During the blizzard weather conditions of January 1881, the village of Harlow was severely effected. The weather caused 8 carts to be completely buried by snow and a pub at Netteswell Cross was left with only the gable of the roof poking out of the snow. In 1987 Britain's weather caused one of the worst hurricanes on record and in Old Harlow, Mrs. Shipton had a remarkable stroke of luck. As a result of a broken foot she made the decision to sleep downstairs in her house. During the night a tree was blown over and landed right in the bedroom where she would normally have slept. She claimed that a 'lucky break' that had allowed her to escape from the wrath of the weather.
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Whilst Harlow is well known as a 'New Town', a result of the frenzy of development that followed World War 2, it has existed as a human settlement since the Bronze Age. It is mentioned in the Domesday Book as the site of St Edmunds Abbey in what is now called Old Harlow. The plans for 'New' Harlow were drawn up in 1947 and included the unification of a number of villages into a larger urban conglomeration. A number of well known architects of the time were invited to take part in the Harlow project and the end result contains several developments that were the first of their kind in the UK and have since been listed for their historic interest. Among them were the first pedestrian shopping precinct and the first modern residential tower block called The Lawn. Harlow also has one of the earliest and, now, extensive cycle path networks in the country. In 1955, less than 8 years after the project began, Harlow was upgraded from being a parish in the Epping Rural District to being its own Urban District.
Harlow is the hometown of 2005 Snooker World Champion, Shaun Murphy. It is also the birthplace of a number of footballers including Darren Ambrose and Luke Young. Comedian and actor Rik Mayall, known for, among others, his roles as Rick in The Young Ones, Lord Flash Heart in Black Adder and Alan B'stard in The New Statesman, was born in Harlow in 1958.