Luton

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Luton
Luton Town Hall
Official logo of Luton
Coat of arms of Luton Borough Council
Luton shown within Bedfordshire
Luton shown within Bedfordshire
Coordinates: 51°52′47″N 0°25′03″W / 51.87972°N 0.41750°W / 51.87972; -0.41750
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Constituent country England
Region East of England
Ceremonial county Bedfordshire
Borough Luton
Government
 • Type Borough
 • Governing body Luton Borough Council
 • Executive: Labour
 • Mayor Cllr Naseem Ayub[1]
 • MPs Kelvin Hopkins (L)
Gavin Shuker (L)
Area
 • Total 16.74 sq mi (43.35 km2)
Population
 • Total 214,700
 • Density 12,820/sq mi (4,951/km2)
 • Ethnicity
54.6% White
29.9% Asian
9.8% Black
4.2% Mixed Race
1.5% Other[3]
Time zone GMT
 • Summer (DST) British Summer Time
Postcode Area
Area code(s) (01582)
ONS code 00KA
Demonym Lutonians
Airport code LTN
Website www.luton.gov.uk

Luton (/ˈltən/ (About this soundlisten) LOOT-ən)[5] is a large town, borough and unitary authority area of Bedfordshire, England.[6][7] The town is situated on the River Lea in the south east of the island of Great Britain. It is located about 30 miles (50 km) northwest of London. Earliest settlements in the Luton area can be traced back over 250,000 years, but the town’s foundation dates to the sixth century as a Saxon outpost on the River Lea, from which Luton derives its name.

Luton was for many years famous for hat-making, and also had a large Vauxhall Motors factory. Car production at the plant began in 1905 and continued until 2002. Production of commercial vehicles continues, and the head office of Vauxhall Motors is still in the town.

Today Luton is notable for London Luton Airport, opened in 1938, which is one of Britain's major airports. The University of Bedfordshire is also based in the town. Luton is home to Luton Town Football Club, whose history includes several spells in the top flight of the English league as well as a Football League Cup triumph in 1988. They play at Kenilworth Road, their home since 1905. Luton Carnival held the day before the last Monday in May, a public holiday, is the largest one-day carnival in Europe.[8][n 1] Luton Hoo is an English country house and estate and grade I listing building.

Etymology

The origins of the word Luton trace back to the 6th century when the Saxons conquered Bedfordshire. They created a farm or settlement called a "tun" by the River Lea. Lea may be a Celtic word meaning bright river. Hence Lea-Tun or Luton meaning a settlement by the bright river.

History

Prehistory

The earliest settlements in the Luton area were at Round Green and Mixes Hill, where Paleolithic encampments (about 250,000 years old) have been found.[9]

Settlements re-appeared after the ice had retreated in the Mesolithic period around 8000 BC. Traces of these settlements have been found[by whom?] in the Leagrave area of the modern town.

Remains from the Neolithic period (4500–2500 BC in this area) are much more common. A particular concentration of Neolithic burials occurs at Galley Hill.[10] The most prominent Neolithic structure is Waulud's Bank – a henge dating from around 3000 BC. From the Neolithic onwards, the area seems to have been populated, but without any single large settlement.

Middle Ages (500 - 1500)

Luton itself is believed to have been founded by the Anglo-Saxons sometime in the 6th century,[11] and named for its situation on the River Lea.[12]

After the establishment of the Danelaw in the east of England and the unification of the remaining English kingdoms in the west, Luton stood on the border between Christendom and Heathenism which ran up the River Lea from London through to Bedford.[13] The Anglo Saxon Chronicle for the year 913 mentions Luton because locals fought off a Viking raiding band: "In this year the [Danish] army from Northampton and Leicester rode out after Easter [28th March] and broke the peace, and killed many men at Hook Norton [Oxfordshire] and round about there. And then very soon after that, as the one force came home, they met another raiding band which rode out against Luton. And then the people of the district became aware of it and fought against them and reduced them to full flight and rescued all that they had captured and also a great part of their horses and their weapons".[13]

Archaeological finds for this genesis of Lutonian history include 50 burials, 8 cremations, 16 spears, 22 knives (seax), a sword, 8 shield bosses, a pair of iron shears, a single bone comb, countless examples of brooches, pendants and other jewellery of bronze and amber and shards of pottery.[14]

