Monday, 13 November 2017

King George V Visits Luton

Women munitions workers at George Kent Ltd, 1916 [Z1306/75/17/20]
(Caption reads: "We are helping those who are helping us")

Tuesday 13th November 1917: The King has today honoured the town of Luton with an unexpected visit. The news that he would be making an informal visit was announced on Monday afternoon. He was met by the Mayor and the Town Clerk and paid a visit to various works including those of Messrs. George Kent Ltd. The King arrived shortly before 11.00 a.m. in the Royal car and left between 12.30 and 1.00 p.m. He is reported to be looking alert and fit, with no signs of his age except a little grey in his beard. He wore the uniform of a field marshal, with a black crepe band on his left sleeve as a symbol of mourning. The processes carried out in the first works visited so interested the King that he stayed for twice the expected time.[1]

At George Kent’s works the King was greeted with enthusiastic cheers. Again, he showed a keen interest in the work of the various departments. A number of discharged soldiers now working at Kent’s were drawn up in two ranks at the foot of the stairs, where they stood to attention when the King approached. He was also saluted by the officers of the Kent’s Corps of Girl Guides. Violet Golding, a young munitions worker who recently received the Order of the British Empire for her bravery in returning to work after she lost two fingers in an explosion, was also presented to the King. In one of the workshops he asked a young girl “How many of those can you do in the course of a day?” She answered, “I don’t know, Sir. We don’t count. We just carry on.” The King replied, “Capital. What is required of us is that we should carry on to the best of our ability.”

The King thanked the Mayor for his trouble, asked him about the hat industry in the town, and was pleased to hear that it was busy with both straw and felt hats. As the Royal car left for London the route was lined with sightseers.

Source: Luton News 15th November 1917

[1] The works was not named, but it is thought likely that it was the National Fuse Filling Factory at Chaul End. 

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