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.

But one of the most apt descriptions of the town's appearance heard on Saturday was, we think, “A riot of colour”. A riot indeed!

On the route of the procession practically every window of every building displayed it gaily coloured flags, buntings and festoons, with banners spanning the road at intervals. Each individual building, viewed by itself, presented quite a pleasing appearance, the design in many cases being of an artistic and symmetrical nature.

But the picture presented from the end of the street, as one gazed on long rows of buildings each sporting its multi-coloured emblems – a medley conglomeration of Union Jacks, Standards, flags of America and the Allies, and banners and streamers as far as the eye could see – was simply an irresponsible, flaming jumble of colour – a riot!

But the sight of the streets expressed to a great degree the feeling of the mass of the people that joyous and carefree carnival spirit in which Luton sallied forth on Saturday morning for a “day out,” for a few crowded hours of glorious life in which to give vent to their emotions by any fitting sign, be it spectacular parade, fireworks and bonfires, or the blazing lines of the streets.

In spite of the fact that some ex-servicemen took no official part in the celebrations, the respects and honour in which they are held was evinced by such inscriptions in the streets as “Three cheers for the Boys,” “Our Army and Navy, we thank you,” “Bravo Army and Navy,” “Welcome home” and many others of similar nature.

Union Jacks were floating from from the local headquarters of the DS&S Association and the Comrades of the Great War, whilst a banner across Park Street from the club of the former bore the inscription, “Don't Pity Us – Give Us Work”.

There were many banner worded “God Bless our King and Queen,” “Long live the King and Queen,” etc, but it was noticeable that, although we have heard time and time again from every pulpit in the town that the victory is due to Divine forces, and that to Almighty God should be given all the praise, inscriptions to his effect, or making any reference to Divine aid, were conspicuous by their absence. This point struck one as a flaw in the scheme of decorations.

One or two shops and buildings were decorated in exceptionally effective style, the premises of a shopkeeper in the centre of the town being the subject of widespread comment during the whole of the past week. The drapings – in a soft, almost sombre, shade of mauve – were markedly reminiscent of the sorrow and dullness of the times through which we have passed, but the note of triumph was struck by the laurel wreaths and garlands and emblematic figures of the Angel of Victory crowning the tableau on each side. But would it not have been more appropriate had one of the figures represented Peace?

Among the public buildings, it is undoubtedly to the Modern School that the palm should be awarded, the decorations here taking the form of laurel and evergreen festoons, arranged most artistically.

In meaner streets, too, decoration was not lacking, and many a humble home in the working class areas of the town displayed its flags and streamers – signs which, although without the pomp and splendour of the more ambitious schemes, betokened, nevertheless, the joys of the populace.

Thus did the people of Luton deck their drab streets on Saturday in a bright garb of colour, and signalised, after her exile of five dark years, the jubilant coronation of Peace.