Protests over Electricity Works soot

Residents and property owners near Luton Corporation's Electricity Works sent protest letters and two petitions to the Town Council against the nuisance which they claimed was caused by smoke, soot and other forms of dust from the plant.

A letter from Mr Percy Allen, on behalf of several resident, said that the nuisance caused to surrounding properties from discharges from the Electricity Works chimney shafts was making houses in the vicinity unfit to live in, and owners were being put to considerable expense through the blocking of gutters etc. Tenants were leaving owing to the impossibility of putting things, such as washing, up in the garden. He said a stop ought to be put to the nuisance or he and others would be compelled to put the matter into other hands.

Mrs S. Godfrey, of 29 Church Street said she could speak from personal experience of the very real discomfort and annoyance to which people in the neighbourhood were subjected. One almost regretted municipal ownership of such an undertaking, for the same disagreeable conditions would not be tolerated from works under private control, she said. The Town Council would earn the undying gratitude of the inhabitants if they would give speedy attention to what was a just cause for complaint.

Another letter writer said the weight of coal dust on his small premises would be about five to six hundredweights, and the cost of clearing was £2 to £2 13s every few weeks. The longest time the premises could be left without attention was two months.

Two petitions, one signed by 70 individuals and the other by 66, were presented to the meeting. The Council put off considering the matter until the close of public business.

But Alderman Wilkinson, Chairman of the Electricity and Tramways Committee, said everything had been done that could be done. While admitting that there had been cause for complaints on some occasions, he believed the complaints in recent letters were magnified to a considerable degree.

He admitted that the station was overloaded, but when a new shaft and machinery came into operation early in 1915 there would be improvements. In the meantime he hoped residents would be as patient as possible until the management had a fair chance to get rid of the problem. The station was working to its utmost capacity and the Council soon would have to face the proposition of another extension.

The Town Clerk, Mr William Smith, said the Council did not admit there was a nuisance. If a member of the Council used that word without using the word "alleged" before it, he must object.

Councillor Chapman thought the Committee were chiefly to blame for the letters being received. They had "pooh-poohed" the idea that there was a nuisance there. He had been to and seen the homes of people affected and there was a nuisance.

Alderman Wilkinson said the problem was one not one common to Luton. But theirs was a busy station and it was of great usefulness to the town. If those engaged in industries in Luton were dependent on making their own power there would be a considerably greater nuisance.

[The Luton News, December 3rd, 1914]