[From The Beds & Herts Tuesday Telegraph: July 22nd, 1919]
The police were out in force last night [Monday, July 21st] in groups of three, and crowds lined the streets from the Town Hall to Park Street. For the good order of the town the inhabitants should restrain their curiosity and refrain from congregating in the centre.
Old Town Hall on Peace Day, shortly before the rioting broke out.
Although words like “disaster” and “degradation” were applied by the local Press to the Peace Day riots, there appears to have been few tears shed over the loss of the Town Hall as a building. For instance, The Tuesday Telegraph (July 22nd, 1919), in giving a brief history, said:
Was the Riot Act actually read during the Peace Day disturbances in Luton? The Luton Reporter newspaper questioned whether it had been, and no mention of a Riot Act reading was made in any court cases.
In its edition of July 22nd, 1919, the newspaper reported: “Matters got to such a pass after midnight that the reading of the Riot Act was seriously contemplated, and many assert this was actually done, but in official quarters reticence is observed on the subject.
Rising prices during the war had led to accusations of profiteering among shopkeepers and others. A meeting of the Luton Tradesmen's Association on Tuesday, July 15th, 1919, raised concerns that traders were being unjustly blamed for high prices.
Mr Charles Mares (President) said there was a great outcry in reference to the rise in prices, and it appeared the retailers stood in grave danger of being unjustly saddled with the responsibility. It was, he thought, quite obvious that this responsibility could not be laid at their account.
[Beds & Herts Saturday Telegraph: July 19th, 1919 – published on July 18th]
Some time ago, Councillor Bone urged the Luton Town Council to take steps to establish a communal kitchen. His intentions were good, doubtless, but in the presentation of his case he referred to the wastage of good foodstuffs in provision shops, and incidentally dwelt on the qualities of the 'trimmings' which usually go under the counter.
The employees of Commercial Cars Ltd who went from Luton to serve in the Army on various fronts were, as far as we know, the only ex-servicemen in Luton who were entertained to dinner on the official day for Peace Celebrations.
According to all appearances the beginning of the night's trouble was with a gang of noisy young fellows who started pelting the Town Hall windows. Like all movements of this kind, it soon gathered force of numbers and prominent among the adherents were men in khaki and also women.
[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.