Developed as a post-World War Two regeneration project in 1947, Harlow is both thoroughly modern and very traditional. When Sir Frederick Gibberd designed the ‘new town’, it was the first place in Britain with a pedestrian precinct and the first with a tower block. Yet, the market town and the surrounding villages that existed before the development give Harlow an older feel.


Part of Gibberd’s vision for a modern town included a good infrastructure for leisure and culture. This included one of the largest urban parks in the country. The 164-acre Harlow Town Park includes river walks, scenic landscapes, a paddling pool and an adventure playground. In early September, the Harlow Show is hosted here, with a wide range of musical performances that have in the past included the likes of Chaz 'n' Dave.

Harlow also has an intricate network of cycle paths that run all over the town. Unlike normal lanes, these do not sit next to roads, but are tucked away safely in quieter surroundings, among trees and greens. Gibberd also made sure that his town was scattered with sculptures by Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth.

The final wish of the man who designed Harlow was that his garden at Marsh Lane be opened for the public to enjoy. On the English Heritage Register, Garden Trust volunteers now maintain the beautiful land along with the sculptures, ceramic pots, groves, pools alleys and castle that adorn it.

Just east of the centre is the part of town known as Old Harlow. This more picturesque area is certainly worth a visit, with its village greens and cricket pitches. There is also Victoria Hall, a former church that holds a variety of events throughout the year, including many theatre productions put on by members of the community.

Also in Old Harlow is the Mark Hall Cycle Museum. With a unique collection of old and new cycles, you can learn everything about the history and evolution of the bicycle from the nineteenth century onward. The museum is situated in a lovely manor, with walled Tudor herb gardens. Admission is £1.50.


Harlow is something of a shopping Mecca. The Harvey Centre mall has a huge collection of big high street names, as well as cafés and restaurants. Nearby, the pedestrianised centre has more to offer, including a large outdoor market. This is particularly good for art and craft products.

Recently there has been a £60 million development of the town centre, with more shops, more cafés and even a water garden.

Nightlife and Eating Out

Around the town centre there are all kinds of different restaurants, from pizzerias to Indians, and a plethora of gastro-pubs. One of the nicer pubs is The Green Man, just on Mulberry Green in Old Harlow.

After dinner there’s plenty to do, whether you fancy going to one of the several nightclubs, having a game of snooker, or relaxing at the cinema.

Music buffs may have heard of The Square in Harlow. Former haunt of BBC Radio One DJ, Steve Lamacq, this council-run venue saw early performances from Blur, Coldplay and Supergrass.

Also in the town centre is the PlayHouse Theatre, which has a diverse selection of shows all year round.

Tourist Information

Harlow Advice CentreThe HighHarlow CM20 1ND Tel. 01279 446622


The nearest airport is Stansted, just off the Bishop’s Stortford junction of the M11. Trains and buses run regularly from the airport to Harlow.

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