As Luton gears up to commemorate the dramatic Peace Day Riots of 19 July 1919 this weekend, an interesting link between today and those momentous events has emerged.
One of the council’s senior officers on duty throughout the commemorations, Tony Ireland, is a direct descendant of a policeman who tried to prevent the burning down of the Town Hall.
100 years ago Tony’s great great grandfather, Chief Inspector Fred Janes of Luton Police, was on duty that notorious day. He was leading a team of police officers monitoring the procession and celebration event at Wardown Park when news of the rioting in the town centre reached him.
Together with his officers he was recalled to the Town Hall to quell the increasingly violent disturbances. Indeed so ugly had the situation become that Fred’s brother, Edward, who was a sergeant in the force, was seriously injured.
Tony is the council’s Strategic Service Manager for Public Protection and as such plays a significant role in working with Bedfordshire Police on a variety of events, most notably the Luton Carnival. His work is mostly behind the scenes, liaising with the different parties to ensure everything runs safely and smoothly with minimum disturbance to the general public. Unlike his ancestor he is yet to weigh in with whistle and truncheon!
In his role of Strategic Service Manager, Tony manages some of the same licensing functions as his ancestor, namely taxi licensing, cinematography, stage plays, alcohol and gaming. He even deals with the same legislation as Fred did when he was responsible for upholding the Town Police Clauses Act 1847 which covered taxis and road closures.
Tony said: “It’s not often I get to work on a project that carries such personal significance for me. I will certainly take some time out in my busy schedule over the next few days to reflect upon my link with the past. 100 hundred years on I am proud to hold the same licensing responsibilities my great-great-grandfather held. Things have changed in policing and local authorities since then but it is great to think that I continue the heritage for this public protection work in Luton.”
We've been keeping an eye on the weather for tomorrow's spectacular #PeoplePowerPassion main event at 9pm. If it's raining, we can move the main event to Saturday night at 9pm instead. Keep checking back on this website for further updates.