The Domesday Book records Luton as Loitone and also as Lintone.[15] Agriculture dominated the local economy at that time, and the town's population was around 700 to 800.[16] But this number could[original research?] represent a recently reduced population as a direct result of the Norman Invasion and the English resistance that followed. The Domesday Book records the value of King William's English possessions 20 years after his victory at Hastings, during which period, as the book would suggest, much destruction and death took place. Besides Luton, Biscot and Caddington also have entries in the Domesday Book for the surrounding area and in both these cases the value of the lands are much lower than their pre-invasion state, indicating a loss of households, livestock and crops.[17][18]


St Mary's Church, Luton town centre
The Wenlock chapel within St Mary's

In 1121 Robert, 1st Earl of Gloucester started work on St Mary's Church in the centre of the town. The work was completed by 1137.[19] A motte-and-bailey castle which gives its name to the modern Castle Street was built in 1139. The castle was demolished in 1154[20] and the site is now occupied by a Matalan store. During the Middle Ages Luton is recorded[by whom?] as having six watermills. Mill Street, in the town centre, takes its name from one of them.

King John (1166–1216) had hired a mercenary soldier, Falkes de Breauté, to act on his behalf. (Breauté is a small town near Le Havre in France.) When he married, Falkes de Breauté acquired his wife's house which came to be known as "Fawkes Hall", subsequently corrupted over the years to "Foxhall", then to "Vauxhall". In return for his services, King John granted Falkes the manor of Luton, where he built a castle alongside St Mary's Church. He was also granted the right to bear his own coat of arms and chose the mythical griffin as his heraldic emblem. The griffin thus became associated with both Vauxhall and Luton in the early 13th century.[21]

By 1240 the town is recorded as "Leueton". One "Simon of Luton" was Abbot of Bury St Edmunds from 1257 to 1279. The town had a market for surrounding villages in August each year, and with the growth of the town a second fair was granted each October from 1338.

In 1336 a large fire destroyed much of Luton; however, the town was soon rebuilt.

The agriculture base of the town changed in the 16th century with a brick-making industry developing around Luton; many of the older wooden houses were rebuilt in brick.

Early Modern period (1500–1750)

During the English Civil War of the 17th century, in 1645, royalists entered the town and demanded money and goods. Parliamentary forces arrived and during the fighting four royalist soldiers were killed and a further twenty-two were captured. A second skirmish occurred three years later in 1648 when a royalist army passed through Luton. A number of royalists were attacked by parliamentary soldiers at an inn on the corner of the current Bridge Street. Most of the royalists escaped but nine were killed.

The hat making industry began in the 17th century and became synonymous with the town.[22][not in citation given] By the 18th century the industry dominated the town.[citation needed] Hats are still produced in the town but on a much smaller scale. The first Luton Workhouse was constructed in the town in 1722.[23]

Mid-Modern period (1750–1914)

Luton Hoo, a nearby large country house, was built in 1767 and substantially rebuilt after a fire in 1843. It is now a luxury hotel.[24]

A map of Luton from 1888

The town grew strongly in the 19th century. In 1801 the population was 3,095.[25] By 1850 it was over 10,000 and by 1901 it was almost 39,000. Such rapid growth demanded a railway connection but the town had to wait a long time for one. The London and Birmingham Railway (L&BR) had been built through Tring in 1838, and the Great Northern Railway was built through Hitchin in 1852, both bypassing Luton, the largest town in the area. A branch line connecting with the L&BR at Leighton Buzzard was proposed, but because of objections to release of land, construction terminated at Dunstable in 1848. It was another ten years before the branch was extended to Bute Street Station, and the first train to Dunstable ran on 3 May 1858.[26] The line was later extended to Welwyn and from 1860 direct trains to King's Cross ran. The Midland Railway was extended from Bedford to St Pancras through Leagrave and Midland Road station and opened on 9 September 1867.[27]

Luton received a gas supply in 1834. Gas street lights were erected and the first town hall was opened in 1847.[28]

Following a cholera epidemic in 1848 Luton established a water company and had a complete water and sewerage system by the late 1860s.

Newspaper printing arrived in the town in 1854. The first public cemetery was opened in the same year.

The first covered market was built (the Plait Halls – now demolished) in 1869.

