Party time in Luton’s ‘Coronation Streets’ 53 years ago

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The Festival of Britain was a national exhibition held throughout the country in the summer of 1951. It was organised by the government to give Britons a feeling of recovery in the aftermath of the Second World War.

The festival also aimed to promote Great Britain’s contribution to science, technology, industrial design, architecture and the arts. The centrepiece was in London on the South Bank of the Thames, although festival celebrations were held in towns and cities across the country.

Luton staged an industrial exhibition in Wardown Park and friendly matches were played at Luton Town Football Club’s Kenilworth Road ground, with the Hatters beating Scottish team Ayr United 4-2 and Dutch side Schiedam VV 3-2.

Families in some of the town’s streets held parties outside their homes, and Luton News photographers were out and about covering many of them.

The one pictured here was in the Park Town area, whose streets resembled those that were later to be seen in the long-running TV soap Coronation Street.Much of the neighbourhood was demolished in the 1960s to make way for redevelopment centred around high-rise flats.

Essex Street was replaced by Essex Close and Essex Court, while the only echo of Dorset Street remains with one of the tower blocks being called Dorset Court.

Queen Square, which also disappeared, was the site of a school from 1857 to 1965. It lay between Cumberland Street and Chobham Street where Park Street Viaduct is now.