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Luton shown within Bedfordshire
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Region||East of England|
|• Governing body||Luton Borough Council|
|• Mayor||Cllr Naseem Ayub|
|• MPs||Kelvin Hopkins (L)|
Gavin Shuker (L)
|• Total||16.74 sq mi (43.35 km2)|
|• Density||12,820/sq mi (4,951/km2)|
|• Ethnicity||54.6% White|
4.2% Mixed Race
|• Summer (DST)||British Summer Time|
Luton (// (listen) LOOT-ən) is a large town, borough and unitary authority area of Bedfordshire, England. The town is situated on the River Lea in the south east of the island of Great Britain. It is located about 30 miles (50 km) northwest of London. Earliest settlements in the Luton area can be traced back over 250,000 years, but the town’s foundation dates to the sixth century as a Saxon outpost on the River Lea, from which Luton derives its name.
Luton was for many years famous for hat-making, and also had a large Vauxhall Motors factory. Car production at the plant began in 1905 and continued until 2002. Production of commercial vehicles continues, and the head office of Vauxhall Motors is still in the town.
Today Luton is notable for London Luton Airport, opened in 1938, which is one of Britain's major airports. The University of Bedfordshire is also based in the town. Luton is home to Luton Town Football Club, whose history includes several spells in the top flight of the English league as well as a Football League Cup triumph in 1988. They play at Kenilworth Road, their home since 1905. Luton Carnival held the day before the last Monday in May, a public holiday, is the largest one-day carnival in Europe.[n 1] Luton Hoo is an English country house and estate and grade I listing building.
Luton's earliest recorded name is Lygea-Byrig, where Lygea means 'a river in an open field' and Byrid means 'a town'. The name shown as gradually converting to Luton over the centuries with 'Lvton' being the used in the charter of Charles I
In 1121 Robert, 1st Earl of Gloucester started work on St Mary's Church in the centre of the town. The work was completed by 1137. A motte-and-bailey castle which gives its name to the modern Castle Street was built in 1139 but demolished by 1154.
The town grew: in 1801 the population was 3,095, but by 1850 it was over 10,000 and by 1901 it was almost 39,000.
In 1907, Vauxhall Motors opened the largest car plant in the United Kingdom in Luton, during the Second World War, it built Churchill tanks as part of the war effort. Despite heavy camouflage, the factory made Luton a target for the Luftwaffe and the town suffered a number of air raids. 107 died and there was extensive damage to the town (over 1,500 homes were damaged or destroyed).
The original town hall was destroyed in 1919 during Peace Day celebrations at the end of the First World War. Local people, including many ex-servicemen, were unhappy with unemployment and had been refused the use of a local park to hold celebratory events. They stormed the town hall, setting it alight (see Luton Town Hall). A replacement building was completed in 1936.
Luton Airport opened in 1938, owned and operated by the council. It's now one of the largest employers in the area.
The pre-war years, were something of an economic boom for Luton, as new industries grew and prospered. New private and council housing was built in the 1920s and 1930s, with Luton starting to incorporate nearby villages Leagrave, Limbury and Stopsley between 1928 and 1933.
Post-war, a number of substantial estates of council housing were built, notably at Farley Hill, Stopsley, Limbury, Marsh Farm and Leagrave (Hockwell Ring). The Marsh Farm area of the town was developed in the mid to late 1960s as a large council housing estate, mostly to house the overspill population from London. However, the estate gained a reputation for high levels of crime, poverty and unemployment, which culminated in a riot on the estate in July 1992 and another more serious riot three years later.
The town is situated within the historic county of Bedfordshire, but since 1997 Luton has been an administratively independent unitary authority. The town remains part of Bedfordshire for ceremonial purposes. Luton is within the East of England European Parliament constituency.
There are 48 councillors on Luton Borough Council representing 19 wards, with the next elections due in May 2015. The Council is controlled by the Labour group, who have 36 Local Councillors compared to the Liberal Democrats with eight seats and the Conservative Party with four.
