The Hitchin Society was formed in 1962 by local residents increasingly concerned about the loss of fine, historic buildings in Hitchin. They resolved to do all they could to protect Hitchin's heritage from the past, and its distinctive character as a market town.

The Society was established as a strictly non-party political organisation, and was registered with the Civic Trust as the Civic Society for Hitchin. Early campaigns included opposition to what would have been immensely damaging road widening schemes; the demolition of one side of Tilehouse Street was even proposed. In the late 1960s, the Society campaigned vigorously against the plans for the Churchgate shopping precinct, which serves to this day as a reminder of the harm caused by inappropriate development.Over the years, the Society has worked with Councillors and officers of the District Council on a range of initiatives, and has taken every opportunity to argue for good development, environmental improvements and better transport. Planning applications have been scrutinised throughout this time, and objections made against inappropriate or damaging proposals.