The Peace Day story: part 3

[From The Luton Reporter: Tuesday, July 22th, 1919]

Folks tried to persuade themselves and their friends that common sense would rule, but it was impossible to avoid ominous illusions to another raid on the Town Hall, and there were one or two incidents in the town of decorations and illuminations being pulled down from private property which betokened that a spirit of wanton destruction was broad.

Twenty thousand or more people are reported to have been in and about Pope's Meadow for the fireworks, and these, with the relentless rain, were favourably looked upon as likely to save the situation. But towards ten o'clock the crowd in George Street and round the Town Hall increased tremendously.

Mayor Impey and Frederick RignallShedding his uniform and moving about the crowd, Mayor's Sergeant [Frederick Rignall] - pictured with the Mayor - learned enough to form the opinion that the Mayor and his bodyguard would be well advised to make good their escape while they were yet safe. It was a case of a wink being as good as a nod to a blind horse, when parties were heard to be singing to the air of a popular refrain something which brought in the Mayor's name and went on “We know where he is. We know he's at the old Town Hall."

For close on seven hours the Mayor Henry Impey and Mayoress [Agnes] were prisoners in the Mayor's Parlour, relieved by an occasional ramble into the Council Chamber when their intelligence department reported all safe. All they had in the way of refreshment was some tea which Chief Constable Charles Griffin managed to get smuggled in by the back way.

When the light began to fail they dare not go in for any tell-tale illumination, beyond the faintest glimmer so placed as not to be visible from outside, and it was a case of groping about in the dark when missiles began to crash through the windows of the Mayor's Parlour and other rooms in front of the building and indicate the necessity of a retreat to safe quarters.

The first task was to get the ladies safely away, and first Mrs Escott and then the Mayoress, who was very much upset and almost gave way under the trying experience, were escorted from the premises without exciting any attention. Aldermen Arnold and Oakley and Councillors Barford and Escott and the Town Clerk remained until the Mayor had got away, and this was not accomplished without some ingenuity being employed.

Various ideas were suggested, and rejected, and finally the one which took shape and was acted upon was the disguise of the Mayor in the uniform of a special constable. In this dress he came out of the back gate into Upper George Street and passed along the street quite unmolested. But as to his destination, perhaps the less said the better!

[The Luton Reporter, July 22nd, 1919]