Luton was made a borough in 1876.[29]

A professional football club – the first in the South of England – was founded in 1885 following a resolution at the town hall that a 'Luton Town Club be formed'.[30] The club's crest also includes a hand holding a bunch of wheat, either taken as a symbol of the straw-plaiting industry, or from the arms of John Whethamsteade, Abbott of St Albans, who rebuilt the chancel of St Mary's Church in the 15th century.

Contemporary period (1914–present)

Luton's hat trade reached its peak in the 1930s,[31] but severely declined after the Second World War and was replaced by other industries.

In 1907, Vauxhall Motors opened the largest car plant in the United Kingdom in Luton.

In 1914 Hewlett & Blondeau aviation entrepreneurs built a factory in Leagrave which began aircraft production built under licence for the war effort; the site was purchased in 1920 by new proprietors Electrolux domestic appliances, and this was followed by other light engineering businesses.

In 1901 the Bailey Water Tower was built[32] on the edge of what was to become Luton Hoo memorial park. It is now a private residence.

In 1904 councillors Asher Hucklesby and Edwin Oakley purchased the estate at Wardown Park and donated it to the people of Luton. Hucklesby went on to become Mayor of Luton. The main house in the park became Wardown Park Museum.

The town had a tram system from 1908 until 1932, and the first cinema was opened in 1909.

By 1914 the population had reached 50,000.

The original town hall was destroyed in 1919 during Peace Day celebrations at the end of the First World War. Local people, including many ex-servicemen, were unhappy with unemployment and had been refused the use of a local park to hold celebratory events. They stormed the town hall, setting it alight (see Luton Town Hall). A replacement building was completed in 1936.

Luton Airport opened in 1938, owned and operated by the council.

The first town hall was destroyed in 1919

The pre-war years, even at the turn of the 1930s when a Great Depression saw unemployment reach record levels nationally, were something of an economic boom for Luton, as new industries grew and prospered. New private and council housing was built in the 1920s and 1930s, with Luton growing as a town to incorporate nearby villages Leagrave, Limbury and Stopsley between 1928 and 1933.[33]

In the Second World War, the Vauxhall Factory built Churchill tanks[34] as part of the war effort. Despite heavy camouflage, the factory made Luton a target for the Luftwaffe and the town suffered a number of air raids. 107 died[35] and there was extensive damage to the town (over 1,500 homes were damaged or destroyed). Other industry in the town, such as SKF, which produced ball bearings, made a vital contribution to the war effort. Although a bomb landed at the SKF Factory,[36] no major damage was caused. Post-war, the slum clearance continued, and a number of substantial estates of council housing were built, notably at Farley Hill, Stopsley, Limbury, Marsh Farm and Leagrave (Hockwell Ring).

The M1 motorway passed just to the west of the town, opening in 1959 and giving it a direct motorway link with London and – eventually – the Midlands and the North.

In 1962 a new library (to replace the cramped Carnegie Library) was opened by the Queen in the corner of St George's Square.

In the late 1960s a large part of the town centre was cleared to build a large covered shopping centre, the Arndale Centre, which was opened in 1972.[37] It was refurbished and given a glass roof in the 1990s.

The town centre still has some of the old hat factories

In 2000, Vauxhall announced the end of car production in Luton; the plant closed in March 2002.[38] At its peak it had employed in excess of 30,000 people. Vauxhall's headquarters remain in the town, as does its van and light commercial vehicle factory.

A major regeneration programme for the town centre is under way, which will include upgrades to the town's bus and railway stations as well as improvements to the town's urban environment. St George's Square has been rebuilt[39] and reopened in 2007. The new design won a Gold Standard Award for the Town Centre Environment from the annual British Council of Shopping Centres awards.[40]

Work was completed on an extension to the Mall Shopping Centre facing St George's Square, the largest of the new units to was taken by TK Maxx. Planning applications for a much larger extension to the Mall Arndale Shopping Centre (In the Northern Gateway area – Bute Street, Silver Street and Guildford Street) and also for a new centre in Power Court[41] (close to St Mary's Church) have been submitted.

On the edge of Luton at Putteridge Bury a high-technology office park, Butterfield Green, is under construction. The former Vauxhall site is also to be re-developed as a mixed use site called Napier Park.[42] It will feature housing, retail and entertainment use, including a new casino.

