Rank or Title
Date of Birth
Date of Death
5 Jul 1918
Place of Birth
World War I Address
Place of Death
Soldier or Civilian
At 5.30 on the evening of July 5th, 1918, one of Luton's prominent businessmen, Mr Walter Thomas Lye, died at his home at Leagrave Hall. The head of the Luton bleaching, dyeing and chemical firm of Messrs T. Lye & Sons, he was aged 61 and left a widow (Nancy), one son (Ernest B. Lye) and one daughter (Gladys).
He and his family had narrowly escaped from Germany at the start of the First World War, catching the last train allowed out of Hamburg to Flushing, in Holland. They had been on a cruise along the Norwegian coast.
Walter was the son of the late Thomas Lye who came to Luton from Yorkshire in 1830, where he had been connected with the straw plaiting industry in the village of Kirkby Malzeard, near Ripon. He started the Luton business which played an important part in the town's staple industry during the late 19th century in Guildford Street. He then opened his factory in New Bedford Road in 1857.
Walter, who was born in Luton in 1857, assumed control of the company on the death of his father. He was a resident in the borough until an illness contracted while travelling abroad caused him to seek the then country air of Leagrave.
He was for many years a director of the Luton Gas Company and Luton Water Company, and a magistrate on the Luton and County Bench. He had also represented Barton on Bedfordshire County Council for about ten years, and was a member of the county education committee.
His other public positions included the chairmanship of the Caddington school managers, a member of the Leagrave managers and a former chairman of Leagrave Parish Council for a number of years.
He had been a lifelong Wesleyan Methodist, connected with the Waller Street church, and was a member of the National Liberal Club, the Cocoa Tree Club and the Royal Automobile Club.
Walter Lye was buried at Luton General Cemetery, Rothesay Road, on Tuesday, July 9th. A private service at Leagrave Hall, conducted by the Rev E. Lightwood Smith (Superintendent of Waller Street Wesleyan Circuit), preceded the journey of the cortege to the cemetery. At the junction of Leagrave Road and Dunstable Road the funeral procession was joined by about 140 men and 40 women employees of Lye & Sons to continue to Rothesay Road.