Call for every child in Luton to be given a book about town's history as part of ten-year heritage strategy

The strategy is due to be considered tonight (Monday)

Tuesday, 17th August 2021, 12:55 pm

A ten-year heritage strategy for Luton is due to be considered by the borough council's executive tonight (Monday, August 16) amid a call for every child in the town to be given a book about its history.

There should be more focus on women's history, the LGBT community and the town's musical heritage, according to Liberal Democrat Wigmore councillor Peter Chapman.

"The best thing the council ever did to educate people on the heritage happened in the 1960s," he told the local authority's overview and scrutiny board.

Call for every child in Luton to be given a book about town's history as part of ten-year heritage strategy

"When Luton became a county borough James Dyer wrote the book The Story of Luton," he explained.

"When we left primary school we were each given this book. As far as I'm aware, this has never been updated to cover the influx of people who've come to make Luton their home and what's happened to this town since 1964.

"I don't know whether we could get a grant for someone to rewrite that book, which was previously paid for by Vauxhall Motors.

"Is there some way every child in Luton could be given the story of the town you live in updated," he asked.

Head of policy, strategy and partnerships Sinead McNamara said: "This links into the Luton 2040 vision and the inclusive economy strategy, transforming lives through Arts, culture and heritage.

"It's a town-wide strategy. We're reliant on other partners, the Culture Trust Luton and the University of Bedfordshire, to help us deliver this between 2021 and 2031.

"We've had positive feedback from National Lottery Heritage Fund. As we move into the implementation plan we submit a large scale bid into it in November."

Councillor Chapman wondered whether the football club's plans for Power Court could include a heritage museum.

"There are a couple of areas to look at one of which is women's history," he said. "There was a real culture of women in the hat factories.

"Luton has always had a history of having far more women than men, perhaps not now but certainly for hundreds of years.

"The other thing is the history of the LGBT community. Luton has had a very long history of LGBT community, a traceable history, which could be investigated further.

"And it worries me we've had a strong musical heritage which is disappearing. Luton is the only place in the south of England to ever have a brass band which won the world championship.

"The archives which went with that brass band, all the music, I don't know what happened to them.

"The same for the Luton Girls Choir," he added. "It was probably the most famous choir internationally in the 1950s.

"Again people just don't know about it. I'm not criticising, but there are some other areas we could consider."

Heritage enabler Lilly Smith replied: "That's the first time I've heard we had an award winning brass band.

"On the women's history and the LGBT community, we've a development stage and interpretation planning.

"There's a strategic priority of embedding diversity in all our narrative, so that should be picked up there.

"I did mention Luton Girls Choir in the strategy. I've been talking to 2020 Developments Luton and Hatters' Heritage.

"They intend to have something in the stadium. Can we build on that? Again our planning needs to address that.

"I can't promise the idea about the book can be delivered, but we can consider it at the planning stage."