Luton News -keeping you informed for 120 years

LUTON’S first newspaper is believed to have been the catchily titled Luton Miscellany, Domestic Treasury and General Advertiser, published as a monthly in 1854.

Saturday, 14th July 2012, 11:02 am

This was followed by the weekly the Luton Times and Advertiser and then the Luton Reporter. Both papers were Conservative and competed with each other to gain readers who were mainly Liberal.

In 1891, Richard Gibbs, who owned St Albans paper the Hertfordshire Advertiser, seized the opportunity to start a rival Liberal paper in Luton at half the price of the other two. He sent two young men, Alec Gibbs, his nephew, and George Myers to Luton to collect the news for the paper, which was printed at St Albans.

The success of the Luton News, for that was its name, was instantaneous. Newsboys were released from school early enough to pick up the papers at publishing time – 4pm on Thursday – and they ran shouting through the town’s streets.

For an hour the rest of Luton stood still as the Luton News was read in shops and hat factories and on street corners.

The rest of the day was spent discussing the latest local scandals, for all Lutonians had a great interest in each others’ lives. No change there then!

Weekly circulation grew to 50,000 and the paper’s printworks and offices on the corner of Manchester Street and Alma Street, pictured above left in September 1962, with Cresta House under construction in the background, were a landmark in the town.

Also the home of sister papers the Tuesday Pictorial, the Saturday Telegraph and sports paper the Green ‘Un, the display windows were full of photos from recent editions that readers could order.

Courting couples arranged to meet under the Luton News clock, clearly visible in the picture.

In those days, the Luton News was a broadsheet paper which came out on Thursday, later changing to the present Wednesday. The THURSDAY IS NEWS DAY sign, second left, on the New Bedford Road railway bridge certainly got the message across. It was not uncommon for lorries and buses to get stuck under this bridge and the man with the extremely long ruler was sent out in October 1948 to check the height restriction.

But the Luton News outgrew its building and in 1964 its publishers, Home Counties Newspapers, which had titles throughout Beds, Herts and Bucks, and later London, opened brand new headquarters in Castle Street, Luton.

Passers-by would stop next to the glass-sided building to watch their local paper roll of the press.

It was the paper’s home until the mid ‘80s when staff moved to offices in Alma Street, then Telford Way, followed by Church Street and finally the current building, Media House, above.

The picture, top, shows how the site on the corner of Upper George Street and Stuart Street looked in November 1957 when the building that stood there was demolished. Its replacement was occupied by Norwich Union Assurance for many years.