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Hitchin is a market town in the North Hertfordshire
district in Hertfordshire, England, with an estimated population of 33,350.
Hitchin railway station is on the Great Northern Line, and
is also on the Cambridge Line as the last stop before it diverges towards
Cambridge, 1.42 kilometres (0.88 mi) to the north east of the Hitchin. The station
is a call on services provided by Govia Thameslink Railway under its Great
Northern and Thameslink brands. These provide direct connections to Cambridge,
Letchworth Garden City, London Kings Cross and St Pancras International,
Peterborough, Gatwick Airport, Three Bridges and Brighton. Journeys to London
and Cambridge typically take 33 minutes. Journeys to Stevenage is take 5
minutes, Peterborough 45 minutes, and Gatwick Airport 78 minutes.
Hitchin Rail Users Group serve as the local voluntary group
actively consulting with train companies on behalf of local people.
The A505, A600 and A602 roads intersect in Hitchin, which is
about three miles (5 km) from the A1(M) motorway and about ten miles (16 km)
from the M1 motorway.
Hitchin is about 14.48 kilometres (9.00 mi) from Luton
Airport, with a direct bus service linking the two. The connections are
provided by the 39 minutes by National Express (number 787) or 46 minutes by
Arriva in Herts and Essex (100 Saphire services).
There are several primary schools in Hitchin. Secondary
education is provided at Hitchin Girls' School, Hitchin Boys' School and the
Priory School. There is a campus of the North Hertfordshire College in Hitchin,
and it is also the home of the Benslow Music Trust which provides music
education for adults, while North Herts Music School adjoined to Hitchin Girls'
School delivers music lessons & activities for children & young people.
North Hertfordshire Museum has an extensive collection that
tells the story of the town and wider area from prehistoric times. The British
Schools Museum is housed in original Edwardian and Victorian school buildings.
Culture and community
In March 2013 a poll in The Times voted Hitchin the 9th best
town in the UK in which to live.
Hitchin hosts an annual Arts and Music Festival with over
100 events taking place during the month. Hitchin Festival includes picnics,
concerts, theatre, ghost walks, art exhibitions, comedy club, talks, summer
fetes and fireworks. Since 2014, Hitchin has hosted the yarn festival,
organised and run by members of Hitchin Stitchin.
Music plays a very big part all year round with many venues
hosting regular gigs. Hitchin Folk Club is one of the longest running and most
respected clubs in the country meeting at The Sun Hotel on Sunday evenings;
Hitchin Light Orchestra, Hitchin Symphony Orchestra and Hitchin Chamber
Orchestra give regular concerts often in St Mary's Church and Hitchin Band
perform around the country in brass band championship competition as well as
the home town.
An independent music venue, Club 85, hosts an "eclectic
mix of contemporary bands and DJs" in the area.
There are two small theatres in the town. The Market
Theatre, a professional theatre, has a year-round programme including comedy
plays, thrillers, historical shows, jazz nights and cocktail evenings. The
Market Theatre is known for its annual Adult Panto (running between December
and May) which also tours nationally. Additionally, the Queen Mother Theatre
hosts the town's Bancroft Players, Big Spirit Youth Theatre and occasional
visiting companies as well as Hitchin Films in the Richard Whitmore Studio.
Hitchin Market remains one of the largest in the area with
general markets every Tuesday and Saturday, a bric-a-brac and collectables
market on Fridays, and a Sunday Car Boot. There are also Local Produce and
Crafts specialist markets on the last Saturday of each month. A Lifestyle
market is held on every second Saturday of the month, while infrequently there
are occasional Art Markets. Hitchin Markets is also the venue for the annual
Duck Race during Hitchin Festival.
The town centre has a wealth of independent retailers in
food and drink and fashion and the historic core is a place to find niche
boutiques. Since 1995, Hitchin has benefitted from award-winning town centre
management and in 2009 established one of Hertfordshire's first Business
In 2019 the town's centre was a finalist for England in the
Visa/UK Government Great British High Street Awards.
There are a number of organisations for young people,
including 1066 Hitchin Squadron ATC, Hitchin Army Cadets, Sea Cadets Letchworth
and Hitchin, as well as various scouting groups.