Rank or Title
Date of Birth
Date of Death
14 Nov 1947
Place of Birth
World War I Address
Place of Death
Soldier or Civilian
Stewart Butler Hubbard, the newest member of Luton Town Council following his election in North Ward on Monday, November 2nd, 1914, was described by The Luton News as a man whose business history would "rank among what may be termed the romances of the straw trade".
The 40-year-old Unionist, who lived at The Chase, Stopsley, and was Chairman of Stopsley Parish Council, began his business career 17 or 18 years previously, selling plait on his own account from a small shop in Cheapside Plait Hall. A year or so later he opened a warehouse in Cheapside and began building up a big export trade. He was not only selling plait to Australia but equipping factories out there with machinery and the Luton workers to operate it.
Although not then a dyer, he pioneered producing dyed lengths of plait for milliners, and had a great deal to do with the development of the Japanese Chip and Tagel hats industry. He was early in the field as an importer of these goods.
Around 1906, when established in modern premises in Guildford Street, he handed the management of the business over to his brother, Charles, and acquired the business of Mr James Ellis in Regent Street to turn his attention to the dyeing and bleaching of straw plaits and the making of felt bodies for the felt hat trade. Later he built huge warehouses on the New Street and Regent Street frontages.
A new boiler house was added early in 1914, not for the generation of power but to provide the steam required in the various processes of dyeing, drying, felt proofing etc. He was the first dyer to installed patented drying chambers for dyed plait.
He also installed a quantity of felting machinery purely for demonstration purposes to Luton manufacturers and for the instruction of local labour in the finishing processes carried out in Luton factories.
A native of Luton, Councillor Hubbard was born in Alma Street in 1874, the son of Mr Owen Hubbard, who had been manager of of Messrs Welch and Sons, Upper George Street. He was associated with the Union Chapel and in 1899 married Emily Louisa Jeffs, the only daughter of jeweller and former chapel organist, the late Mr John T. Jeffs.
[Stewart Hubbard, who became a Freeman of the City of London and was a Forage Controller for the Government during the Great War, died in the USA on November 14th, 1947. His grandson, Mr John B. S. Hubbard, now living in Bournemouth, tells us that although there is a family monument at Luton General Cemetery in Rothesay Road, Mr Hubbard died from cancer at the Decker Munson Hospital in Traverse City, Michegan, and was cremated. His ashes were scattered on a hill overlooking Elk Lake, Antrim County, at his daughter's home, Cedar End.]