Feeding the 5,000-plus at the Hoo

Hoo sports day page in Luton News

[Beds & Herts Tuesday Telegraph: August 19th, 1919]

For tea during the ex-service's sports day at Luton Hoo there were four large marquees and each marquee was intended to supply four parties at intervals of half an hour. The fact that, as in the case of the sports, there were separate tents for the different parties was in no sense an attempt at segregation but an essential part of the arrangements in order that the company should be distributed as evenly as possible throughout the marquees and also throughout the four periods.

It worked very well indeed, and without any crushing, up to the closing stages. Then the “Unattached,” who were in much greater strength than any of the other three sections, began to develop a large queue, and to get over this the men who were waiting were divided among the other tents.

No attempt was made to seat the guests in the marquees. Advantage was taken of the brilliant weather to make a picnic in the open. Men went into their tent, took a plate, packed it with such comestibles as pleased their fancy, obtained a cup of tea and straightway went out to an enclosure in front of their marquee, sat on the grass with their pals and carried on.

Waitresses moved about among them with additional supplies for those who were in need, and the general report was that everything was available in liberal quantity and that everybody enjoyed this al-fresco way of having tea.

Lady Wernher made a tour of the tea tents to personally assure herself that the arrangements were giving general satisfaction.

Having regard to the previously expressed opinions as to the difficulty of arranging for the refreshment of such a large gathering with any probability of success, it is noteworthy that Lady Wernher placed full confidence in the capability of a local firm to undertake the task. Instead of the contract being placed in London or elsewhere, it was given to Messrs Slater, of Park Square, who have on a number of previous occasions been entrusted with the catering for various functions at Luton Hoo.

The four marquees used for the service of refreshments were each 120ft long, and from these tea was supplied by a staff of 150 to the 5,200 ex-servicemen from Luton and to 550 people from the Luton Hoo Estate. In the evening refreshments were served to 12,170 people.

For tea there were meat patties, brown and white bread and butter, sandwiches, assorted cakes, sultana and cherry buns, dessert biscuits and fruit.

Messrs Slater inform us that their provision for the refreshments to this huge gathering of people included: Tea, 1½ cwts; milk, 100 gallons; fruit cake, 3,000 lbs; buns, 18,000; pork pies, 20,000; 4lb loaves, 700; lemonade, 1,000 gallons.