Governance

Logo of Luton Borough Council

The town is situated within the historic county of Bedfordshire, but since 1997 Luton has been an administratively independent unitary authority. The town remains part of Bedfordshire for ceremonial purposes.

Luton Borough Council applied for city status at the Millennium in 2000, Golden Jubilee of Elizabeth II in 2002 and Diamond Jubilee in 2012.[43] The latest bid was rejected in March 2012.[44]

Parliamentary representation

Luton is represented by two Members of Parliament. The constituency of Luton North has been held by Kelvin Hopkins (Labour) since 1997. Luton South has been held by Gavin Shuker (Labour) since 2010. Luton is within the East of England European Parliament constituency.

Wards

The electoral wards in Luton are:

  1. Barnfield
  2. Biscot
  3. Bramingham
  4. Challney
  5. Crawley
  6. Dallow
  7. Farley Hill
  8. High Town
  9. Icknield
  10. Leagrave
Lutonwardmap.jpg
  1. Lewsey
  2. Limbury
  3. Northwell
  4. Round Green
  5. Saints
  6. South ward
  7. Stopsley
  8. Sundon Park
  9. Wigmore

Police and crime commissioner

Luton is served by the Bedfordshire police. The Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner is Kathryn Holloway.

Local council

Lutonians are governed by Luton Borough Council. The town is split into 19 wards, represented by 48 councillors. Elections are held for all seats every four years, with the most recent local elections held in May 2011 and the next due in May 2015. The Council is controlled by the Labour group, who have 36 Local Councillors (a majority of 24). The next largest party is the Liberal Democrats with 8 seats, followed by the Conservative Party with 4 seats.[45]

Position Current representatives
Members of Parliament
Kelvin Hopkins, Labour, elected 1997 · Gavin Shuker, Labour, elected 2010

Council coat of arms

Luton Borough Council coat of arms: granted 25 July 1876

In 1876 the town council was granted its own coat of arms. The wheatsheaf was used on the crest to represent agriculture and the supply of straw used in the local hatting industry (the straw-plaiting industry was brought to Luton by a group of Scots under the protection of Sir John Napier of Luton Hoo). The bee is traditionally the emblem of industry and the hive represents the straw-plaiting industry for which Luton was famous. The rose is from the arms of the Napier family, whereas the thistle is a symbol for Scotland. An alternative suggestion is that the rose was a national emblem, and the thistle represents the Marquess of Bute, who formerly owned the Manor of Luton Hoo.[46][47]

Geography

A pedestrian suspension bridge spans the River Lea in Wardown Park.

Luton is located in a break in the eastern part of the Chiltern Hills. The Chilterns are a mixture of chalk from the Cretaceous period[48] (about 66 – 145 million years ago) and deposits laid at the southernmost points of the ice sheet during the last ice age (the Warden Hill area can be seen from much of the town).

Bedfordshire had a reputation for brick making but the industry is now significantly reduced. The brickworks[49] at Stopsley took advantage of the clay deposits in the east of the town.

The source of the River Lea, part of the Thames Valley drainage basin, is in the Leagrave area of the town. The Great Bramingham Wood surrounds this area. It is classified as ancient woodland; records mention the wood at least 400 years ago.

There are few routes through the hilly area for some miles, this has led to several major roads (including the M1 and the A6) and a major rail-link being constructed through the town.

Areas

The Victorian expansion of Luton focused on areas close to the existing town centre and railways. In the 1920s and 1930s growth typically was through absorbing neighbouring villages and hamlets (an example being Leagrave) and infill construction between them and Luton. After the Second World War there were several estates and developments constructed both by the local council such as Farley Hill or Marsh Farm, or privately such as Bushmead.

Climate

Luton has a temperate marine climate, like much of the British Isles, with generally light precipitation throughout the year. The weather is very changeable from day to day and the warming influence of the Gulf Stream makes the region mild for its latitude. The average total annual rainfall is 698 mm (27.5 in) with rain falling on 117 days of the year.

Snow accumulation over the Chiltern hills during October 2008 snowfall, Luton is denoted by the yellow dot.

