By George! Famous film actress visits Luton Town Hall

Margaret Lockwood at Luton Town Hall in 1948
Margaret Lockwood at Luton Town Hall in 1948
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Many older readers will recognise the famous actress pictured entering Luton Town Hall 67 years ago, writes Geoff Cox.

And quite a few can probably name the photographer standing next to her as he’s the longest-serving Luton News cameraman in the paper’s 124-year history.

The film star is Margaret Lockwood, best remembered for major parts in melodramas in the years either side and during the Second World War.

She was one of the leading lights at Gainsborough Pictures along with Stewart Grainger and James Mason.

An attractive brunette, she specialised in playing treacherous, sexy heroines like the jealous vixen in The Man In Grey (1943) and the title role, a female highwayman, in The Wicked Lady (1945). The latter was made at the peak of her popularity and told the story of Lady Katherine Ferrers, who lived at 12th Century manor house Markyate Cell off the A5 south of Dunstable and is said to have led a secret life as a highwaywoman.

Just before the War, in 1938, Lockwood gave a fine performance in Alfred Hitchcock’s spy thriller The Lady Vanishes.

She came to Luton on February 16, 1948 to see the town at work and was greeted at the Town Hall by the mayor, Cllr W.J. Edwards, before visiting Skefko, Vauxhall and Electrolux and two cinemas – the Odeon in Dunstable Road and the Palace in Mill Street, whose manager, Mr S. Davey, had arranged the tour.

The photographer was George Gurney, who joined the Luton News in 1930 and retired in 1969. George and his trilby hat were well known around town as he covered thousands of events. We presume George was about to take pictures inside the Town Hall, with another lensman covering the visit outside.