Hats off to museum for Bob Hope’s Luton straw boater!

The Luton News story in 1953
The Luton News story in 1953

A Luton straw boater presented to world famous entertainer Bob Hope has been added to the hat collection at Wardown Museum.

The boater was given to the London-born American comedian as a gift from the Mayor of Luton, Alderman H. C. Janes, in September 1953.

Complete with the original brown cardboard delivery box, still showing its handwritten inscription, ‘Mr Bob Hope, London Palladium’, it has been described as “an extremely rare object and an amazing find”.

The Herald&Post’s sister paper, the Luton News, published a photo on October 6, 1953 of Hope wearing the hat while visiting his Aunt Lucy in Hitchin.

He said it was a perfect fit and told the paper: “If Crosby could only see me now.”

The boater, believed to have been made by the company H. Briars, of May Street, Luton, was bought by the Friends of Luton Museums and is now on display. It adds to the museum’s collection of 1,000 hats, including Luton boaters worn by Maurice Chevalier in the 1930s, Bud Flanagan of The Crazy Gang in the 1960s and Luton Town FC captain Syd Owen in 1959.

The museum would now like to add more celebrity boaters to the collection, like those worn by Frankie Vaughan and Elton John, provided they were made by Luton hat manufacturers.