Mayor Impey returns to Luton

The Mayor's statement headg

On July 26th, 1919, the Beds & Herts Saturday Telegraph published a statement given by Mayor Henry Impey when, two days earlier, he had made his first trip back to Luton following the riots.

The statement had previously been published in a special edition of The Luton News on July 24th, following the afternoon visit by Henry Impey. The statement, volunteered by the Mayor to two representatives of The Luton News, said:

“I only went away for my wife's sake, and at the express desire of the Town Clerk and the Chief Constable. We got away on Sunday morning. My wife was stuck in the Town Hall until nearly 10 o'clock.

“I have been in touch with them by telephone all the time since then, and from the Town Clerk I have received a letter in which it was stated: 'The Council unanimously direct me to to convey to the Mayoress and yourself their sincere sympathy and great regret at the whole occurrence, and their fervent hope that you will soon recover from the shock and trouble that has fallen upon you'.

“I have telegrams from the Mayors of Bedford, Dunstable, Folkestone, Newcastle and other places, and letters from residents of the borough and no-residents, all expressing their sympathy.”

After mentioning that one letter contained a statement that people wrongly maligned in connection with the happenings in Luton would live through it as other wrongly maligned people had done at other times, the Mayor added that he was not staying in the town at present, He was returning immediately, in fact, as his wife would not consent to his coming down to Luton unless he promised to return.

Continuing his statement, Henry Impey said: “I wanted to speak to the crowd on Saturday afternoon. This was after the first riot, but the advice of my colleagues was against my going out to speak. They thought the crowd was not in a state to listen, and I thought perhaps there was some reason in that advice. But I was willing.

“I wrote on Sunday to say I should be back on Monday morning, if the Town Clerk and Chief Constable thought it advisable, but they thought I had better stop away a few more days, and I really was not fit to come.

“I do feel bad. After all one has done for one's town all one's life, and then for this to happen! My wife was in the Town Hall until just before it started burning, and naturally was in such a state that I had to get away with her. Some of my colleagues stuck by us like Britons.

“In a few days I may make a statement about other matters.”

With reference to his future movements, and in reply to a direct question as to where he proposed to stay in the immediate future, the Mayor said his movements in the next few days would depend on the health of the Mayoress, and that this was seriously affected by the happenings of the weekend.

It might be necessary for him to take the Mayoress away somewhere before he could give full attention to matters arising out of the rioting.

The Mayor also gave his story to The Luton Reporter while in Luton on Thursday, July 24th.