Luton’s Hat industry is significantly 500 years, and since then it is a symbol of recognition
HISTORY OF LUTON HATS
According to historians and scholars, the industry of hats in Luton first came into being when Mary, the Queen of Scots, from Scotland bought herself some plaiters while her stay in Lorraine, France in 1552. She intentionally ordered the plaiters so that she could enlighten her locals with straw plaiting and crafting back in Scotland.
Upon her arrival, she spent little time in the area and left for Luton, England with her Song King James I for permanent settlement. At Luton, she and her lad were catered by Sir Robert Napier of Luton Hoo, who was a renowned English Merchant. Contrary to this story, a very few scholars have denied this origin of Luton Hats but not confirmed.
FIRST CENTRE OF STRAW PLAITING
Despite the intriguing story of Mary and Robert, there is currently no evidence found as yet that could shed some light on this story and therefore, it becomes weak for literature experts, historians, and scholars to digest the fact that the first centre of straw plaiting was Dunstable, not Luton.
There also raises a question of when or why there was a need of Hat industry in Bedfordshire, but it is quite evident from the fact that it’s very close to London, the capital of England which will also provide wheat-straw to hat enthusiasts.
THE MAKING OF STRAW HATS
Confirmed sources of foundation relate us that the making of straw hats and bonnets began in the late years of the 17 th century when various factories were established in Bedfordshire andHertfordshire. One of the fascinating events linked to Luton hats is the petition of 1689 filed in the Parliament against wearing of woollen headwear.
Surprisingly, around 14,000 people living in Luton and Dunstable earned their bread by making straw hats after this bill. The 17 th, 18 th, and 19 th were booming centuries for Luton hats.
LUTON HATS & WARDOWN PARK MUSEUM
Wardown Park Museum has secured the heritage and culture of Hats by keeping more than 700 Luton hats starting from the 1700s. The museum displays hats made of straw plaiting, fabric, and felt hats.
The collection showcases hats that represent different occupations such as hats used during work, hats for fashion, casual hats for men, women and children.
HATS OFF TO LUTON
Thousands of people migrated to Luton to embark the prosperous ship of Luton Hats, in which most of them were girls. This quantity of women migration could be used as evidence to support the fact that Mary, the Queen of Scots did bring straw plaiting to Britain as most of her students were females.
Luton Hat faced its first decline in the 1930s when most of the fashionwear was replaced with new clothing and headwear was not worn as part of the garment. There are few old shops in Luton that still sell famous Luton Hats, but most of it is in the museums to portray Luton’s industrial struggle.