10,000 children celebrate peace

Children's peace march to Luton Hoo 1919

[Luton News: Thursday, September 25th, 1919]

“Remember the children” was the motto of Luton on Thursday and Friday [September 18th and 19th], and although the little ones have had to wait some time for their share in the Peace rejoicings there is no doubt that what they have experienced on the two days mentioned was well worth waiting for.

The appeal of the juveniles to the sympathy and consideration of their elders is one that never fails, and if the youngsters, in their thousands, were happy, so too were the older folk in the thought that the children were at length receiving their due.

The teachers of the town undertook the arrangements of the festivities, and in their capable hands everything was organised wisely and well.

To the Deputy Mayor (Councillor C. Dillingham) and the members of the committee who worked so enthusiastically under his genial leadership, the thanks of all are due. Councillor Dillingham's appeal for the children brought over £1,100.

The arrangements had to be on a huge scale, for for the organisers had to provide for 10,000 children, and of these 6,300 were older scholars, who were entertained at the Hoo. Under expert guidance the whole scheme was worked out to a nicety, the work falling upon the shoulders of the following sub-committees:

Procession: Mr A. Mander (convenor), Miss Green, Messrs T. A. E. Sanderson, W. Haith and F. Ball. Tea: Mr W. H. Hyder (convenor), Miss Gunton, Misse Emery, Messrs Barnell and Emery. Finance: The Deputy Mayor, Alderman Arnold, Councillor Barford, and the chairmen of the other sub-committees. Entertainment and sports: Mr Sanderson (convenor), Mr Sylvester and Mr Bunyan (chairman and secretary of the Schools' Athletic Association), Councillor Escott, the Misses Dowdall, Daft and Impey, Messrs Scott, Eling and Oddie. Grounds committee: Mr James Baker, the Borough Engineer, the chairmen of the tea and sports sub-committees, and Councillor Barford as convenor.

For their march to the Park, the children gathered in the various thoroughfares, where Chief Constable Griffin and his force lent valuable aid in marshalling the processionists and regulating the traffic. The clerk of the weather was kind, and the sun shone down in softened autumn glory on the pleasant scene.

Children's peace meadal 1919Some of the children were in fancy dress, and flags, garlands and mottoes were carried. At one school the whole of the school's flags were cut, finished and pointed by the teachers and girls themselves. Commemorative medals (illustrated, right), which had been presented by Mrs Staddon earlier in the week, were also worn by the children.

Crowds lined the streets to witness the passing of the children, and they looked most charming as they marched along to the music of the bands. The Red Cross Band led the way, and the Salvation Army Band was placed further back in the procession, which must have been over a mile in length.

On arrival at the gates of the Park the children halted and were gathered en masse for the singing of the National Anthem, in which all heartily joined. The the Park was entered, and Luton enlarged the debt of gratitude which it owes to Lady Wernher for her ready loan of the spacious domain on this and other occasions. The one regret was that she was unable to be present to witness such an inspiring spectacle.

Immediately on entry came a busy time for the helpers. The whole of the 6,000 children were seated on the grass in regular sections, and in view of their early dinners, they were at once regaled with tea, cakes etc in plenty. The catering was placed in the experienced hands of Messrs Slater, Park Square, Luton. The eatables were all ready in big stacks in several marquees, and there was a big field kitchen busy at work supplying tea.

The teachers spent a most energetic time in keeping the little mouths busy, and the youngsters did full justice to the welcome meal after their march, and soon they were fresh and invigorated for the afternoon's sports and pleasures.

Quickly the whole of the cups and plates were collected, and the helpers were then able to sit down quietly to refresh themselves. Afterwards a move was made over the fields, and the different schools took up positions at spots assigned for the sports. Useful prizes were provided, and the teachers of the respective schools carried out their own sports, which were entered into with zest by both girls and boys, there being different kinds of racing suitable to varying ages.

Very soon a Punch and Judy show attracted a large crowd of children. Then Messrs Brock's fireworks operators put in an early appearance, and were soon setting all laughing merrily at the grotesque paper balloons, and the parachutes of ludicrous shape, representing fishes or animals.

Later on, several clowns at the lower end of the Park started another show and, to the delight of the large audience, began a series of knockabout antics.

The bands also played selections during the afternoon. So the fun reigned at its height. There were only one or two minor accidents, such as scraped legs, and those were quickly put right at the St John's Ambulance tent which was provided.

The time came again for refreshments for the multitude. This meal took the form of ginger beer and cake, and the youngsters were again ready for the good fare.

Soon afterwards – about 7pm – parents began to arrive to take charge of their children before the evening firework display commenced.

The crowd then numbers about 25,000, and the rockets and set pieces were watched with delight by the huge concourse. An appropriate finale was provided by a portrait of the King, and the rendering of the National Anthem.

Children's festivities


The turn of the younger children came on Friday, when 3,600 tiny tots were entertained in the elementary schools of the town, and at the Castle Street Hall, excellent arrangements having been made by Miss Tennant (Beech Hill) and Mr Mark Lorne.

The earliest part of the day was spent in visits to the various cinemas of the town, at which films specially suitable for such an occasion were shown. The entertainment at the Palace Theatre was marked by an interesting ceremony, a beautiful bouquet of flowers being handed to Mrs Lorne by Vera Noakes, one of the pupils at Beech Hill, and a Teddy Bear to Mr and Mrs Lorne's little girl by Stewart Leverton.

Tea followed the pictures, and the meal was laid at seven centres – Beech Hill, Dunstable Road, St Matthew's (High Town), St Mary's, Castle Street Hall, Chapel Street and Langley Street. These had been attractively decorated with flags, evergreens and flowers, and table cloths were spread on the tops of the school desks for the feat, consisting of a plentiful supply of bread and butter, iced buns, cakes, doughnuts and sponge sandwich.

Teachers from both the upper and lower schools waited upon the little ones, with the assistance of a few other helpers, and among the visitors were Councillor C. Dillingham, Councillor and Mrs Barford, Councillor and Mrs Escott, and Mr and Mrs P. J. Carter. The catering for the little ones was contracted for by Messrs Dudeney and Johnston Ltd.

The day's events concluded with a Punch and Judy show, and a ventriloquist entertainment at five centres, and marionettes and a Punch and Judy exhibition. In addition to the London artistes, Mr Twort, who has children attending the Queen's Square School, and his two boys assisted in the programme at the Langley Street centre.

At the close of the day's proceedings each child received a bun and an apple, and earlier in the day the little ones were handed medals by their teachers.

Valuable help was rendered by Mr W. Horn, of 'Chamonix,' who lent motors for the conveyance of the artistes from one centre to another during the evening, and Miss Tennant was greatly assisted by Miss Chamberlain and Miss Jones. The assistance given by the police in many directions should likewise be mentioned.

The Beds & Herts Tuesday Telegraph (September 23rd) devoted most of two pages to the results of the children's sports, which were organised in school groups (see below).

Chgildren's sports results1

Children's sports results 2