The electoral wards in Luton are:
In 1876 the town council was granted its own coat of arms. The wheatsheaf was used on the crest to represent agriculture and the supply of straw used in the local hatting industry (the straw-plaiting industry was brought to Luton by a group of Scots under the protection of Sir John Napier of Luton Hoo). The bee is traditionally the emblem of industry and the hive represents the straw-plaiting industry for which Luton was famous. The rose is from the arms of the Napier family, whereas the thistle is a symbol for Scotland. An alternative suggestion is that the rose was a national emblem, and the thistle represents the Marquess of Bute, who formerly owned the Manor of Luton Hoo.
Luton is located in a break in the eastern part of the Chiltern Hills. The Chilterns are a mixture of chalk from the Cretaceous period (about 66 – 145 million years ago) and deposits laid at the southernmost points of the ice sheet during the last ice age (the Warden Hill area can be seen from much of the town).
The source of the River Lea, part of the Thames Valley drainage basin, is in the Leagrave area of the town. The Great Bramingham Wood surrounds this area. It is classified as ancient woodland; records mention the wood at least 400 years ago.
Luton has a temperate marine climate, like much of the British Isles, with generally light precipitation throughout the year. The weather is very changeable from day to day and the warming influence of the Gulf Stream makes the region mild for its latitude. The average total annual rainfall is 698 mm (27.5 in) with rain falling on 117 days of the year.
The local climate around Luton is differentiated somewhat from much of South East England due to its position in the Chiltern Hills, meaning it tends to be 1–2 degrees Celsius cooler than the surrounding towns – often flights at Luton airport, lying 160 m (525 ft) above sea level, will be suspended when marginal snow events occur, while airports at lower elevations, such as Heathrow, at 25 m (82 ft) above sea level, continue to function. An example of this is shown in the photograph to the right, the snowline being about 100 m (328 ft) above sea level. Absolute temperature extremes recorded at Rothamsted Research Station, 5 miles (8 km) south south east of Luton town centre and at a similar elevation range from −17.0 °C (1.4 °F) in December 1981 and −16.7 °C (1.9 °F) in January 1963 to 36.0 °C (96.8 °F) in August 2003 and 33.8 °C (92.8 °F) in August 1990 and July 2006. Records for Rothamsted date back to 1901.
|Climate data for Rothamsted 1971–2000 (Weather station 5 miles (8 km) to the south of Luton)|
|Average high °C (°F)||6.3
|Average low °C (°F)||0.9
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||69.5
|Mean monthly sunshine hours||55.2||70.6||107.3||146.7||194.7||190.2||203.4||196.5||142.2||112.2||70.2||48.1||1,537.2|
|Source: Met Office|
The United Kingdom Census 2011 showed that the borough had a population of 203,201, a 10.2% increase from the previous census in 2001, when Luton was the 27th largest settlement in the United Kingdom. In 2011, 46,756 were aged under 16, 145,208 were 16 to 74, and 11,237 were 75 or over. The latest population figure for the borough is 214,700 (mid-2017 est.).
Local inhabitants are known as Lutonians.
Luton has seen several waves of immigration. In the early part of the 20th century, there was internal migration of Irish and Scottish people to the town. These were followed by Afro-Caribbean and Asian immigrants. More recently immigrants from other European Union countries have made Luton their home. As a result of this Luton has a diverse ethnic mix, with a significant population of Asian descent, mainly Pakistani 29,353 (14.4%) and Bangladeshi 13,606 (6.7%).
Since the 2011 census, Luton has become one of three white British-minority towns in the United Kingdom along with Leicester and Slough although the town still has a white majority when non-British whites such as the Irish and Eastern Europeans are included. 81% of the population of Luton define themselves as British.
|Luton: Ethnicity: 2011 Census|
|Asian or Asian British||60,952||30.0|
|Black or Black British||19,909||9.8|
|Other Ethnic Group||2,980||1.5|
|Religion not stated||12,373||6.1|
Luton's economy has, traditionally been focused on several different areas of industry including Car Manufacture, engineering and millinery. However, today, Luton is moving towards a service based economy mainly in the retail and the airport sectors, although there is still a focus on light industry in the town.
