E5 Event

Blast factory inferno survivors' stories

A little group of men stood by the side of a fence near the scene of the Kingsway factory destruction, and it was amongst those that a Telegraph representative discovered some of the survivors of the original explosion.

All of them bore witness to the ordeal through which they had passed. One had his face bandaged; another had his arm dressed; while one of them wore a shirt which was burned into holes.

Ammunition factory explosion sparks inferno

World War One ammunition resulted in a catastrophic explosion that rocked Luton – but it happened 21 months after the Great War had ended.

The events of Saturday, August 14th, 1920, were recorded on the day by the Saturday Telegraph under the multiple headlines: Luton ammunition blaze – Kingsway factory wrecked – Six casualties – Firemen work amid continuous explosions – Millions of rounds involved – Neighbouring works damaged.


Troopship Disaster

Troopship Royal Edward.

Before the Great War, the Royal Edward was launched in 1907 as a service for British mail from Egypt called RMS Cairo.

At the start of the War in 1914, she became a Troopship, initially bringing Canadian troops over to Britain. She was then anchored in Southend and used for some months to hold enemy aliens, after which she was again put into use as a troopship.

August 15, 1915 - a day of fallen heroes

The Gallipoli story compiled by John Buckledee from reports in the Luton News in August and September 1915. Many local men perished or were wounded in a baptism of fire among the small precipitous hills, immense boulders of rock and tangled thickets of scrub on the Turkish-held shores of the Dardanelles.


On Sunday, August 15, 1915, the 5th Bedfordshire Battalion was ordered into action. 'B' Company, under the command of Capt Baker (the son of the Rector of Dunstable), was put on the right flank.

Three Prisoner Brothers

It was reported in the Luton News on 27th February 1919 of one family's unusual experience.

In 1911 Lutonian Albert Barton & his Scottish wife Mary Ann were living at 13 Henry Street.

Their 6 children were also living with them, Susan, 23, was a hat finisher, Daisy was 18 and a hat machinist, both were working in a factory in the town. William, 17, was a brass finisher and 16 year old Edward was assisting in brass moulding. 14 year old twins Albert & Walter were not working.


Taken from Luton News 13th July 1916.  Duke and Duchess Present.  Stirring scenes, illustrative of two sides of the war were witnessed at Ampthill Station on Monday.  The first scene was the departure of 800 brave Bedfordshire lads for the Front, and the other was the arrival of 100 wounded soldiers straight from the Front.  Both events were deeply touching and brought home very closely the realities of war to those who witnessed them.  The men of the Bedfordshires left about 7.30, there being a large crowd at the station.  The Duke and Duchess were among those who bade Godspeed to the men,

A Hospital Romance

On 22nd February 1919 Nurse Harriett Sprowson married Staff Sergeant Edwin Alexius Lyons.

Harriet was born in Wilmslow, Cheshire in 1879. In 1911 she was boarding at the Royal Hotel in Ashby de la Zouch, Leicestershire & working in the hospital. In 1917 she came to work at the Rosemary Military Hospital, 28 Milton Rd,  Harpenden where she had the important role of Sister-in-Charge. It is here that she met & nursed her future husband, Edwin Lyons.

Luton and the Lusitania

Luton And The Lusitania

RMS Lusitania was a steam powered British ocean liner, holder of the Blue Riband and briefly the world's biggest ship, weighing 44,060 tons. Construction started By John Brown & Company at Clydebank on 7 June1904. She was launched by the Cunard Line on 7 June 1906.

Lusitania made many voyages across the Atlantic from Liverpool to New York City, but on the outbreak of war, the admiralty decided to use her to transport large quantities of munitions to Britain from America, as well as carrying on as a passenger liner.


Gallipoli Campaign

The Gallipoli campaign is important to the town of Luton, due to the sheer number of Lutonians who were fighting there as part of the 1/5th Bedfordshire Regiment. Casulties were very heavy, and it is regarded as the single largest loss of life sustained by the town in a short period of time.

Attack on Hill 60

The unnamed soldier who held a railway cutting against a German counter attack on Hill 60, turns out to be Sergt. Charles Blake, 6069,  Machine  Gun Section Of the 1st Bedfordshire Regiment, whose wife and family live at 5, Chobham Street.   In a letter to his wife he says: "You will be pleased to know that i earned myself a name, and have been recommended for the D.C.M.


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