Luton in old picture postcards

Luton in old picture postcards

:   F. Hackett
:   Bedfordshire
:   United Kingdom
:   978-90-288-2132-3
:   144
:   EUR 16.95 Incl BTW *

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Fragmenten uit het boek 'Luton in old picture postcards'

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109. To celebrate the declaration of peace, a National Peace Day was declared for the 19th July 1919. In common with most towns, Luton arranged a number of events inc1uding a Peace Day procession with floats made by local firms and organisations. This photograph shows the Skefko Company's float ready to leave Luton Hoo at the start of the procession which was timed to begin at two o'c1ock. Luton's engineering firrns had made important contributions to the war effort by manufacturing armaments.

110. The Davis Gas Stove Company claimed to have made five and a half million hand grenades as well as many other small pieces of equipment and arms. This float, also seen at Luton Hoo, was manned by nursing staff from the children's clinics in the town. The Children's Sick and Convalescent Home, situated in London Road, was, like all the hospitals, entirely supported by voluntary subscriptions.

111. This scene shows the procession held up for a while as it was passing into George Street. The photograph includes the main tableau 'Peace Enthroned', which was built by the Luton Corporation. In front of it are seen the V.A.D. nurses from Wardown Hospital. The procession went on, past the Town Hall, to Wardown Park, where a number of entertainments had been organised, culminating in a firework display on Pope's Meadow.

112. Luton's day of celebration, however, was not the success which was intended. For some time the ex-servicemen had been simmering with discontentment. The photograph on the left of this postcard shows the crowd in front of the Town Hall at three o'clock, when the procession had passed. The Mayor had been threatened and many of the crowd remained to listen to speeches of protest.

113. The main reason for the discontent in the town was that, because of alocal bye-law, they had been refused permission to hold an open-air service of thanksgiving in Wardown Park and the two organisations representing the ex-servicemen refused the offer of Pope's Meadow in favour of Lady Wernher's suggestion that a drum-head service be held at Luton Hoo. The crowd in front of the Town Hall dispersed between six and seven o'clock, However later that night crowds gathered again and shortly befare ten o'clock someone broke a window in the Town Hall and started a fire.

114. The mob was now out of contro1 and was rioting. They prevented the fire engines from reaching the Town Hall and cut the hoses of those which made the attempt. Adjacent shops were broken into in order to obtain missiles to use against the firemen many of whom were injured. Meanwhile the fire was spreading. At its height a piano was looted from a nearby music shop and the crowd was dancing and singing in the street.

115. It was not possible to read the Riot Act and baton charges by the police force, numbering over fifty men, proved ineffective against the mob who were throwing a variety of missiles at them. An ernergency dressing station, which had been hastily set up, treated eighty-four peop1e including forty-three policemen. A police horse was so badly injured that it had to be destroyed. The crowd did not disperse until three o'clock in the morning when a detachment of troops arrived from Biscot Camp.

116. The next day more troops arrived but the Old Town Hall was now completely gutted. Isolated disturbances took place in other parts of the town, but things quietened down and gradually retumed to normality. The drum-head service was held on the following Sunday at Luton Hoo and some twenty thousand people attended with nothing untoward happening.

117. As a re sult of the disturbances, which gained the town some notoriety in the national press, some thirty-nine people were brought to trial before the local magistrates court. Some were fined for looting while others were sent for trial at the Assize Court, where sentences were meted out to nineteen people. The longest prison sentence given was three years, but most receive one year or less.

118. The First World War was to hasten the decline of the hat industry on which the town had formerly almost entirely depended. Prior to the 1870's all the straw plait needed by the trade was supplied by the surrounding villages of south Bedfordshire and north Hertfordshire. Agricultural wages were low and extra money earned by the women folk was often vitally important. Many travellers in the area described scenes such as the one shown here at Barton. Each village came to be associated with a particular type of plait and children were taught in the village plait schools how to make it.

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