Kitchener letter on show in Luton

Event date

17th July 1916


Entity info.
Kitchener letter in Luton


The exhibition of Lord Kitchener's original letter (calling for another 300,000 men for the New Army) in a large marquee in front of the Town Hall on Monday [July 17th, 1916] almost approached the dignity of a public function.

Most extensive bunting was displayed, and a troop of 1st Luton, 3rd Beds Scouts, under the direction of Scoutmaster Charles Robinson and patrol leaders Halstead and Lambton, were on duty from 9.30 am to 9 pm. The committee - Councillors Attwood, Impey and Mr A. J. Powdrill - carried out their duties with great thoroughness and zeal, and the proceeds were to be divided equally between the National Red Cross and Prisoner of War funds.

Admission to the marquee to inspect the historic document was by ticket, and the charges were 2s 6d, 1s or 6d, children out of school hours and soldiers in uniform 1d, adults after 6 o'clock 3d.

The ceremony was possible thanks to the courtesy of the purchaser of the letter, Mr T. Fenwick Harrison, of King's Walden Bury, who bought it for £6,000 at the final auction at the Gift House, Pall Mall, and who is presenting it to the nation.

The letter in the first place became the property of Sir Hedley Le Bas, who presented it for sale for the Red Cross Funds, and Monday's exhibition was with the approval of Luton's Mayor (Alderman J. H. Staddon). The patrol leaders also seized the opportunity of collecting with boxes for "Our Boys" (or, in other words, wounded soldiers) from the onlookers and passers-by.

Considerable local interest was aroused in the event.

The most interesting part of the day was when Mr Fenwick Harrison arrived in his motor-car, accompanied by Mr William Fellowes, of Land House, Kingswalden. While Mr Harrison was here, Lady Wernher and several of her friends arrived from Luton Hoo by motor-car.

Mr Harrison arrived about 5 pm and was met by the guard of Boy Scouts and then by the Mayor and members of the exhibition committee. They went into the marquee, and there Mr Harrison expressed his delight at the manner in which the scheme had been taken up in Luton. He hoped it would prove a successful day. It is interesting to note that Mr Harrison was quite in agreement with the division of the proceeds between the Red Cross Society and the Prisoners of War Fund.

Our photographer afterwards photographed a group outside the marquee, in which Mr Harrison is holding the letter in the case. It was just then that Lady Wernher arrived, and the Mayor hurried to receive her. He escorted her ladyship, and as she went in Lady Wernher was given the salute by the Boy Scouts. It is pleasing to add that Lady Wernher was very much interested in the boys, and expressed her pleasure at the fact that they were playing a part in the occasion.

Lady Wernher gave a very generous donation to the Red Cross box, and her praise of the way in which the arrangements were made was equally generous.

Shortly afterwards her ladyship left amidst the cheering of the Boy Scouts, and it was not long afterwards when Mr Fenwick Harrison took his farewell. The boys again gave the salute and cheered him, and it was obvious that Mr Harrison appreciated very much the warmth of his reception.

On Tuesday Mr Powdrill handed over the letter to a representative of the Marquis of Lansdowne for exhibition on Wednesday at Bowood, at a fete in aid of the Corsham Red Cross Hospital, of which Lady Goldney is Commandant.

[The Luton News: Thursday, July 20th, 1916]


Event Place

Kitchener letter in Luton

Author: Deejaya

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