Facts about Hatfield
From the 1930s when de Havilland opened a factory until the 1990s when British Aerospace closed it, aircraft design and manufacture employed more people there than any other industry. Hatfield was one of the post-war New Towns built around London and has much modernist architecture from the period. Hatfield lies 20 miles north of London beside the A1(M) motorway and has direct trains to London King’s Cross railway station, Finsbury Park and Moorgate. There has been a strong increase in commuters who work in London moving into the area.
In the Saxon period Hatfield was known as Hetfelle, but by the year 970, when King Edgar gave 5,000 acres to the monastery of Ely, it had become known as Haethfeld. Hatfield is recorded in the Domesday Book as the property of the Abbey of Ely, and unusually, the original census data which compilers of Domesday used survives, giving us slightly more information than in the final Domesday record.
In 1930 the de Havilland airfield and aircraft factory was opened at Hatfield and by 1949 it had become the largest employer in the town, with almost 4,000 staff. It was taken over by Hawker Siddeley in 1960 and merged into British Aerospace in 1978. In the 1930s it produced a range of small biplanes. During the Second World War, it produced the Mosquito fighter bomber and developed the Vampire, the second British production jet aircraft after the Gloster Meteor.