Diary: Call to control food prices

Stories from The Luton News, Thursday, February 4th, 1915.

Luton Trades Council, protesting against high price rises for food and other essentials, called on the Government to introduce powers to control inflated prices.

At a meeting in the Co-operative Hall in Hastings Street on February 2nd, the trade unionists passed a resolution of protest against "the unjustifiably high prices to which necessaries of life have been raised, and regrets that the Government had not anticipated the exploitation of the poor and provided for the dislocation of overseas supplies, the congestion of ports of entry and the inefficiency of internal transport arrangements. It (the Trades Council) demands that the Government acquire immediate powers to arrest and reduce the inflated prices now being charged for all commodities, and by doing so to prevent the suffering and physical deterioration which must inevitably follow upon the continuance of the present situation."

Mr Willet Ball, who moved the adoption of the resolution, said the present increases were the result of commercial greed. There was plenty of food, but it was cornered and sold at impossible prices. The workers could teach the monopolists a lesson which they would always regret.

  • Pte Thomas Richards, writing from the front to his wife at 178 Park Street, Luton, told of his narrow escape when five "Jack Johnsons" burst near him in a trench. "My mess tin, which I was holding, had a hole knocked right through it. It was a near thing, but all is well up to the present," he wrote. Private Richards was killed on the 12th March 1915, shortly after this article was published.

  • Pte William Boon, 3/7361, C Company, 2nd Battalion Beds Regt, had not died of wounds on January 11th, as claimed in a letter to his mother in St Ann's Road from the chaplain of a Clearing Hospital in France. Fellow soldier Pte Thomas George Wood, home on leave at Bailey Street, said he had seen Pte Boon alive on January 28th and there had been a case of mistaken identity.

  • Pte R. Corcoral, No 2 Platoon, A Company, the King's Liverpool Regiment, wrote to Mrs Coupees, Hon Secretary of the Alexandra Day Helpers' Tobacco Fund, thanking her group for the splendid gifts of tobacco sent to the soldiers from Luton.

  • Four new look "life" targets were in use by Luton and District Rifle Club. They represented a German machine gun detachment at 400 yards range, the Kaiser and his headquarters staff at 400 yards, a German aeroplane in flight at 1,000 yards and German soldiers in trenches at 400 yards.

  • Lutonians were told there should be no cause for alarm if street lighting was reduced in the event of an air raid.

  • There was applause at Luton Borough Brewster Sessions yesterday when solicitor Mr H. W. Lathom made an appeal on behalf of licensed victuallers for public houses to be kept open until 10 pm instead of 9.30. Mr Lathom urged the change for economic reasons because of the war and the whole of the licensed trade would uphold the later closing time.

  • The number of houses built in Luton during 1914 was 332, compared with 495 in 1913 and 530 in 1912, Luton Town Council was told on Tuesday. The war had had a considerable effect on the building trade, but this was not the only cause of the drop.

  • Plans were passed by Luton Town Council on Tuesday for extensions to the works of Messrs George Kent Ltd in Biscot Road.

  • A £20 offer was to be made for 16 square yards of land at the corner of Collingdon Street and Dunstable Road to allow for improvement works to relieve a traffic danger spot.

  • Estimated expenditure on Luton's main roads in the year ended March 31st, 1915, was anticipated at £5,038, of which £4,500 was contributed by the county council. The Town Council hoped to have the county contribution raised to £5,000 during the coming year.

  • Notices warning the public of the dangers caused by the throwing of orange peel on the pavement were to be put up. A warning was also to be issued about the dangers of spitting in the streets.

  • Trams on the London Road to Wardown route were now running to time, but Councillor Impey questioned whether a 36-minute service was adequate and reasonable. He said there were still numerous complaints, as people could walk the journey in the time taken to wait for a tram.

  • A fire on Saturday night at 96 Church Street, an old cottage near the Parish Church, had somewhat bizarre consequences. A young Territorial, Pte Walter Smith, 6th Battalion South Staffordshire Regiment, billeted at 113a North Street, rescued occupier Mr Young, who had been badly overcome by smoke. Reaching the front door steps, Pte Smith, himself affected by the smoke, slipped and was kicked in the head as a crowd on onlookers tried to help. A fireman, also named Smith, who went in to search for Mrs Young was reported missing, and while other firemen went to search for him, it was discovered that Fireman Smith had taken Mr Young across the street to see a doctor. Mrs Young, meanwhile, was found in the street.

  • Hire charges would be waived for Luton Volunteer Corps to use the Plait Hall for drilling on five evenings a week subject to it not being required for other purposes, Luton Town Council decided on Tuesday. They would, however, be expected to pay for metered gas used and to pay two shillings per night to cover cleaning etc.

  • The directors of the Luton Permanent Benefit Building Society reported at the 48th annual meeting held at the Town Hall on Thursday that the past year had produced a large influx of new members and the stability of the society was greater than ever. The amount advanced on mortgage during the year was £1,800, bringing the total advance since the society was established in December 1866 to £146,143.

  • London criminals were believed to be responsible for a series of housebreakings, and the public were urged to be on the alert. Homes in Avondale Road, Portland Road and Dallow Road had been targeted. In one case a child's money box containing a few pence was among items stolen, and at Portland Road the offender was spotted escaping across the railway lines at the back of the house.

  • A member of the 4th Leicesters was sentenced to a month in prison with hard labour for stealing three pairs of stockings worth 1s 8½d from a Manchester Street shop. The court was told the prisoner had previously been convicted with three others of stealing a barrel of beer at Bishops Stortford, and his discharge from the Army was being applied for.