Luton starts people’s archive to capture its hidden history

Picture: Luton Irish Forum.

The newly launched Luton Heritage Forum are looking for memories, photos and stories to create a people’s archive.

The volunteer organisation is looking to capture the town’s “hidden history” through the new website.

Chairman Paul Hammond told The Irish World: “As Lutonians, it is important that we don’t forget our collective past and how our town developed and thrived.

“Luton was built on industry and immigration – and that is something we should be incredibly proud of.

“The Irish community is one of several migrant communities that have established themselves in the town and made a great contribution.

Chairman Paul Hammond.

“What we want to do is, before all of those photos are lost, we want to capture the stories of the pioneers who first came over.

“We want to capture those and to build the story of the modern day Lutonian.

“It’s really important that we get some of those stories and some of the bigger picture of some of the struggles they faced and that they overcame.

“The website is in a way of harnessing new technology to bring those stories to light.”

The website features stories about migrants from Ireland and have worked with Luton Irish Forum to publish a brief history of the Irish in Luton explaining how Irish immigrants came in their thousands to work on motorway construction and in factories including Vauxhall Motors.

“Luton is well-known for its hat industry and airport, but the town is often misunderstood and much of Luton’s history remains hidden.”

Paul also pointed out the town has a rich history of protest and processions that makes it so important that “future inhabitants of our town know the real people’s history of Luton”.

“That’s what we were doing when we worked with Noelette and the Luton Irish Forum to be able to get that first story out there but we’re sure that there’s many others out there and we’re very keen to capture those and give them a platform.”

The website is funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

If you would like to reach out to the Luton Heritage Forum, you can email contact@lutonheritageforum.org or click here.

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