Help gallery to picture Luton’s past

View of Stopsley showing the construction of Jansel House, 1960
View of Stopsley showing the construction of Jansel House, 1960

Have you got images of Luton’s past lurking at the back of a cupboard?

Luton’s new contemporary art gallery, Departure Lounge, is launching a new exhibition next month of photos showing how Luton developed after the end of the Second World War.

The gallery is currently hosting photographer James Smith’s exhibition Luton Overlay. James is fascinated by Britain’s post war landscape and for his exhibition has photographed Luton and other towns in the South East, with the aim of celebrating the remarkable innovations and the utopian spirit, which characterised post war reconstruction.

With this in mind, Departure Lounge is inviting Lutonians and people from other towns in the South East to submit their own photographs for an exhibition of ‘found’ photography, for an exhibition called From The Shoebox.

Gallery curator Matthew Shaul said: “Do you have old, or newer, colour or black and white photographs of your town hidden in old files, albums or boxes?

“If so this is the time to take another look at them. We are interested in photographs which show the development of the cityscapes in Luton and other towns starting immediately after the end of the Second World War, but also how people lived in them.

“For example, do you have pictures of Chapel Street before the construction of the viaduct? Or of George Street before the Mall, or of Kenilworth Road football ground in the 1950s, or of Christmas festivities at Vauxhall Motors in the 1950s, 60s, 70s or 80s?

“If so we’d like to consider them for our exhibition.”

The photos will be selected by James Smith and Matthew Shaul, who added: “The exhibition will bring a new and contemporary interpretation to photography made locally in the post war era.

“It will, we hope, ask searching questions about how Lutonians and others from the region see and have seen their towns, and how they might see them in the future.”

To submit your photographs, email, or visit the gallery, which is above Betfred in George Street and is open on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 2–6pm.