Luton WW1 diary: July 30th, 1914

Stories from The Luton News - Thursday, July 30th, 1914

“War!” Not a screaming headline in the Luton News, more a whispered aside in the top left hand corner of page 8. Yes, it was reported that Austria had attacked Serbia ("Servia") and food prices in Vienna had rocketed. But British housewives were assured there would be no food shortages, though prices may be increased.March through Houghton

The money markets had got the jitters as Britain, Germany, Russia and France contemplated their next moves, but Luton, as reflected in its newspapers, seemed blissfully unprepared for the impending humanitarian disaster that would become known as the Great War, World War One and “the war to end all wars”.

That would have to wait until next week – Britain's war would not start officially until 11pm on Tuesday – and life went on as normal.

« During festivities to mark the coming of age of Mr Harold Wernher, Lady Wernher announced plans for re-housing her employees by the demolition of all the old cottages on the Luton Hoo estate and the erection of new cottages built on model lines.

« The Midland Railway advertised holiday excursions to Dover (Monday) and Brighton (Tuesday), both setting off shortly after 5.30am. Closer to home, the L&NWR offered third class return tickets to Tring Agricultural Show on Thursday, August 6th, for 2s 2d from Luton, departing 8.30am and calling at Dunstable Church Street, Dunstable (L&NW) and Stanbridgeford.

« Luton Town FC shareholders were told of a successful season financially and on the pitch. Profits were a near record £614-12s-6d, with gate receipts up to £3,158 from £2,118 the previous season.

« Leagrave, Limbury and District Horticultural Society's annual show went ahead as usual with garden produce, sports and an aerial aerobatics display by pilot Mr Marcus Manton, despite winds gusting up to 60 mph.

« A Luton Council report said 12,294 swimmers had used Waller Street Baths in the past month - “a very satisfying figure”.

« A letter from the solicitor for the Post Office indicated that the proposed general post office in Upper George Street was not likely to be completed for another two or three years.

« Luton Bute Hospital reported nine admissions, 11 patients discharged and no deaths. There were still 33 patients there.

« The Board of Guardians provided relief totalling £62-12s to 548 people, compared with 481 receiving a total of £56-17s-6d a year earlier.

« The Schools Athletic Association obtained permission to postpone its annual event until September so that it could be held on the Wardown cricket ground at the end of the cricket season. The Stockwood site used for the school sports for several previous years was deemed “most unsuitable”.

« Luton Town Cricket Club thrashed Bethnel Green CC at Wardown. Luton declared on 328 for four wickets (Holdstock, not out 161). In reply the visitors were all out for 58 (Dunham, nine wickets at a cost of 16 runs).

« The only military activity reported was at Ashridge, where the 5th Bedfordshires were encamped under the command of Col C. de Winton. The 270-strong Luton detachment left its Park Street HQ for Ashridge just before 3 o'clock on the Saturday and completed the 11-mile march in full kit, arriving about 7 o'clock with only regulation Army halts being observed along the way – Major Brighten providing the pies! Gen Inglefield, who commanded the Eastern Division, expressed satisfaction in the strength of the Bedfordshires, who, with nearly 900 men at camp, formed the strongest battalion present.