The local climate around Luton is differentiated somewhat from much of South East England due to its position in the Chiltern Hills, meaning it tends to be 1–2 degrees Celsius cooler than the surrounding towns – often flights at Luton airport, lying 160 m (525 ft) above sea level, will be suspended when marginal snow events occur, while airports at lower elevations, such as Heathrow, at 25 m (82 ft) above sea level, continue to function. An example of this is shown in the photograph to the right, the snowline being about 100 m (328 ft) above sea level. Absolute temperature extremes recorded at Rothamsted Research Station, 5 miles (8 km) south south east of Luton town centre and at a similar elevation range from −17.0 °C (1.4 °F)[50] in December 1981 and −16.7 °C (1.9 °F) in January 1963[51] to 36.0 °C (96.8 °F) in August 2003[52] and 33.8 °C (92.8 °F) in August 1990[53] and July 2006.[54] Records for Rothamsted date back to 1901.

Climate data for Rothamsted 1971–2000 (Weather station 5 miles (8 km) to the south of Luton)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 6.3
(43.3)
6.7
(44.1)
9.5
(49.1)
11.9
(53.4)
15.7
(60.3)
18.6
(65.5)
21.4
(70.5)
21.4
(70.5)
18.0
(64.4)
13.8
(56.8)
9.4
(48.9)
7.2
(45)
13.4
(56.1)
Average low °C (°F) 0.9
(33.6)
0.7
(33.3)
2.3
(36.1)
3.6
(38.5)
6.3
(43.3)
9.2
(48.6)
11.4
(52.5)
11.4
(52.5)
9.5
(49.1)
6.7
(44.1)
3.3
(37.9)
1.9
(35.4)
5.6
(42.1)
Average precipitation mm (inches) 69.5
(2.736)
47.3
(1.862)
54.0
(2.126)
53.1
(2.091)
49.8
(1.961)
60.4
(2.378)
41.2
(1.622)
53.6
(2.11)
60.9
(2.398)
74.4
(2.929)
66.0
(2.598)
67.6
(2.661)
697.8
(27.472)
Mean monthly sunshine hours 55.2 70.6 107.3 146.7 194.7 190.2 203.4 196.5 142.2 112.2 70.2 48.1 1,537.2
Source: Met Office[55]

Demography

Racial structure, according to the 2011 census

  White (54.6%)
  Asian (30.0%)
  Black (9.8%)
  Mixed (4.1%)
  Other (1.5%)

The United Kingdom Census 2011 showed that the borough had a population of 203,201,[56] a 10.2% increase from the previous census in 2001, when Luton was the 27th[57] largest settlement in the United Kingdom. In 2011, 46,756 were aged under 16, 145,208 were 16 to 74, and 11,237 were 75 or over.[58] The latest population figure for the borough is 214,700 (mid-2017 est.).[6]

Population since 1801 – Source: A Vision of Britain through Time[59]
Year 1801 1851 1901 1911 1921 1931 1941 1951 1961 1971 1981 1991 2001 2011
Population Luton 2,985 11,067 31,981 49,315 57,378 66,762 84,516 106,999 132,017 162,928 163,208 174,567 184,390 203,201

Local inhabitants are known as Lutonians.

Ethnicity

Luton has seen several waves of immigration. In the early part of the 20th century, there was internal migration of Irish and Scottish people to the town. These were followed by Afro-Caribbean and Asian immigrants. More recently immigrants from other European Union countries have made Luton their home. As a result of this Luton has a diverse ethnic mix, with a significant population of Asian descent, mainly Pakistani 29,353 (14.4%) and Bangladeshi 13,606 (6.7%).[60]

Since the 2011 census, Luton has become one of three white British-minority towns in the United Kingdom. It was announced in a report based on the census figures that along with Leicester and Slough, Luton was one of three towns outside London where the indigenous population was now a minority, making up only 45% of Luton's population. However, the town still has a white majority when non-British whites such as the Irish and Eastern Europeans are included.[60] Of note, 81% of the population of Luton still define themselves as British, despite the majority of its residents being from a foreign ethnic background.[61]

Luton: Ethnicity: 2011 Census[60]
Ethnic group Population %
White 111,079 54.6
Mixed 8,281 4.1
Asian or Asian British 60,952 30.0
Black or Black British 19,909 9.8
Other Ethnic Group 2,980 1.5
Total 203,201 100

Religion

Religion in Luton (2011 census)

