uk/

Confident chorus get set for 2022

One of the county’s best-known male choruses - the Kings of Herts - is launching into 2022 on a positive note.

“To borrow a slogan, we are aiming to build back better - after a year in which the Coronavirus took quite a toll,” said Mike Rose, acting chairman of the four-part harmony club.

First off, the barbershop chorus has begun revamping its repertoire to enhance its appeal in performances throughout north and mid-Herts, which are often staged in support of local charities.

“It’s a thorough overhaul, a modernisation if you like, at the same time as we start the hunt for a new chorus director,” said Mike.

A number of old songs are being jettisoned and new songs introduced that will be popular with both chorus and audience alike. “More sing-along moments at the sing-outs perhaps!” said Mike.

The Kings look ahead with a confidence born of their determined re-emergence after last year’s lengthy restrictions on gatherings.

They re-started rehearsals undercover outdoors in the summer and were back indoors in the autumn at their meeting place at Wood End Junior School in Harpenden.

“We are restructuring the meetings as well. They are always great fun but we aim to make them more varied and interesting,” said Mike.

The Kings have been entertaining for over 30 years. They welcome new recruits at their Thursday gatherings, which start at 7.30pm with initial attention focused on new songs but a more relaxed mood later in the evening. Social distancing and ventilation are still the order of the day at rehearsals.

“New voices are always welcome,” said Mike. “Barbershop is a great place to make friends and to release latent vocal talent - and you don’t have to read music.”

The Kings’ started a wide-ranging hunt for a new chorus director after member David Wren stood down on completing an invaluable holding operation.

Suitable candidates can get in touch with Mike via the website. “Barbershop experience is preferred but we will be pleased to hear from people from other genres,” he said.

More information can be found online at https://www.kingsofherts.co.uk

Hannah Nijsten impressed at the Saatchi Emerging Artists exhibition with her unique style and compelling backstories. A talent spotted by the Molasses House owner and now in the Harpenden Gallery.

Works from three collections are on display:

Black Beauty Collection

Black Square Series

Fiery Soul

When you own one of Hannah’s creations you are buying a stunning piece of art and a back story from Hannah that brought light into her life, somehow helping/inspiring her. OR with Black Squares, how the power of unity can bring people together for good causes.

I attended the launch in Harpenden on November 13. Meeting Hannah and learning about her background from original ambitions with meaningful  experiences to the creation of large scale power work was revealing. You have to see the work and stare to feel the emotion that goes into every work.

Barrie, the owner of Molasses can explain the background to each Collection in full detail and help you choose one that matches your personal preferences or introduces you to a new world of art appreciation. Ron Taylor. Editor

Molasses House

3 Station Road

Harpenden. 01582 712222


Harpenden Society annual awards for 2021 announced at the April 21 public meeting.

The The Prestigious Plaque was awarded to The Eric Morecambe Centre and will be presented at a separate event shortly.

The Certificate of Merit was awarded to The Children’s Play Area in Rothamsted Park.  Town Mayor Paul Cousin received this on behalf of Harpenden Town Council.

The Letter of Commendation was awarded to The Board Walk at Batford Springs Nature Reserve.  Town Mayor Paul Cousin received this on behalf of Harpenden Town Council.

The presentation was led by

Penny Ayres, (right) the head

of the Awards committee ably

assisted by Society president

Alison Steer (centre),

Helping us all to breathe easier

Members of the Harpenden Society learned at its April public meeting on April 21st that we could all – especially our children – breathe more easily if greater attention was paid to the not-always-obvious causes of air pollution in our environment. Guest speaker at the meeting was Dr Abigail Whitehouse, from London’s Queen Mary University, one of the country’s leading researchers in respiratory medicine.

    She pointed out that in addition to the more acknowledged ‘enemies’ of clean air, even in designated Low Emission Zones, aimed primarily at reducing vehicle exhaust emissions, there were less generally recognised causes of air quality deterioration. Those included, for example, wood-burning stoves and tumble-dryers (emitting micro-fibres).

    Meanwhile, in the confined space of one’s kitchen, the amount of particulate matter (mainly carbon) generated in cooking and making toast can, over short periods, create air pollution impairing the all-important lung function – of children especially – as great as in a traffic-clogged street.

    Dr Whitehouse concluded her detailed presentation with a plea for governments and local authorities to tighten air quality control legislation, saying ‘we should fight for clean air’ and ‘it’s time to start talking and doing’.


Dr Abigail Whitehouse. Academic Clinical Lecturer in the Queen Mary,(London),University Centre for Genomics and Child Health.

Ian Barrison. Society Committee and

Honorary Visiting Clinical Fellow

Postgraduate Medicine

University of Hertfordshire AL109AB