E18 Physical Thing

Luton Co-operative Society memorial

The Luton Co-operative Society War Memorial that was originally displayed in the New Bedford Road department store was found a new home at the Royal British Legion Club in Marsh Road, Leagrave, in 1993.

The memorial had originally been unveiled in 1946 with the names of Co-op employees from both world wars. It was safely removed following the closure of the store in the 1980s and was eventually found a home with the Royal British Legion. The First World War names on the memorial are (links in yellow offer more detailed information on individuals):


St Matthew's Church War Memorial

Prominent local businessman and auctioneer Hugh Cumberland unveiled the war memorial at St Matthew's Church, High Town, in November 1921. It was dedicated by the then Vicar, the Rev D. A. Jaquet.

The memorial, containing over 150 names, retains a prominent position of respect in the church. The slideshow, below, includes a picture published in the Tuesday Pictorial of the Rev Jaquet and the memorial following the dedication. The inscription reads:

Luton Borough Police Roll of Honour

  • The Luton Borough Police WW1 memorial, as featured in Tom Madigan's book, The Men Who Wore Straw Helmets (The Book Castle 1993). Unfortunately, the memorial seems to have been lost.


Sixteen members of Luton Borough Police Force saw armed service in World War One. Fifteen returned, some having been wounded, but the sixteenth was L-Cpl James Chandler (P/10790, Military Police Corps), who died on February 26th, 1919, from pneumonia in hospital in Cologne while serving with the army of occupation on the Rhine.

J. W. Green Roll of Honour

Fifty men employed by the J. W. Green brewery in Luton served in the Army during World War One, of whom eight made the supreme sacrifice. Their names were included on a roll of honour and read out at a welcome home dinner for returning men at the Plait Hall on Saturday, November 22nd, 1919. Contained on the list were the following names (deceased soldiers are highlighted and were included on the firm's war memorial):

Lt-Col H. P. Green

Capt S. J. Green MC

Lieut R. C. Green

'Save it' posters for food economy

The Great War was a conflict like none that had gone before. Mechanisation produced new types of horrors both on the battlefield and at home, where civilians were under attack from the air for the first time and faced the threat of food shortages due to submarine attacks on shipping. Here are examples from the Wardown House Museum collection of posters directed at encouraging economy in the use of food.

More examples in the slideshow below.

Luton Post Office war memorial

  • Photo: Terry Gatward.


Of the 52 members of the Luton Postal staff who served in World War One, six were to make the ultimate sacrifice – Edward Gatward, Amos C. Moody, William Stanford, George T. Janes, Walter F. Phillips and Albert T. Smith.

Their names are inscribed on a memorial that still stands in the Dunstable Road Sorting Office. An accompanying inscription reads: “To the honoured and lasting memory of our comrades who fell in the Great War 1914-1918.”

Cambridge Street war shrine

Many Luton streets during and after World War One had a war shrine to commemorate the men who had once lived there but had died in the conflict.

Many of the shrines were the result of work by church groups, for instance in November 1917 the Church of England Men's Society at Luton Parish Church unanimously decided to place war shrines in every street of the parish and to visit every house to gather the necessary information for them.

Ex-servicemen's float photo

From the WW1 collection at Wardown House Museum, an undated photo of a DS&S (Discharged Sailors and Soldiers) float bearing the words “if you know a better 'ole, go to it”.

Those words had been used as a caption by Capt Bruce Bairnsfather, a Machine Gun Corps officer, who had been blown up by a shell at Ypres in 1915 and spent his recuperation time in England drawing cartoons. His most famous one showed two soldiers marooned in a shell hole surrounded by the devastation of war, and one (Old Bill) says to the other (Old Bert): “if you know a better 'ole, go to it.”

Limbury Baptist Church Memorial

The memorial to those associated with Limbury Baptist Chapel who had fallen in the Great War. Made of red marble with a white marble base and names inscribed in gilt, it is housed inside the chapel, and was unveiled by Mr E. A. Mander during a solemn service on Sunday, September 14th, 1919.

The nine names inscribed are: W. J. Bass, W. J. Hines, W. Horsler (church members), P. C. Clark, H. Cumberland, F. Munns, G. Scrivener, W. Stanford and H. Mayles (from the Sunday school).

[With thanks to Judith Brazier for supplying the photograph.]

Reminders of Peace Day Riots 1919

Reminders from the Wardown House Museum collection of fateful July 19th, 1919, and the Peace Day riots that resulted in the burning down of the 1847 Town Hall.

Pictured is one of the charred numerals from the face of the clock that had been installed on the Town Hall in August 1856 to commemorate peace at the end of the Crimean War but that came crashing down from the blazing building around 12.30am on July 20th, 1919. Below it is the key to the main door of the ill-fated Town Hall.

Chapel Street Wesleyan Church War Memorial

The war memorial that stood at Chapel Street Wesleyan Methodist Church, as photographed by Frederick Thurston. It was unveiled by the Rev A. Stanley Bishop, a former minister of the circuit, on September 22nd, 1920.

The memorial stood 6ft 6in high and was 4ft 6in wide and was placed in a recess between the two main doorways facing Chapel Street. It consisted of an altar stone supporting a main panel with richly carved pilasters on either side, carrying an entablature and pediment.


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