Henry Impey's Mayoral year

Mayor Henry Impey and Frederick Rignall

Henry Impey's year of office was the most traumatic that any Mayor would not want to experience. From a high with the announcement of the signing of the November 1918 armistice after more than four years of war, his term reached a low with riots and the burning down of the Town Hall at the end of peace celebrations in July 1919.

Henry Impey, his health impaired, was smuggled out of Luton following the riots and made only a small number of return visits before resigning from the Town Council at the November 1919 elections. He died in Lincolnshire on April 17th, 1930, and is buried at the General Cemetery, Rothesay Road, Luton.

Below is the start of an evolving calendar (with much more to come) about some of the significant happenings and personalities during Henry Impey's Mayoral year (the links in yellow are to more in-depth related items based on reports in local newspapers):

 

1918

Saturday, November 9: Saturday Telegraph reports the abdication at 4.45pm of the Kaiser in Germany.

Saturday, November 9: Henry Impey invested with the insignia of office of Mayor of Luton in a public ceremony. He had been unanimously elected after previously winning nomination by 11 votes to 10 and one blank paper.

Monday, November 11: Armistice Day. At 11.10am Henry Impey announces to Luton from the Town Hall balcony that Great War hostilities had ceased at 11am.

Tuesday, November 12: Public holiday declared to celebrate the armistice.

Tuesday, November 12: Civic thanksgiving service held at St Mary's Parish Church.

Saturday, November 16: Rev J. L. Barkway inducted to the living of Christ Church by the Bishop of St Albans.

Wednesday, November 20: Mr Willet Ball formally adopted as Labour Parliamentary Candidate for the South Beds Division, including Luton, for the December 14 General Election.

Friday, November 22: Alderman Edwin Oakley resigns as long-term President of the Luton and South Beds Liberal Association in opposition to the Lloyd George Coalition (Lib-Con) Government.

Saturday, November 23: MP Cecil Harmsworth adopted as Liberal-Conservative Coalition Candidate for the South Beds Division for the December 14 General Election.

Saturday, November 23: Victory celebration party for 1,000 guests at George Kent's works at Chaul End.

Thursday, November 28: Souvenir last edition printed of the 'N-T-F' magazine, first published in June 1916 to raise funds to help prisoners of war.

Thursday, November 28: Farewell dance for girls of the Admiralty depot, Bute Street, at the Castle Street Hall.

Saturday, November 30: Vauxhall Motors Fuze Department farewell evening.

Tuesday, December 3: 'N-T-F' magazine acquired by the Luton News and published for the first time as the 'N-T-F & Tuesday Telegraph'.

Saturday, December 7: DS&S Ivy Leaf Club in Park Street officially opened.

Thursday, December 12: 100 Army horses sold at auction at Luton Cattle Market, including 23 to Messrs G. Powdrill & Son.

Saturday, December 14: General Election polling day – the quietest on record in Luton and South Beds, according to The Luton News.

Saturday, December 14: Davis Girls' Club at Davis Gas Stove Co (Diamond Foundry) entertained wounded soldiers from Wardown and Wheathampstead in works mess room.

Monday, December 23: Christmas party given by Luton branch of the Discharged Sailors and Soldiers Association at Winter Assembly Hall for 450 local children left fatherless by the war.

Saturday, December 28: Cecil Harmsworth (Lib-Con Coalition) retains the South Beds seat in General Election.

1919

Wednesday, January 1: Over 1,000 men of the Royal Field Artillery stationed at Biscot Camp entertained at a New Year party in the Princess Victoria YMCA Hut.

Tuesday, January 7: Eminent and controversial Russian violinist Edvard Soermus concert with Bolshevik speeches at the Winter Assembly Hall, sponsored by the Luton branch of the Independent Labour Party.

Thursday, January 9: Order of the British Empire, for services in connection with the war, awarded to Mrs Nora Kathleen Durler, Joint Commandant, Wardown Auxiliary Hospital, Wardown.

Friday, January 10: Tramcars No 1 and No 11 collided head-on in darkness on Beech Hill with two passengers slightly injured. Tram No 11 was badly damaged at the front and underneath.

Saturday, January 11: Victory bonfire and fireworks display, Mr Arthur Panter's Meadow, Stockingstone Lane, Round Green, organised by Young Leaguers Union on behalf of Harpenden Sanitorium for Children (National Children's Home).

