Disappointment over appeal to churches

Luton Mayor Councillor W. J. Primett said he was rather disappointed that there were only one or two replies to an appeal to churches asking what steps they had taken to offer facilities to a new batch of hundreds of soldiers who were being quartered in Luton.

Mayor Walter Primett

The Mayor, pictured left, was a member of a Soldiers Welfare Committee formed to co-ordinate efforts to inform troops of arrangements made available on their behalf by churches and other institutions. There had been a lack of publicity previously about what facilities were available and where.


With the exodus of the North Midland Division there had not been the same need for centres of recreation, but now hundreds of soldiers had come to Luton again, creating similar needs to those in August. Then, schoolrooms, institutes and church halls were thrown open to provide games, facilities for writing and other comforts for the soldiers, filling a great need and assisting the work of the YMCA and Church Army.

"Last time when we had such a lot of troops here the denominations organised on an elaborate scale and got up concerts. Because there was no effective way of making these known to the troops they were not nearly so successful as they might have been.

"We do not propose to interfere with the different organisations in any way. We only come in as a medium between them and the troops. The arrangements at the individual places will, by the kindness of the General Commanding, be inserted in the orders to the troops each week. If the committee can render any assistance to the denominations in any other way we shall be delighted."

In response to the Mayor's request the Luton Adult Schools Social Club and Institute had written to say they had a large room at the Church Street schoolroom open every evening from six to ten, and there were billiards and other games, writing facilities and refreshments provided at a moderate charge.

Mr Frederick Thurston, of Hastings Street, wrote that the Union Chapel offered billiards and other games, together with free writing materials and magazines and newspapers. A refreshment room had also been organised. They had about 1,200 soldiers visiting the rooms each week.

The Salvation Army had announced it had opened a soldiers' room in Park Street, and local doctor Ethel Vaudrey offering her surgery waiting room after 8 pm any night to "three or four quiet young soldiers who would care to read or write".

[Beds & Herts Saturday Telegraph, February 6th, 1915]