The Hat Industry of Luton and its Buildings
    The Hat Industry of Luton and its Buildings large image 1
        Paperback / softback

        Publication Date

        15 Oct 2013


        This book is an introduction and guide to Luton's hatting industry and to the distinctive and varied character of its buildings.

        Main Summary

          Although perhaps best known today as the home of Vauxhall Motors, Luton’s industrial roots run much deeper. Long before it became associated with motor cars, Luton was the centre of ladies’ hat production in this country – a success founded upon the earlier regional industry of straw-plaiting. Many surrounding towns and villages fed into the industry and helped to make the region globally renowned. At its peak in the 1930s, the region was producing as many as 70 million hats in a single year; however, it entered a rapid decline following the Second World War from which it never recovered. This has left Luton, Dunstable and a number of other local towns with a challenging inheritance of neglected and decaying fragments of a once vital industry.

          This book is intended to be an introduction and guide to the area’s historical depth and to its distinctive and varied character, seeking to explain the development of the region as the centre of the hatting industry in the south and exploring the lives of the people working there during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.  The historic links between the surviving building stock and the hatting industry are assessed and the book highlights the significance of the surviving fabric and the potential of the historic environment within future conservation and regeneration plans.

          Additional Information


          Informed Conservation


          David Grech
          Katie Carmichael
          David McOmish

          Author Information

          Katie Carmichael is an investigator in the Cambridge office of English Heritage
          David McOmish is a Historic Environment Officer with English Heritage
          David Grech is a Historic Places Advisor with English Heritage

          Publishing Status




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            1 Introduction
            2 Historic and regional development
            The towns of the hat industry
            3 Straw plaiting
            Origins of the industry
            Child labour
            Economic and regional impact
            4 Hat manufacture and trade
            Manufacturing processes
            Economy and organisation
            Subsidiary industries
            Working conditions
            5 Buildings of the hat industry
            Small-scale industry
            Large-scale industry
            6 Conservation and the management of change
            Refences and further reading


              ... this worthwhile and highly informative book: Luton does have a valuable heritage which although not "pretty" or in some instances eventhat obvious, is nonetheless of considerable interest and one to be cherished.
              Chris Garrand
              SPAB, The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, Autumn 2014