Stevenage Museum has launched a new exhibition which explores the history of the iconic town centre.

The exhibition, Talking Shop - which is funded by Historic England - displays the change in shopping habits, unseen pictures of the centre and a film showcasing fond memories of the high street.

Stevenage town centre opened in 1958 and was the first of its kind, as it was the only pedestrian-only shopping centre in the UK at the time.

The Comet: A view of Queensway as it might have been with trafficA view of Queensway as it might have been with traffic (Image: Stevenage Museum)

Tony Calladine, Historic England Regional Director, said: “When it was created, over 75 years ago, Stevenage town centre was a groundbreaking pedestrian development, one of the earliest and most influential of its type in the world. 

“I’m delighted to see Stevenage Museum celebrating its importance as the first post-war new town, in this new exhibition supported by our Everyday Heritage grants.

"The newly-discovered images will give people a fascinating insight into Stevenage life.”

The exhibition has something for everyone, including a play café for children and a chance to see never-before-seen colour images, including the first of the Queen’s visits to Stevenage in 1959, for the adults to enjoy.


Councillor Loraine Rossati, portfolio holder for culture and leisure, said: “We’ve got some great colour shots, including the first colour image we’ve seen of the Queen’s visit to the town in 1959, alongside the visit from the Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan, later in the same year and other shots of the town centre we’ve never seen before.”

The Comet: The Queen unveils the clock tower plaque commemorating her visit in April 1959The Queen unveils the clock tower plaque commemorating her visit in April 1959 (Image: Stevenage Museum)

There is an opportunity to add your own memories of Stevenage to the exhibition, by filling in a postcard and adding it to the memory wall.

Stevenage Museum’s exhibition is on show until September 30, with the museum open from 10am to 4.30pm Wednesday to Friday and 10am to 5pm Saturdays.