  Christianity (46.4%)
  Islam (25.6%)
  Hinduism (3.3%)
  Sikhism (1.1%)
  Other religions (0.7%)
  Not stated (7.2%)
  No religion (16.5%)
Religion Population %
Christian 96,271 46.4
Muslim 51,992 25.6
Hindu 6,749 1.0
Sikh 2,347 1.0
Buddhist 652 0.3
Jewish 326 0.2
Other 898 0.4
No religion 33,594 16.5
Religion not stated 12,373 6.1

Economy

Griffin House, headquarters of Vauxhall Motors
Hangar 89, EasyJet headquarters

Luton's economy has, traditionally been focused on several different areas of industry including Car Manufacture, engineering and millinery. However, today, Luton is moving towards a service based economy mainly in the retail and the airport sectors, although there is still a focus on light industry in the town.

Notable firms with headquarters in Luton include:

Notable firms with offices in Luton include:

Employment

Of the town's working population (classified 16–74 years of age by the Office for National Statistics), 63% are employed. This figure includes students, the self-employed and those who are in part-time employment. 11% are retired, 8% look after the family or take care of the home and 5% are unemployed.[73]

Principal employers

According to the Luton Borough Council,[74] the principal employers in the town are:

# Employer # of Employees
1 Luton Borough Council 8,000+
2 Luton and Dunstable University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust 4,000+
3 Aircraft Service International Group 1,000–1,999
3 Carlisle Security Services 1,000–1,999
5 EasyJet 1,000–1,999
6 Menzies Aviation 1,000–1,999
7 Randstad 1,000–1,999
8 TUI 1,000–1,999
9 University of Bedfordshire 1,000–1,999

Transport

Luton is situated less than 30 miles north of the centre of London, giving it good links with the City and other parts of the country via the motorway network. Luton has two railway stations: Luton and Luton Airport Parkway that are served by East Midlands Trains and Thameslink services. Luton is also home to London Luton Airport, one of the major feeder airports for London and the southeast. A network of bus services run by Arriva Shires & Essex, Grant Palmer Passenger Services and Centrebus serves the urban area of Luton and Dunstable, and in 2013 a bus rapid transit route opened, the Luton to Dunstable Busway, connecting the town with the Airport, Dunstable and Houghton Regis.

Luton is also served by a large taxi network. As a Unitary Authority, Luton Borough Council is responsible for the local highways and public transport in the Borough and licensing of Taxis.

Education

University of Bedfordshire – Luton

Luton is one of the main locations of the University of Bedfordshire. A large campus of the university is in Luton town centre, with a smaller campus based on the edge of town in Putteridge Bury, an old Victorian manor house. The other main campus of the university is located in Bedford.

The town is home to Luton Sixth Form College and Barnfield College. Both have been awarded Learning & Skills Beacon Status by the Department for Children, Schools and Families.[75][76]

Luton's schools and colleges had also been earmarked for major investment in the government scheme Building Schools for the Future programme, which intends to renew and refit buildings in institutes across the country. Luton is in the 3rd wave of this long term programme with work intending to start in 2009.[77] Some schools were rebuilt before the programme was scrapped by the coalition government.

There are 98 educational institutes in Luton – seven nurseries, 56 primary schools (9 voluntary-aided, 2 Special Requirements), 13 secondary schools (1 voluntary-aided, 1 Special Requirements), four further educational institutes and four other educational institutes.[78]

Architecture

The town contains 92 listed buildings.[79]

Culture

Leisure and entertainment

Luton International Carnival

Luton International Carnival is the largest one-day carnival in Europe. It usually takes place on the late May Bank Holiday. Crowds can reach 150,000[80] on each occasion.

The procession starts at Wardown Park and makes its way down New Bedford Road, around the town centre via St George's Square, back down New Bedford Road and finishes back at Wardown Park. There are music stages and stalls around the town centre and at Wardown Park.

Luton is home to the UK Centre for Carnival Arts (UKCCA), the country's first purpose-built facility of its kind.[81]

Due to budget cuts, the most recent carnival was run on a significantly smaller scale, with approximately one third of the typical attendance – most of the attendees were residents of the Luton area.[82]

Luton St. Patrick's Festival

The festival celebrating the patron saint of Ireland and organised by Luton Irish Forum, St Patrick, is held on the weekend nearest to 17 March.[83] In its 15th year in 2014,[84] the festival includes a parade, market stalls and music stands as well as Irish themed events.[85]

Luton Mela

The first Luton Mela took place in August 2000 and has developed into one of the most significant and well attended south Asian cultural events in the eastern region.

