15 George Street Luton
George Street in 1901 - for a larger version, please click on the image
15 George Street is first listed in a directory in 1869, when it was occupied by Charles Robinson, "Tuscan, straw and fancy hat and bonnet manufacturer". He is first listed at an unnumbered property in Market Hill in 1861 and it seems a reasonable guess that it was in the same property. By 1877 Mrs. Charles Robinson is occupier, carrying on the same line of business, and by 1885 it is Charles Robinson and Company. The firm is last listed in a directory of 1890. By 1894 the building is listed as occupied by South Bedfordshire Conservative and Constitutional Club.
One of the leading lights in the South Bedfordshire Conservative Party was Luton brewer John William Green. Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service has a small run of deeds of the club deposited by Whitbread in 2002, that firm having taken over Flowers Breweries, itself a merger of J. W. Green Limited and Midlands brewers Flowers.
In September 1893 a messuage and warehouse with outbuildings, yard, garden etc. on the south-west side of Market Hill, Luton "for many years past in occupation of Charles Robinson & Company but shortly intended to be occupied as South Bedfordshire Conservative & Constitutional Club" was conveyed by Ann Brown of Park Street, Luton, spinster to the following trustees for £1,500 [WB/Green4/1/Lu/SBCC1]:
- Alfred Atkins of Luton [Cheapside], printer;
- William Austin of Luton [7 George Street West], gentleman [solicitor];
- William Carrington of Luton [10 Hastings Street], plumber and glazier;
- Hugh Cumberland of Luton [Castle Street], auctioneer;
- Oliver Thomas Duke of Houghton Regis, lieutenant colonel;
- Henry Edwards of Luton 85 Park Street and 26 High Town Road], tailor;
- Arthur Evelyn Fyler of Shillington Manor, colonel;
- John William Green of Luton [Phoenix Brewery, Park Street West], brewer;
- Joseph Henry Jennings of Luton, retired ironmonger;
- Francis Merchant of Luton [8 and 10 Manchester Street], upholsterer;
- William Richards Phillips of Luton [Dunstable Road], civil engineer;
- William Randall of Luton [17 Rothesay Road], Leghorn hat manufacturer;
- Henry Thomas Shackleton of Luton, hat tip and lining manufacturer;
- Joseph Henry Staddon of Luton, straw and felt hat manufacturer;
- James Turner of Luton [39 Park Street West], lithographer;
- Bethel Ware of Luton [King Street], ribbon merchant;
- William Frederick Webdale of Luton [Wellington Street], warehouseman;
- Herbert Owen Williams of Luton [Manchester Street], builders merchant.
A covenant and agreement of 1907 recited: "it has been arranged to rebuild and improve the Club premises" [WB/Green4/1/Lu/SBCC4]. In February 1909 the property was described as: "the demolished property recently re-erected as the South Bedfordshire Conservative Club" [WB/Green4/1/Lu/SBCC5]. The mortgage which financed the rebuilding was transferred to J. W. Green LImited in 1933 [[WB/Green4/1/Lu/SBCC7].
The Rating and Valuation Act 1925 specified that every piece of land and building in the country was to be assessed to determine its rateable value. Most of Bedfordshire was valued in 1927. Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service is lucky in having the valuer's notebook covering most of George Street. Evidence in the book shows that the survey of George Streettook place in 1928.
This premises was still, in 1928, the home of Luton Conservative Club [DV1/R7/34-35], secretary of which was G. H. Jones. The basement contained: a committee room with a block floor measuring 21 feet by 13 feet 6 inches; a wine cellar measuring 10 feet by 16 feet; a coal cellar measuring 10 feet by 5 feet; a lavatory; a small kitchen measuring 10 feet by 16 feet and a beer cellar measuring 17 feet by 15 feet and 15 feet by 25 feet.
The ground floor comprised: a reading room measuring 16 feet 6 inches by 22 feet; a lavatory; a smoke room measuring 12 feet 6 inches by 16 feet; a bar measuring 28 feet by 18 feet; a large games room with a block floor measuring 44 feet by 25 feet; another lavatory; a large hall with platform and gallery measuring 40 feet by 28 feet with four cloakrooms off and a dining room measuring 22 feet by 29 feet. On the first floor lay a billiard room with eight tables ("Half new July 26") measuring 22 feet by 96 feet, a lavatory with five urinals and two w. c.'s off. The valuer commented: "Nice Red Sandstone front" and "Very fine Club".
The premises was still occupied by the Conservative Club as late as the last Kelly's Directory for Luton in 1975. Today  a new office block stands on the site, home to the Royal Bank of Scotland..
15 to 17 George Street June 2010