The Twentieth Century Society

Campaigning for outstanding buildings

Tom Karen Exhibition and A Little of Letchworth

Tom Karen Exhibition and A Little of Letchworth

Saturday 3rd September 2022. 

Start time/place: 2:00pm/outside Letchworth Railway Station.

Finish time/place: 5:00pm/Museum at One Garden City 200 yards from the Station.

A visit led by Brent Smith to the exhibition of the influential industrial designer Tom Karen, The Spirella Building and the Broadway Cinema in Letchworth. There will be an option to visit the International Garden Cities Exhibition.

We start the tour in the world’s first Garden City founded in 1903 with two of Letchworth’s most interesting buildings and their interiors: the Spirella factory designed by Cecil Hignett in 1912 and completed after WW1 in 1920; and the Art Deco Broadway Cinema by Letchworth architects Bennett & Bidwell which opened in 1936. 

We will then visit the Tom Karen Exhibition at the Museum at One Garden City and Brent Smith and the curator will give a talk. Tom Karen (born Vienna 1926) whilst at Ogle Design Ltd in Letchworth (1962-1999), was responsible for some of the most well-loved and popular designs of the 60s and 70s. There was a remarkable range of products he designed: Reliant Scimitar, Bond Bug, Raleigh Chopper bicycle, Leyland Trucks, Renault vans, “Popemobiles”, buses, aircraft interiors and Crash-Test Dummies – as well qs radios, lawnmowers, pushchairs and, closest to Tom’s heart, children’s toys.

Coffee and biscuits will be followed by an illustrated talk on Tom’s life and work.

There are plenty of opportunities for lunch before the main tour.

There will be an option of visiting the International Garden Cities Exhibition which includes Barry Parker’s office and the Parker and Unwin studio.  Meet Brent Smith there at 12:00 noon (296 Norton Way South Letchworth Garden City SG6 1SU).

Brent Smith is a long-standing member of the C20 Society and retired surveyor.

Members: £15 Non-members: £18

Note:  Train timetable arrangements from London aren’t yet confirmed, and that people need to keep alert.

Not a member yet? Join Here and benefit from event ticket discounts Looking to support our campaigning? Donate to our casework Here.

The Twentieth Century Society is an IHBC (Institute of Historic Building conservation) recognised CPD provider.

The Twentieth Century Society is a registered charity, no 1110244

Above: Tom Karen with Bond Bug outside Ogle  Photograph: colour added by Mark Wearne.

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