How times have changed

THE photo of Park Street, Luton, in 1949, featured on the Yesteryear page four weeks ago, showed how very different the road was then to how it looks today.

And here’s another remarkable transformation – this time in Bury Park where Dunstable Road meets Leagrave Road. The main picture was taken in October 1963 when the Bury Park branch of the Co-op was still open.

After the store closed and the building was pulled down, the triangular piece of land on which it stood lay neglected for many years. It was eventually replaced by Nadeem Plaza (inset), which opened in May 2008.

Entrepreneur Mohammed Nadeem was the man behind the multi-purpose project, which houses a cafe, shops, flats and offices and features a penthouse boardroom with panoramic views of Bury Park and beyond.

Self-made millionaire Nadeem appeared on BBC TV’s Inside Out programme in 2010 after setting up his own version of The Apprentice to encourage local young people to use their potential. The programme referred to him as Luton’s answer to Alan Sugar.

Bury Park takes its name from Bury Farm, which was near to where Kenilworth Road is now. An estate was built on the farm fields and the first houses were occupied in 1882. Church school halls were opened in 1895, Bury Park United Reformed Church was built in 1903 and the Luton Industrial Co-operative Society Ltd opened its general store at the Dunstable Road/Leagrave Road intersection in 1906.

Before moving to its present ground in Kenilworth Road, Luton Town Football Club played home games on a field that became the site of the Odeon cinema (1938-83), which was later a bingo club and is now a church.

The character of Dunstable Road altered with the coming of trams in 1908. Houses were turned into shops and their front gardens became paved forecourts.

Traffic has long been a problem in the area. In the 1920s, complaints were made that horses and carts were causing obstructions by stopping at a water trough at the junction of Dunstable Road and Leagrave Road. For some years the junction was covered by constables on point duty.

Bury Park’s large Muslim community has grown since the 1970s and Luton Central Mosque in Westbourne Road, built in 1982, was one of the first purpose-built mosques in Britain.