The biggest controversy in Luton between the two World Wars arose over the trams.
With power provided by overhead electric cables, the town’s tramways opened in 1908 with three routes.
One was from the tram depot opposite Bailey Street, along Park Street, Market Hill, George Street, Manchester Street, Mill Street, Midland Road, High Town Road and Hitchin Road to Round Green.
Another was from Park Square along Market Hill, George Street, Upper George Street and Dunstable Road to where Kingsway is now.
In 1931 the council decided to sell the service to the Eastern National Omnibus Company. Lutonians were sharply divided, with some reluctant to see the transport rights go and the rest anxious to take the £64,000 cash on offer.
Many thought the trams were very cumbersome as by this time they were holding up traffic in the narrow streets.
The vital question was not, however, the trams but the transport rights. At the height of the rumpus, the Luton News was advocating selling , while its sister paper, the Saturday Telegraph, was opposed to it.
When the council finally agreed to the contract for sale, the Telegraph had the most effective poster the town ever saw, as it just said ‘SOLD’.
But the fight was not over as the transaction needed the consent of the Minister of Transport, who ruled that the council had taken over transport rights for all time and could not sell them.
So the council decided to scrap the trams and replace them with its own bus service.
The last trams ran in Luton on April 16, 1932.