Glimpse history through old images of Luton, in Bedfordshire, England.
Old Photos of Luton
Luton Road Safety: 1952
When this newsreel was made in 1952, fifteen people a day were dying on Britain’s roads.
It was 17 years after the driving test was introduced for new drivers, but not retrospectively applied to old drivers, and safety measures for vehicles and equipment was still rudimentary or non existant.
In this short newsreel, we see some of Luton’s local streets and businesses.
A police officer checks the bicycles stored in the bike shed at Stopsley secondary school. It’s surprising how many bikes are there, making it look more like a railway station in the Netherlands than anything you’d see in British schools today.
Luton Road Safety (1952) – British Pathé on YouTube
Luton’s Road Safety: 1953
A local initiative in the 1950s was to keep accident rates down by getting a traffic bobby to have a polite quiet word where wrong doing was spotted. Inspector Thomson, the Road Safety Organiser, was filmed going about his work.
This short and entertaining newsreel includes many homes and businesses in the background. Lots of local people also stand about looking at the camera, clearly amused by the goings on.
Luton Road Courtesy (1953) – British Pathé on YouTube
Luton Town Centre: 1991
Ignore the 1980s reference on the title of this video, it’s actually 1991. We know this because there’s a banner high above the road advertising the Luton Musical Pageant on Saturday, May 6th, 1991.
It’s a great piece of footage, showing many different views around the Town Hall, high street, and Luton Arndale Centre, along with some shots looking across the rooftops.
You can see the people, cars, and businesses, while getting an impression about what it was like to be there then.
1980s Luton | Luton Town Hall | Clock Tower | High Street | Arndale Centre | TN-SL-075-019 – Thames News on YouTube
An Overview of Luton History
Ancient history of Luton
Luton was a small market town that has undergone significant industrial development.
The first inhabitants arrived 250, 000 years ago, followed by Neolithic men from France and Germany.
The Romans, Anglo-Saxons, and Normans all played a role in shaping Luton’s history.
Luton’s economic transformation
The hat industry brought prosperity to Luton, making it famous for straw hats.
The arrival of the railway facilitated the expansion of the hat industry and trade.
New businesses, such as Vauxhalls and Skefco’s ball bearing company, further contributed to Luton’s economic growth.
Wardown and leisure activities
Wardown, originally a farmhouse, became a popular park with a suspension bridge and lakes.
The Monkey Parade tradition involved walking in one’s best clothes at Wardown.
Notable figures, such as Joseph Conrad, have had connections to Wardown.
Luton’s landmarks and architecture
The Moat House and the parish church are Nootable historical buildings in Luton.
Luton’s architecture features a mix of Norman, Perpendicular, and Georgian styles.
The town’s growth led to the development of elegant houses and churches.
Impact of the Great War
Luton’s mansion was transformed into a hospital during the Great War.
The war had a significant impact on the lives of young men from Luton. The war ended on November 11, 1918, bringing a period of peace.
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