City of Culture Bid and Pilot Year

Luton Council's strategic vision for the Arts, and Cultural and Creative industries includes the plan to bid for City of Culture Status. This plan includes a pilot year with the theme of Peace Riots starting in Spring 2019.[86] Events will be published on the Luton.Events website.

Theatre and performing arts

Luton is home to the Library Theatre, a 238-seat theatre located on the 3rd floor of the town's Central Library. The theatre's programme consists of local amateur dramatic societies, pantomime, children's theatre (on Saturday mornings) and one night shows of touring theatre companies.[87]

Luton is also home to the Hat Factory, originally as its name suggests, this arts centre was in fact a real hat factory. The Hat Factory is a combined arts venue in the centre of Luton. It opened in 2003 and since then has been the area’s main provider of contemporary theatre, dance and music. The venue provides live music, club nights, theatre, dance, films, children's activities, workshops, classes and gallery exhibitions.

Museums and art galleries

Wardown House

Wardown House Museum and Gallery, previously known as Luton Museum and Art Gallery, is housed in a large Victorian mansion in Wardown Park on the outskirts of the town centre. The museum collection focusses on the traditional crafts and industry of Luton and Bedfordshire, notably lace-making and hat-making. There are samples of local lace from as early as the 17th century.

Stockwood Discovery Centre

Based in Stockwood Park, Luton, the collection of rural crafts and trades held at Stockwood Discovery Centre was amassed by Thomas Wyatt Bagshawe, who was a notable local historian and a leading authority on folk life. Bagshawe was born in Dunstable in 1901 and became a director of the family engineering firm.

The collection only contains examples from Bedfordshire and the borders of neighbouring counties, giving the collection a very strong regional identity.

Mossman Collection

Part of the Mossman Collection.

The Mossman Carriage collection is held at Stockwood Park, Luton and is the largest and most significant vehicle collection of its kind in the country, including originals from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries.

The Mossman collection of horse-drawn vehicles was given to Luton Museum Service in 1991. It illustrates the development of horse-drawn road transport in Britain from Roman times up until the 1930s.

Literature, film and television

Radio

Television

  • Television Luton falls at the cross over point between the two regions of Carlton/LWT (ITV London) and Anglia Television (ITV Anglia) which transmits from Norwich. Coverage for most Luton Town FC games and highlights is usually shown on BBC London news and on BBC 1 London's Football League show
  • Days Like These, the British re-make of the popular American sitcom That '70s Show, was set in Luton.

Media references

In the TV series One Foot in the Grave there are often references to places within Luton. The script-writer David Renwick was brought up in the town. The town was mentioned several times in the sketch show Monty Python's Flying Circus. A 1976 episode of the sci-fi series Space: 1999 was called "The Rules of Luton". The comedian Eric Morecambe often made references to Luton Town FC.

Food and drink

Luton has a variety of restaurants, many specialising in cuisine from different parts of the world. There are pubs and clubs in the town centre.

Local attractions

Recreation

Parks and open spaces

Luton has a variety of parks ranging from district park, neighbourhood park, local open space and leisure gardens.

Brantwood Park

In the 1880s, the land now known as Brantwood Park was an open field on the south side of Dallow. The Site was purchased by the Town Council in 1894 for use as a recreation ground and there is reference to it as ‘West Ward Recreation Ground in a 1911 year book. It is reported as being one of the first two recreation grounds in Luton; The other being East Ward Recreation Ground, now known as Manor Road Park.[90]

Kidney Wood

Kidney Wood is ancient semi-natural woodland on the southern edge of Luton that has been identified as a County Wildlife Site. The wood was purchased by Luton Borough Council as an area of public open space. The council seeks to maintain and enhance the nature conservation interest of Kidney Wood, including its habitats while allowing public access for informal recreation including play. Kidney Wood includes a way marked nature trail and play dells.

