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Extended school holidays for children

[Beds & Herts Saturday Telegraph: July 26th, 1919]

On Wednesday [July 23rd, 1919], at a meeting of the Luton Education Committee, a letter was read from the Board of Education informing the Committee that the King had expressed a desire that in commemoration of the peace some extension of the school summer holidays should be granted to the schoolchildren.

A riot of colour ahead of the riots

[Beds & Herts Saturday Telegraph: July 26th, 1919]

Luton colour scheme last Saturday (writes a member of our staff) was suggestive of the spirit of the town during those momentous hours of the weekend. Many terms of description have been applied by admiring crowds to the decorations, ranging from “Blimey, matey, ain't it lovely” of the ragged street urchin, to the “Yes, quite effective – quite a pleasing tone about it” of the art connoisseur.

The spectre of Bolshevism

Bolshevism film ads

When Town Clerk William Smith began the prosecution case against alleged Peace Day rioters at Luton Borough Court on July 30th, 1919, he said the magistrates would find the outbreak was nothing more than Bolshevism, anarchy, drunkenness and criminality, and the extreme penalty for riotous demolition of buildings was penal servitude for life.

Ex-servicemen groups condemn the rioting

The local branches of the Federation of Discharged Sailors and Soldiers and the Comrades of the Great War both issued statements condemning the Peace Day violence.

In The Tuesday Telegraph of July 22nd, 1919, Mr H. C. Cooper, Secretary of the DS&S, issued a disclaimer that the branch was in any way responsible for the display of lawlessness which had been seen during the previous weekend.

Town Council and the Wardown question

In a notice published in the Beds & Herts Tuesday Telegraph on July 15th, 1919, the local branch of the Discharged and Demobilised Sailors and Soldiers Federation pointed out that they would be adhering strictly to a nationally-agreed policy of refraining from taking any part whatsoever in Peace celebrations and, while they had a deep grievance against the Town Council for the refusal of the use of Wardown Park for a sacred purpose, they did not want to cause a feeling among the general public that would be detrimental to their interests.

Mayor absent from Guardians' meeting

[From the Beds & Herts Tuesday Telegraph: July 22nd, 1919]

For practically, if not actually, the first time in the history of the Luton Board of Guardians, the proceedings of this public body were yesterday [Monday, July 21st] conducted under the presidency of a lady – Mrs A. Attwood, the Vice-Chairman. This was necessitated by the absence of the Mayor (Council Impey), who is Chairman of the Board.

Few tears shed for old Town Hall

Town Hall on Peace Day

  • 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 read?

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.

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