Monday, January 13: Mr Charles Mares unanimously re-elected President of Luton Chamber of Commerce at AGM at Franklin's Restaurant, George Street.

Tuesday, January 14: Tuesday Telegraph reports that Biscot windmill is about to lose its sails and be converted to gas power.

Wednesday, January 15: Death of Mr Alfred Thomas Loose, long-serving keeper of Luton Town Hall.

Wednesday, January 15: Annual meeting of local branches of the National Union of Women Workers at Luton Public Library unanimously passed the resolution: “The Luton Branches Nos 1 and 2 of the N.F.W.W. call upon the Government immediately to establish at a national factory a centre for the teaching of straw work, the local industry, to local girls desirous of learning the trade, and to pay them a minimum of 30 shillings per week whilst learning.”

Thursday, January 16: Roof of Messrs Balmforth's factory damaged by fire, presumed to have been caused by sparks from a core-drying stove.

Thursday, January 16: Winding up dance of hockey club formed while Chaul End munition works were in operation.

Saturday, January 18: Memorial to 2nd Lieut Alexander Pigott Wernher, youngest son of Lady Wernher, of Luton Hoo, unveiled at Luton Parish Church.

Saturday, January 18: Mr Albert E. Wray announced his resignation as Luton Tramways Manager.

Tuesday, January 21: Luton Town Council unanimously approved the use of Wardown House as a maternity home, an infants' hospital and home for neglected infants, heralding a blistering Press campaign against the scheme.

Saturday, January 25: Two captured German weapons – a 77mm field gun and a howitzer, towed by lorries - paid a visit to Park Square, Luton, as part of a tour of Bedfordshire. The guns arrived from Dunstable at 11.30am and departed for Hitchin at 2.30pm, but as a result a lack of advance publicity little interest was created.

Saturday, January 25: Mr Fred Mortimer, conductor of the Luton Red Cross Band, released from the Army and returned to Luton to resume his old duties. During his three years in France he became a corporal in the 36th Divisional Band.

Sunday, January 26: Founder Chairman Mr Herbert W. Booth elected first President at the annual meeting of the Luton and District branch of the Discharged Sailors and Soldiers Federation. Pending leaving the area, Mr Booth resigned as Treasurer to be replaced by Mr H. V. Hoy. Chairman Mr Frank Rudd, also leaving Luton, replaced by Vice-Chairman Mr W. B. Clay. Branch membership had reached 750.

Tuesday, January 28: Luton Borough War Prisoners Committee's fund to provide food parcels for POWs wound up following meeting at the Town Hall.

Tuesday, January 28: Snow lying seven to 11 inches deep fell on Luton, with 4ft drifts reported in some villages around the town.

Tuesday, January 28: Death of Mr James Martin, head of J. Martin & Sons, bleachers and dyers, Oxen Road, at his home, Belgrove, Crescent Road, aged 64.

Wednesday, January 29: 'A' Company, 2nd Volunteer Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment, dinner for 140 at Luton Town Hall.

Tuesday, February 4: Winding up of POW committee that had sent life-saving food parcels to local prisoners in Germany.

Monday, February 10: Fifty surplus Army horses sold at Luton Sale Yard, averaging £31 9s each. One mare fetched 75 guineas.

Wednesday, February 12: Dinner for demobilised Special Constables, Winter Assembly Hall.

Thursday: February 13: At one of the largest gatherings of buyers seen in the town, 133 Army horses were sold at Luton Sale Yard, 86 heavy draught horses averaging £60 13s 6d each, one fetching 90 guineas.

Monday, February 17: Around 50 war refugees left Luton on the 8.57am train on the first leg of their repatriation to Belgium. About 120 other Belgians remained in the Luton area.

Tuesday, February 18: Luton Town Council's Peace Celebrations Committee presented its draft plans for eventual Peace Day festivities.

Tuesday, February 18: Demobilised Dr W. Archibald returned to Luton to resume his duties as Medical Officer of Health.

Thursday, February 27: 'C' Company, 2nd Volunteer Brigade, Beds Regiment, dinner for 130 members at Luton Town Hall.

Friday, February 28: Mr George Wistow Walker retired as headmaster of Old Bedford Road Boys' School after serving about 20 years. He was presented with an easy chair from staff and scholars. New headmaster Mr A. Mander later addressed the scholars.