Memorial Park

Sir Julius Wernher purchased the Luton Hoo Estate and the Manor of Luton from Madame de Falbe around 1903. He carried out substantial renovation works to the Manor and grounds. On his death in 1912 the estate passed to Lady Ludlow. Lady Ludlow presented the Park to the people of Luton on 12 June 1920, in memory of her son Alex Piggott Werner, who was killed in action during the First World War. The site is officially named Luton Hoo Memorial Park. Council records state that the area was purchased under the Statutory Powers of the Public Health Acts.

Stockwood Park

Stockwood Park is a large municipal park near Junction 10 of the M1. Located in the park is Stockwood Discovery Centre a free museum that houses the Mossman Collection and Luton local social history, archaeology and geology. There is an athletics track, an 18-hole golf course, several rugby pitches and areas of open space. The park was originally the estate and grounds to Stockwood house, which was demolished in 1964.

Wardown Park

The Daisy-Chain Wall in Wardown Park.

Wardown Park is situated on the River Lea in Luton. The park has sporting facilities, is home to the Wardown Park Museum and contains formal gardens. The park is located between Old Bedford Road and the A6, New Bedford Road and is within walking distance of the town centre.[91]

Shopping

The Mall Luton, the main shopping destination in Luton.

The main shopping area in Luton is centred on the Mall Luton. Built in the 1960s/1970s and opened as an Arndale Centre, construction of the shopping centre led to the demolition of a number of the older buildings in the town centre including the Plait Halls (a Victorian covered market building with an iron and glass roof). Shops and businesses in the remaining streets, particularly in the roads around Cheapside and in High Town, have been in decline ever since. George Street, on the south side of the Arndale, was pedestrianised in the 1990s.

The shopping centre had some construction and re-design work done to it over the 2011/12 period and now has a new square used for leisure events, as well as numerous new food restaurants such as Toby's Carvery and Costa Coffee.

Contained within the main shopping centre is the market, which contains butchers, fishmongers, fruit and veg, hairdressers, tattoo parlours, ice cream, flower stall, T-shirt printing and the markets original sewing shop for clothes alterations and repairs as well as eating places.

Another major shopping area is Bury Park where there are shops catering to Luton's ethnic minorities.

Sport

Kenilworth Road, home to Luton Town Football Club

Football

Luton is the home town of Luton Town Football Club who currently play in the Football League 1.[92] Their nickname, "The Hatters", dates back to when Luton had a substantial millinery industry.

Cricket

Bedfordshire County Cricket Club is based at Wardown Park and is one of the county clubs which make up the Minor Counties in the English domestic cricket structure, representing the historic county of Bedfordshire and competing in the Minor Counties Championship and the MCCA Knockout Trophy.

Rugby

The town has three rugby union clubs – Stockwood Park Rugby Club who play in Midlands 3 SE, Luton Rugby Club who play in London 1 North, and Vauxhall Motors RFC who do not currently play in the RFU league structure.

Racing

Speedway racing was staged at Luton Stadium from 1934 to 1937.[93]

Twin towns

Luton participates in international town twinning; its partners[94][95] are:

Country Place County / District / Region / State Date
Germany DEU Bergisch Gladbach COA.svg Bergisch Gladbach Coat of arms of North Rhine-Westfalia.svg North Rhine-Westphalia 1956
France Blason Bourgoin Jallieu.svg Bourgoin-Jallieu[95] Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes 1956
Sweden Eskilstuna vapen.svg Eskilstuna Södermanland vapen.svg Södermanland 1949
Germany Coat of arms of borough Spandau.svg Berlin-Spandau Coat of arms of Berlin.svg Berlin 1959
Germany DEU Wolfsburg COA.svg Wolfsburg Coat of arms of Lower Saxony.svg Lower Saxony 1950

Notable people

People who were born in Luton or are associated with the town.

By birth

By association

See also

References and notes

References
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Notes
  1. ^ Like most long-held UK events on this date, before 1972 it was held during the Christian moving feast and discretionary holiday of Whitsuntide (Pentecost) exactly seven weeks after Easter, in this case usually on the Monday

Bibliography

  • Dyer, James; Stygall, Frank; Dony, John (1964). The Story of Luton. Luton: White Crescent Press.

External links

  • Luton travel guide from Wikivoyage
  • Luton Borough Council YouTube channel
  • Luton On Sunday: News feed

Coordinates: 51°52′47″N 0°25′03″W / 51.87972°N 0.41750°W / 51.87972; -0.41750

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