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The Luton Peace Riots - Monday Night

The Town Hall smouldering [Z1306/75]
The Town Hall smouldering [Z1306/75]

The Luton News continued its coverage of the Peace Riot in its issue of 24th July 1919 thus:

MONDAY NIGHT'S FRACAS 

"Further demonstrations occurred on Monday night, and the angry mob, which included many women, pulled down a brick wall at the corner of New-street and Chapel-street and another posse of police met them higher up. In their mad rush, the rioters threw bricks and other missiles through shop windows and windows of private houses".

"The large plate glass window of the Halford Cycle Company's shop [11 Chapel Street] was smashed by a flying cocoa-nut, and the shelves on which articles were arranged, crashed. The cocoa-nut was found in the window".

"Other shop windows smashed, apparently with bricks, included Mr. Brandon's [Alfred James Brandon, straw hat manufacturer, 95 Chapel Street] and Mr. Rose's [William David Rose, physician and surgeon, medical officer to Luton Workhouse and Children's Home, 6 George Street West], and the shop next to the Bethel Chapel [Chapel Street] whilst a large plate glass window of a private house (formerly a shop) was also smashed. To replace the window of the Halford Cycle Company's shop alone will cost over £30".

"In one instance a woman was found walking about with a brick under her coat. She did not carry the brick far when found!"

"The affair happened about eleven o'clock, and the prompt and commendable action of the police was distinctly successful".

"In the lower department of the Education Office some furniture is undamaged, but this is practically all that remains of the contents of the building. The mace has been found, in a badly damaged condition, and efforts are being made to discover the Corporation seal".

"Very few people in the town know that in the basement of the Town Hall there was maintained a considerable store of tinned meat, for the benefit of the town in the event of a serious emergency. This was obtained on the initiative of the Town Clerk early in the year, but it was completely destroyed".

D. S. & S. A. POSITION 

Mr. H. C. Cooper, Secretary of the local federation of Discharged Sailors and Soldiers disclaims on their behalf that they were in any way responsible for the display of lawlessness which has been shown during the weekend. In the course of a statement to a member of our staff, he referred to the announcements made by his organisation in our columna last week and said: -"

"On Saturday afternoon it came to the notice of the committee that certain disturbances had in fact arisen at the Town Hall, and the Chairman (Mr. Clay) was asked by one of the magistrates to go to the Town Hall to interview him and others. With other officers of the federation, Mr. Clay went to the Town Hall and addressed the crowd from the Town Hall steps".

"Later we were again informed that rioting was taking place, so several of our committee went down to see whether we could render the authorities any assistance in restoring and maintaining order".

"We did all we could to prevent any trouble arising, and nobody can regret more than the Association the disaster to the town that has been caused".

"My committee particularly ask me to express their sympathy with the members of the police force and special constabulary, and of the Fire Brigade, who acted so bravely, and who were injured in the performance of their duties".

COMRADES' STATEMENT 

"A statement by the Comrades of the Great War says: -"

"While not agreeing with the decision of the Town Council in refusing the use of Wardown Park to discharged soldiers, the Comrades decided to take part in the Peace celebration as a fitting recognition of the glorious victory achieved by sailors and soldiers of the Empire, and while pressing the claim of those who have suffered for fair and just treatment, they wished at the same time to recognise and show their appreciation of the glorious deeds of the men who fought for this victory. The Comrades deprecate the riotous and unlawful action of the mob, and sympathise with the police and Fire Brigade in their thankless task of doing their duty under such trying circumstances".

RICOCHETTES 

"Mr. Cecil Harmsworth, M. P. [Liberal], motored into the town from London on Sunday morning, and made sympathetic inquiries as to the police and other persons injured in the disturbance".

"Mrs. A. B. Attwood presided over the meeting of the Board of Guardians on Monday, owing to the absence of the Mayor, and expressed her regret at the incidents which had necessitated her assuming the position".

"Mr. T. G. Hobbs has decided to hand over the £20 which he had allocated as prize money in connection with his proposed competition  for photographic souvenirs of Luton's Peace celebrations, to the Police Force, in recognition of their great services".

"The Deputy Mayor (Councillor C. Dillingham) has signified his intention of giving £100 to the Fire Brigade. "Luton should be proud of Chief Officer Andrew and his men", he says".

Wardown Park Museum has a permanent display on the Peace Day riots in its Luton Life galleries