Cat no. 6621

As We Were - Luton 1926-1976

Running time1:22:02 Colour Silent 1926-1976 Luton, Bedfordshire

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A compilation film celebrating Luton's 50 years as a municipal borough.

The event includes a parade through the town and dancing and gymnastic displays by over a thousand school children. In the same year there is a visit from the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VIII).

The celebrations for the Silver Jubilee of King George V in 1935 feature community groups, a carnival parade, a cricket match, a water cannon fight, a motor bike 'destruction derby', a fairground (complete with orchestra and couples ballroom dancing), and a firework display.

The newsreel for the official opening of the town hall by the Duke of Kent in 1936 shows some of the architectural detail of the new building.

In 1941 the Mayor of Luton launches 'Luton Warship Week' in a stirring appeal, using superimposed rolling text over a background of the iconic new town hall. A newsreel from 1948 records the sombre crowds watching the memorial parade honouring members of Luton's police force who lost their lives in WW2.

The Coronation year of 1953 sees the town hall and centre decorated with bunting and flowers; stages and seating are erected for outdoor performances. There are thanksgiving services in a church and the city centre. Children perform country dancing and there is a swimming gala. A large scale pageant, 'Merrie England' is performed by a lake. A parade, a fairground and fireworks complete the celebrations.

1960-62. Shots of the old, cramped and crowded Central Library and its transfer to the new, purpose-built facility. There is an official opening by HM Queen Elizabeth II, accompanied by HRH Prince Philip, who meet local dignitaries and inspect the new building.

1964 marks the awarding of County Borough status - a road sign shows the new crest. Tree planting, parades and fireworks celebrate the occasion. 1960-1974 illustrates the pace of change in Luton as old structures are demolished (the Grand Theatre, cooling towers, shops) and new ones rise up (multi-storey car park, offices and residential tower blocks); the site of the old market is moved to the new Arndale centre.

The 1976 Centenary year features a cycle race through Luton town centre and street celebrations.

Featured Buildings:

Vauxhall Motors; Bedford Trucks; Offices of the Luton News, Pictorial and Telegraph; Luton Arndale Centre; Luton Town Hall; Luton Central Library (old and new)

Eastern Arts Council

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