Monday, March 3: 104 Army horses – the largest number to date – sold at market in Luton by Messrs Cumberland & Sons. Prices ranged up to 60 guineas.

Tuesday, March 4: Presentation to Mrs Hilda Hewlett at the Hewlett & Blondeau factory in Leagrave to mark her impending departure for New Zealand.

Tuesday, March 4: Luton Gas Company raised prices by 10d per 1,000 cubic ft, backdated to Christmas. At a meeting of Luton Town Council, Councillor Hawkes said there was a large amount of justifiable discontent in the town over the increase. The rise was put down to the higher cost of coal.

Tuesday, March 4: Messrs J. W. Green, proprietors of the Luton Brewery, bought the old-established Glovers' Brewery, Harpenden, that was put up for auction in London. Included were 14 fully licensed houses, five beerhouses and two off-licences, nearly all being in Luton, Dunstable and surrounding villages. The sale was negotiated privately.

Tuesday, March 4: Labour gained a first Luton seat on Beds County Council in elections in a 15 per cent turnout in Luton. The Party's successful candidate for a seat that attracted fewer than 250 votes was Dr John Birch, with a majority of 110.

Tuesday, March 4: Luton Town Council approved support for a recommendation from the Royal Commission on Decimal Coinage to adopt a decimal coinage system based on the pound.

Tuesday, March 4: Cinema treat for the Telegraph's League of Happy Children at the Gordon Street Picture Theatre postponed due to influenza epidemic.

Wednesday, March 5: 'B' Company, 2nd Volunteer Battalion Beds Regiment, dinner for 100 members at Luton Town Hall.

Thursday, March 6: Inspector Walter James Hagley, senior inspector of the Luton Borough Police Force, retired after more than 31 years service. He had joined the force as a constable on September 30th, 1887.

Thursday, March 6: Handley-Page bomber crashed at Barton. No-one seriously injured.

Saturday: March 8: A meeting of the Luton branch of the DS&S passed a resolution that a massed meeting be held to publicly demand greater representation of discharged men on the War Pensions Committee and other local civic bodies. The meeting also decided to take strong action against its own members involved in “irregular conduct” at the Ivy Leaf Club.

Monday, March 10: Another 100 surplus Army horses sold at Messrs J. Cumberland and Sons' market in Luton, including 78 draught horses, for which the highest price paid was 53 guineas. A further 100 horses were offered for sale on the following Thursday.

Thursday, March 13: The Luton News reported that Lady Wernher's Collecting and Forwarding Depot in Upper George Street had now closed. Since opening on August 31st, 1914, it had supplied more than 12,000 garments etc to men at the Front, including 6,243 articles to men of the Bedfordshire Regiment.

Thursday, March 13: Influenza in Luton was on the wane, according to Councillor W. J. Primett, Chairman of the Health Committee. One of the latest to be affected was the Rev W. E. Lewis, curate of St Matthew's Church.

Thursday, March 13: The Luton News reported that Mr J. H. Brown, a former employee of Commercial Cars Ltd, has just been released from Austria. He was studying labour conditions in Austria when war was declared, and he was interned as a civilian prisoner.

Thursday, March 13: Mr Willet Ball, who unsuccessfully contested the 1918 General Election in Luton and South Beds for Labour, was the new editor of the Railway Gazette, The Luton News reported.

Thursday, March 13: Luton record price of 93 guineas paid for a heavy draught horse in Messrs Cumberland & Sons sale of over 100 surplus Army horses.

Thursday, March 13: A letter writer in The Luton News advocated the use of the upper rooms of Wardown House for use as a museum to record the evolution of hat manufacture and straw braid plaiting. “It is difficult to realise that a town like Luton, with a unique industry, has no record of it,” said the writer.

Friday, March 14: Mr Thomas Keens elected as an alderman of Beds County Council.

Friday, March 14: Plans by the Osram-Robertson Lamp Company Ltd to create a factory employing up to 12,000 in Leagrave Road/Marsh Road revealed.

Saturday, March 15: Fire at Mr George Warren's straw hat factory at the rear of Castle Street. Attic floor and half of the roof of the 60ft x30ft four-storey building severely damaged, and water damage to lower floors. Damage estimated at £3,000 to £4,000.