Seven more in court after riots

Luton Magistrates Court pre-1937

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

Eleven charges were preferred at the Borough Court on Thursday [July 24th] against seven prisoners who were charged with being concerned in the actual rioting on Saturday night, as distinct from the looting of shops, which was the subject of charges against other persons on Wednesday.

Prosecuted for “assembling with others to the number of a thousand or more to disturb the public peace and make a riot on July 19th”, the prisoners were:

John Stanley Long, labourer, 19 Alma Street.

Harry Miles, 7 Gloucester Road.

Maud Kitchener, Gaitskill Row.

Charles Lambert, 63, blocker, 37 Stanley Street.

William Dixon, 43, boiler maker, 47 Hartley Road.

Ephraim Gore, 46, iron erector, 35 Windsor Street.

George Fowler, 21, carter, 6 Albert Terrace.

Dixon and Gore were further charged with assembling, with others, to unlawfully destroy the Town Hall, the property of the Mayor, Alderman and Burgesses of Luton.


Long was charged with assaulting Pc Higham, and Fowler with assaulting Pc Wood.

Insp Janes, who arrested Long on a warrant, said he took him into custody at Market Hill, and on arriving at the police station prisoner said: “I tried to get through to my uncle's to see if the place was all right.” This prisoner, said the witness, was at the Town Hall during the afternoon when the chairs and other things were being thrown out.

In reply to Mr Austin (Clerk), witness said the major portion of the crowd was undoubtedly hostile.

The Chief Constable: “I have taken these cases on the assumption that sufficient evidence was given on oath to justify the justices is issuing the warrants.”

Asked whether he had anything to say why he should not be remanded, prisoner replied: “I should like it settled now.”

The Clerk: “You cannot have it settled now.”

Prisoner: “Can I have bail?”

The Chief Constable: “I strongly oppose bail in any of these cases. They are most serious charges, and it will defeat the ends of justice if they are allowed bail.”

Prisoner was remanded in custody.


Miles was arrested by Police Sgt Matsell, who stated that on the way to the police station, prisoner said: “I have been expecting this.”

Prisoner said he had nothing to offer against being remanded, but he would very much like to have bail. It was the first time he had been in trouble, and responsible people would stand surety for him. He had a wife and seven children, and also wished to try to get evidence to defend himself. He would promise faithful to be at court next Wednesday.

Chief Constable Griffin strongly opposed bail, and described this prisoner, who is the holder of the Military Medal, as one of the principal and most violent leaders of the evening.

He was remanded in custody.


Maud Kitchener, who pleaded not guilty, was stated to have been about the streets on Saturday wearing a soldier's cap and tunic.

Police Sgt Clarke stated that when she was arrested she said: “I didn't do any such thing. I pleade not guilty. I didn't move away from the bottom of Wellington Street. I know I had a soldier's cap and tunic on.”

Prisoner did not object to being remanded, but wanted bail, saying she had two children at home and no one else to look after them.

The Chief Constable: “The man she lives with is in court and can make arrangements about the children.”

Remanded in custody.


Lambert also pleaded not guilty, although none of the prisoners was asked to plead. On being arrested by Police Sgt Parsons, he said: “You have made a mistake. I am the wrong man. I know I was down Wellington Street, but I did not do any damage.”

Prisoner: “I should very much like to say that when I got down Wellington Street and saw the crowd, I said: 'For God's sake don't come any further! Stop!' I shouted out loud and then went to the top of Gordon Street and helped the firemen lay the hose.

“A traveller who lives at Beech Hill saw m,e and said, 'Well done, Charlie'. I said 'Well, what do you think of it? A disgrace, isn't it?' He said, 'It is. They tell me they are going to fire the factories.' I said, 'For God's sake don't say that. I will walk round to our factory.' I had the key to the factory and went in.”

The Chief Constable: “In view of this man's statement I will submit evidence of the assault.”

Pc Riches then stated that on Saturday night he was on duty at the Town Hall, and took part in the police charge against the rioters. He saw the prisoner strike Pc Higham a violent blow on the head. He was afterwards knocked back into the crowd by another constable.”

Prisoner: “What time was this?”

Witness: “The police had no time to look at the time at that time.”

Prisoner: “I am 63 years old, and this is the first time I have had any complaint against me. The police know me quite well, and for the sake of my wife and family as well, I ask for bail.”

Remanded in custody.


Dixon was arrested by Police Sgt Clarke, and said: I did not assist in breaking any windows. I was mad drunk, and did not know what I was doing.”

As he was being brought by the ruins of the Town Hall, he said: “When they started to break windows I was mad drunk or I should not have helped.”

Prisoner: “I have my wife here. She will give evidence where I was at the time.”

Remanded in custody.


Gore, on being arrested by Sgt Bacon said: “All right. Thank you. What I said was about my pension. I only told the crowd to fetch the Mayor and Town Clerk out.”

Prisoner said that when they turned out of the public houses at 2.30 on Saturday he came to the Town Hall. After the procession came through he thought of going as far as Wardown, but there was a crowd at the Town Hall.

“A young fellow came up who could hardly stand. I took him up, and stood at the top and spoke about my pension. I have hundreds to prove it, and that I said, 'Don't damage public property, because we ratepayers have to pay for it. If you have any grievance, the Mayor and Clerk of the town will settle it.' As regards the night, I was never out of my house, and never near George Street until Monday dinner time.”

The Clerk: “Is there any evidence of his being there at night?”

Insp Janes stated that on Saturday afternoon he saw the prisoner on the Town Hall steps. He addressed the crowd and then went to set fire to the flags in front of the Town Hall.

Prisoner: “Didn't I advise the crowd not to touch public property, as we were ratepayers and it would fall on us in the end?”

Witness: “The statements you are making are absolutely false.”

Prisoner: “I was not there on Saturday night, and I can get 100 or 2,000 witnesses.”

Witness: “I have not said anything about Saturday night.”

Prisoner: “I admit being there on Saturday afternoon.”

The Clerk: “And that you set fire to one of the flags?”

Prisoner: “I could call 200 witnesses with regard to that. I took the Inspector's word for it that the Mayor was not at the Town Hall.”

The Chairman: “You will have an opportunity of getting witnesses before Wednesday. You will be remanded in custody until then.”

Prisoner: Thank you. Much obliged.”


Fowler, said Sgt Clarke, was arrested that morning at the Bute Hospital, where he had been detained for some days owing to injuries received on Saturday. When the warrant was read he said: “I am not guilty. I was knocked down by the fire engine.”

Prisoner: “I was coming through the streets and I was knocked down by the fire engine. I never did any damage or anything of that sort.”

Pc Wood, whose head was bandaged, giving evidence in support of the charge of assault, stated that at 10.40 on Saturday night prisoner and other men charged the police at the Town Hall. They were driven back, and some of them fell on the pavement.

Prisoner caught the leg of witness's trousers, pulled him to the ground and beat him while he was on the ground. “I was bruised all over,” said witness.

The prisoner was also remanded in custody.