As a prominent landmark on Market Hill it was inevitable that the Corn Exchange should become a focus for recruiting during World War 1. It gave a vantage point over George Street to speakers urging young men to enlist and it gave crowds a chance to cheer the recruits as they mounted the steps to sign on.
It was also an assembly point for members of the Luton Volunteer Training Corps before they set out for drills and exercises at Stockwood Park, for example.
Leagrave War Memorial, a monument to the men of Leagrave, Limbury and Biscot who gave their lives in World War One, was unveiled on the afternoon of Sunday, July 24th, 1921, by Lady Ludlow, of Luton Hoo, in front of a large crowd of people.
The memorial in Marsh Road is an obelisk 12 feet high standing on a square base and is built of Portland stone. It was designed by Mr Basil Deacon and built by Giddings and Son, of Luton.
Stopsley War Memorial, commemorating the 24 men of the village who fell in the Great War, was unveiled by Mr Ben Hartop on March 27th, 1921, in front of a crowd of several hundred people.
The memorial was placed on the site of the old Well House Green (now the junction of St Thomas' Road and Hitchin Road). The site was given by Lady Wernher, of Luton Hoo, who would have unveiled it had she not been away on the Continent at the time.
Luton Hoo, country home of Lady Alice Wernher, played a crucial role in World War One. From the outset it became a military headquarters, and was also used as a convalescent home for officers.
In 1914, Luton Hoo Park was the setting for two major military reviews, first by King George V on September 18th and then by Lord Kitchener on September 29th. In February 1915 the War Office and Lord Kitchener accepted Lady Wernher's offer of the use of part of the park and a lake as a military training area.
Although Wardown House was opened as a military hospital for wounded troops, hundreds of soldiers were still treated along with civilians at the Bute Hospital in Dunstable Road during World War One, greatly adding to its workload.
Biscot windmill was a familiar backdrop to pictures taken at Biscot Camp during World War One. But the camp, laid out on roads intended to be used for housing, was a sign that an urban future was encroaching on the agricultural past. The following article was written by John Lea under the heading "Memories and records of Biscot Mill" and published in The Luton News on December 28th, 1956.
The period immediately before, during, and just after World War One was a defining time for local newspaper The Luton News. From small beginnings in 1891 it had grown into the most widely read local publication in the town. And its files on microfilm now give a record of events and people of the time that are used in blogs on this site.
The Duke of Bedford created a showpiece military training camp for the Bedfordshire Regiment at Ampthill Park - and Luton men were among the first 300 to experience what The Luton News described as "the place" for recruits.
The Duke, a colonel of the regiment, was in command of the training depot, which he had established and was financing.