Notable firms with headquarters in Luton include:
Notable firms with offices in Luton include:
Of the town's working population (classified 16–74 years of age by the Office for National Statistics), 63% are employed. This figure includes students, the self-employed and those who are in part-time employment. 11% are retired, 8% look after the family or take care of the home and 5% are unemployed.
According to the Luton Borough Council, the principal employers in the town are:
|#||Employer||# of Employees|
|1||Luton Borough Council||8,000+|
|2||Luton and Dunstable University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust||4,000+|
|3||Aircraft Service International Group||1,000–1,999|
|3||Carlisle Security Services||1,000–1,999|
|9||University of Bedfordshire||1,000–1,999|
Luton is situated less than 30 miles north of the centre of London, giving it good links with the City and other parts of the country via the motorway network. Luton has three railway stations: [[Luton railway station Leagrave, running from Brighton to Bedford and Luton Airport Parkway that are served by East Midlands Trains and Thameslink services. Luton is also home to London Luton Airport, one of the major feeder airports for London and the southeast. A network of bus services run by Arriva Shires & Essex, Grant Palmer Passenger Services and Centrebus serves the urban area of Luton and Dunstable, and in 2013 a bus rapid transit route opened, the Luton to Dunstable Busway, connecting the town with the Airport, Dunstable and Houghton Regis.
Luton is one of the main locations of the University of Bedfordshire. A large campus of the university is in Luton town centre, with a smaller campus based on the edge of town in Putteridge Bury, an old Victorian manor house. The other main campus of the university is located in Bedford.
Luton's schools and colleges had also been earmarked for major investment in the government scheme Building Schools for the Future programme, which intends to renew and refit buildings in institutes across the country. Luton is in the 3rd wave of this long term programme with work intending to start in 2009. Some schools were rebuilt before the programme was scrapped by the coalition government.
There are 98 educational institutes in Luton – seven nurseries, 56 primary schools (9 voluntary-aided, 2 Special Requirements), 13 secondary schools (1 voluntary-aided, 1 Special Requirements), four further educational institutes and four other educational institutes.
The town contains 92 listed buildings.
The procession starts at Wardown Park and makes its way down New Bedford Road, around the town centre via St George's Square, back down New Bedford Road and finishes back at Wardown Park. There are music stages and stalls around the town centre and at Wardown Park.
Luton is home to the UK Centre for Carnival Arts (UKCCA), the country's first purpose-built facility of its kind.
The festival celebrating the patron saint of Ireland and organised by Luton Irish Forum, St Patrick, is held on the weekend nearest to 17 March. In its 15th year in 2014, the festival includes a parade, market stalls and music stands as well as Irish themed events.
The first Luton Mela took place in August 2000 and has developed into one of the most significant and well attended south Asian cultural events in the eastern region.
Luton Council's strategic vision for the Arts, and Cultural and Creative industries includes the plan to bid for City of Culture Status. This plan includes a pilot year with the theme of Peace Riots starting in Spring 2019. Events will be published on the Luton.Events website.
Luton is home to the Library Theatre, a 238-seat theatre located on the 3rd floor of the town's Central Library. The theatre's programme consists of local amateur dramatic societies, pantomime, children's theatre (on Saturday mornings) and one night shows of touring theatre companies.
Luton is also home to the Hat Factory, originally as its name suggests, this arts centre was in fact a real hat factory. The Hat Factory is a combined arts venue in the centre of Luton. It opened in 2003 and since then has been the area’s main provider of contemporary theatre, dance and music. The venue provides live music, club nights, theatre, dance, films, children's activities, workshops, classes and gallery exhibitions.
In the TV series One Foot in the Grave there are often references to places within Luton. The script-writer David Renwick was brought up in the town. The town was mentioned several times in the sketch show Monty Python's Flying Circus. A 1976 episode of the sci-fi series Space: 1999 was called "The Rules of Luton". The comedian Eric Morecambe often made references to Luton Town FC.
Luton has a variety of parks ranging from district park, neighbourhood park, local open space and leisure gardens.
