Following upon the big fire at Wrest Park has now come one of the most devastating fire which Luton has ever experienced. In the early hours of Wednesday morning [September 20th, 1916] one half of the extensive premises of the Davis Gas Stove Co Ltd, known as the Diamond Foundry, was burnt down to the ground.
Buildings on about two acres of ground have been absolutely gutted, stores have been totally destroyed, and the damage will amount to many thousands of pounds, estimated at over £30,000. But fortunately there were no serious injuries.
Up to 200 wounded soldiers were safely evacuated by V.A.D. nurses from Wrest Park mansion when a devastating fire broke out on Thursday, September 14th, 1916, at the stately home that had been in use as a military hospital since November 1914.
Damage initially estimated at around £10,000 was caused at the country home of Lord Lucas, which was extensively damaged. Any furniture, paintings, books and other valuable items that could be rescued were placed in specially erected marquees.
Wedding bells rang out at the Parish Church yesterday (Wednesday 9th August 1916) for Miss Eila Cumberland, the only child of Mr and Mrs E. Anthony Cumberland, of 'Greenhurst', Hart Hill, Luton, and Captain James Ernest Sutcliffe Smith, of Bacup, Lancs. The bridegroom's family is prominent in the industry of Lancashire, while the bride has been a member of the Wardown Military Hospital staff, and her father is senior partner in the firm of Messrs J. Cumberland and Sons, auctioneers and estate agents.
Well over one million men on all sides perished or were wounded in the Battle of the Somme, one of the bloodiest battles in history that spanned five months from July to November 1916. Men from Luton and nearby villages naturally played their part, many making the ultimate sacrifice.
Initially using contemporary Luton newspaper reports, including published casualty lists and stories of local men who lost their lives - and backed up by recognised authoritative sources, this is an attempt to build up a comprehensive roll of honour devoted specifically to the Somme in 1916.
The exhibition of Lord Kitchener's original letter (calling for another 300,000 men for the New Army) in a large marquee in front of the Town Hall on Monday [July 17th, 1916] almost approached the dignity of a public function.
No fewer than 470 girls employed at a Luton factory lost half a day's pay yesterday [Friday, May 26th, 1916], and the firm lost the labour. At one o'clock, when the girls employed in a certain department should have gone to work, they ranged themselves inside the gates and discussed an incident of which we give their version below.
These were among the first of hundreds of men called up under the Derby Scheme for training with the London Royal Field Artillery at Biscot Camp. They were photographed at Beech Hill School - some still in civilian clothes - by a Luton News photographer on April 25th, 1916. The group seated included Major V. F. Fitch and other officers, physical training instructors and NCOs.
On April 10th, 1916, Princess Victoria Louise of Schleswig-Holstein, a granddaughter of Queen Victoria, visited Luton to open a new YMCA hut at Biscot Camp. Here she is pictured on the right of Mayor Alderman John Staddon.
The line-up captured by photographer W. H. Cox was, from the left, Town Clerk William Smith, Councillor and Mrs Stewart Hubbard (donors of the hut), Mayoress Mrs Staddon, the Mayor, Princess Victoria, Lady Wernher of Luton Hoo, Lady in Waiting, and Mr A. K. Yapp, General Secretary of the YMCA, who accepted the hut on behalf of the organisation.
The worst blizzard since 1881 blocked roads and railway lines in Luton, felled large numbers of trees at Wardown Park, Luton Hoo, Putteridge Park and Leagrave and demolished part of the Luton Town FC grandstand on Tuesday, March 28th, 1916. One woman was injured by a falling branch which also damaged the roof of the Vauxhall mess-room in Kimpton Road.
Seven people were injured, including the driver and two children, when this Luton tram jumped the tracks and crashed into an earth bank abutting the Midland Railway bridge at the junction of Midland Road and Old Bedford Road at 11.30 am on Thursday, December 28th, 1916.
The transfer of the hospital within Wardown Mansion from the divisional military authorities to the local Voluntary Aid Detachments of the British Red Cross took place on Monday, November 8th, 1915.
It was now to be used for the reception of wounded troops who could not be accommodated in military hospitals elsewhere. Initially they were to be drafted there from Aylesbury. The hospital had to provide 50 beds for wounded soldiers, with an additional 12 beds to be reserved for soldiers stationed in and around the town.
"Luton has done well, but can do better." This message, emblazoned across the front of the Town Hall, is what today's great military demonstration has sought to impress upon the men of Luton and district.
The demonstration had as its starting point the East Ward Recreation Ground, and the programme provided for units taking part in the parade of the town to assemble there at 2.15 and march off at 2.30. But considerably before two o'clock the Park Street part of the town was all alive.
On June 5th, 1915, the 1/5th Bedfords ended a gruelling 60-miles farewell march around the county in Luton (picture above). They knew they were about to leave for foreign service, but not the date or destination as far as the men were concerned. A little over seven weeks later, in the early hours of July 26th, they were given a rousing send-off by the people of St Albans as they boarded trains to take them to Devonport to sail eventually to Gallipoli. (Follow this link for more Gallipoli stories).
The reception of the 1/5th Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment at the Luton Town Hall on Saturday evening [June 5th, 1915] was responsible for a scene unparalleled in the history of the borough. Never before has the whole battalion been seen in the town, and this in itself made it a noteworthy occasion.
The sinking on May 7th, 1915, of the British liner RMS Lusitania by a torpedo fired from the German submarine U-20 had repercussions both around the world and for people living in the Luton and Herts area.