Luton Town Hall

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Luton Town Hall
Luton Town Hallb.jpg
The current Town Hall, from George Street, Luton
LocationGeorge Street, Luton
Coordinates51°52′48″N 0°25′04″W / 51.8799°N 0.4178°W / 51.8799; -0.4178Coordinates: 51°52′48″N 0°25′04″W / 51.8799°N 0.4178°W / 51.8799; -0.4178
Built1936
ArchitectBradshaw Gass & Hope
Architectural style(s)neoclassical style
Listed Building – Grade II
Designated27 August 1998
Reference no.1376193
Luton Town Hall is located in Bedfordshire
Luton Town Hall
Shown in Bedfordshire

Luton Town Hall is a building at the junction between Manchester Street, Upper George Street and George Street, Luton, England; the current building was completed in 1936 on the site of the older Town Hall, which was burnt down 19 July 1919, following the Peace Day Riots. The current hall is a Grade II listed building.[1]

History[edit]

First town hall[edit]

The old Town Hall in 1897, from George Street, Luton

The original Town Hall was built in the classical style with Doric columns supporting a frieze designed by Luton architects John Williams and Sons in 1846 and was built for a total cost excluding the purchasing of the land for £2,200.[2] In 1856 a small tower and clock was added in commemoration of the Crimean War.[3] It was built by the Town Hall Company to hold public meetings and entertainment in the town and was only brought into public ownership by the Luton Local Board of Health in 1874.[3]

On Peace Day, 19 July 1919, a crowd of ex-servicemen unhappy with unemployment and other grievances assembled.[4] The riot started after members of the council arrived to read out the proclamation of peace[5] and many in the crowd expressed their disapproval. Tension boiled over into violence and a number of protesters broke through the police line and forcibly entered the town hall. Shortly after a number of violent clashes took place, with the town hall being stormed by the crowd and eventually set on fire.[6]

Order was eventually restored to the town by midnight on 19 July, but the fire brigade were unable to extinguish the fire and by the next morning the town hall was little more than ruins. The remains of the building were demolished in August 1919 and the statue "Peace", which was designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield and inscribed with the names of dead servicemen from World War I, was unveiled in 1922.[7][8] Following the destruction of the building the town's administration was carried out from the Carnegie library.[9]

Second town hall[edit]

It was determined the original site offered the best location in the town for a replacement town hall and, in 1930, a competition was held for designs for the new town hall: there were 86 entries to the competition.[1] The competition was won by Bradshaw Gass & Hope from Bolton with a neoclassical style design incorporating Art Deco features.[1] It was built with a steel frame and clad in grey Portland Stone and was officially opened by The Duke of Kent on 28 October 1936.[10] Many of the interior features were designed to recall images from the town's coat of arms, which was carved in stone above the main entrance: the bee, the wheatsheaf, the rose and the thistle.[1] The bell installed was the heaviest in the county, weighing approximately two tonnes.[11]

During World War II, the clock tower was camouflaged to protect it during air raids as the bright white stonework would have been highly visible from the air.[12]

During the 1980s a modern extension was built on Manchester Street to provide additional office space.[13]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Historic England. "Luton Town Hall (1376193)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 10 April 2020.
  2. ^ Davis, Frederick (1855). The History of Luton. J. Wiseman. p. 165.
  3. ^ a b "Luton Town Hall – The Old Building". Bedfordshire Archives. Retrieved 10 April 2020.
  4. ^ "The Luton riots, 1919". Lib.com. Retrieved 10 April 2020.
  5. ^ "This month in history: Peace Day, July 1919". London Gazette. Retrieved 19 July 2020.
  6. ^ Peace Day – 19 July 1919 Archived 11 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine, aftermathww1.com; accessed 19 July 2015.
  7. ^ "Three designs for Luton War Memorial". World War I Luton. Retrieved 10 April 2020.
  8. ^ "War memorial unveiled 14 years before town hall". Dunstable Today. 15 January 2014. Retrieved 10 April 2020.
  9. ^ "Riot 1919: Mayor Impey back in Luton". World War I Luton. Retrieved 10 April 2020.
  10. ^ Rabbitts, Paul (2020). Luton in 50 Buildings. Amberley Publishing. ISBN 978-1445692814.
  11. ^ Discover Bedfordshire article on Luton Town Hall by Robert Farrow Archived 4 July 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ "Bedfordshire Historic Buildings and Monuments" (PDF). Bedfordshire Libraries. Retrieved 10 April 2020.
  13. ^ "'Grave doubts' over Luton Town Hall's £5m makeover". BBC. 3 July 2013. Retrieved 10 April 2020.

Further reading[edit]

  • D. Craddock, (1999) Where They Burnt the Town Hall Down: Luton, the First World War and the Peace Day Riots of July 1919, Book Castle, ISBN 1-871199-86-7
  • J. G. Dony, (1978) The 1919 Peace Riots in Luton, Bedfordshire Historical Record Society, volume 57, 205–233.

External links[edit]