In the 1880s, the land now known as Brantwood Park was an open field on the south side of Dallow. The Site was purchased by the Town Council in 1894 for use as a recreation ground and there is reference to it as ‘West Ward Recreation Ground in a 1911 year book. It is reported as being one of the first two recreation grounds in Luton; The other being East Ward Recreation Ground, now known as Manor Road Park.
Kidney Wood is ancient semi-natural woodland on the southern edge of Luton that has been identified as a County Wildlife Site. The wood was purchased by Luton Borough Council as an area of public open space. The council seeks to maintain and enhance the nature conservation interest of Kidney Wood, including its habitats while allowing public access for informal recreation including play. Kidney Wood includes a way marked nature trail and play dells.
Sir Julius Wernher purchased the Luton Hoo Estate and the Manor of Luton from Madame de Falbe around 1903. He carried out substantial renovation works to the Manor and grounds. On his death in 1912 the estate passed to Lady Ludlow. Lady Ludlow presented the Park to the people of Luton on 12 June 1920, in memory of her son Alex Piggott Werner, who was killed in action during the First World War. The site is officially named Luton Hoo Memorial Park. Council records state that the area was purchased under the Statutory Powers of the Public Health Acts.
Stockwood Park is a large municipal park near Junction 10 of the M1. Located in the park is Stockwood Discovery Centre a free museum that houses Luton local social history, archaeology and geology. The collection of rural crafts and trades held at Stockwood Discovery Centre was amassed by Thomas Wyatt Bagshawe, who was a notable local historian and a leading authority on folk life. The park is an athletics track, an 18-hole golf course, several rugby pitches and areas of open space. The park was originally the estate and grounds to Stockwood house, which was demolished in 1964. The park includes the Mossman Collection of horse-drawn vehicles, which is the largest and most significant vehicle collection of its kind in the country, including originals from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries.
Wardown Park is situated on the River Lea in Luton. The park has sporting facilities, is home to the Wardown Park Museum and contains formal gardens. The park is located between Old Bedford Road and the A6, New Bedford Road and is within walking distance of the town centre. The park houses Wardown House Museum and Gallery, previously known as Luton Museum and Art Gallery, in a large Victorian mansion. The museum collection focusses on the traditional crafts and industry of Luton and Bedfordshire, notably lace-making and hat-making. There are samples of local lace from as early as the 17th century.
The main shopping area in Luton is centred on the Mall Luton. Built in the 1960s/1970s and opened as an Arndale Centre, construction of the shopping centre led to the demolition of a number of the older buildings in the town centre including the Plait Halls (a Victorian covered market building with an iron and glass roof). Shops and businesses in the remaining streets, particularly in the roads around Cheapside and in High Town, have been in decline ever since. George Street, on the south side of the Arndale, was pedestrianised in the 1990s.
The shopping centre had some construction and re-design work done to it over the 2011/12 period and now has a new square used for leisure events, as well as numerous new food restaurants such as Toby's Carvery and Costa Coffee.
Contained within the main shopping centre is the market, which contains butchers, fishmongers, fruit and veg, hairdressers, tattoo parlours, ice cream, flower stall, T-shirt printing and the markets original sewing shop for clothes alterations and repairs as well as eating places.
Another major shopping area is Bury Park where there are shops catering to Luton's ethnic minorities.
Luton has a wide range of sports clubs. It's the home town of Luton Town Football Club who currently play in the Football League 1 and whose history includes several spells in the top flight of the English league as well as a Football League Cup triumph in 1988. They play at Kenilworth Road, their home since 1905. Their nickname, "The Hatters", dates back to when Luton had a substantial millinery industry.
Bedfordshire County Cricket Club is based at Wardown Park and is one of the county clubs which make up the Minor Counties in the English domestic cricket structure, representing the historic county of Bedfordshire, while Luton Rugby Club who play in London 1 North league.
|Country||Place||County / District / Region / State||Date|
|Germany||Bergisch Gladbach||North Rhine-Westphalia||1956|
People who were born in Luton or are associated with the town.
|Look up luton in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
|Wikisource has the text of the 1921 Collier's Encyclopedia article Luton.|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Luton.|