Our Town – Dunstable
Dunstable is a market town located in the Chiltern Hills. The town has a rich history and is surrounded by beautiful countryside.
Dunstable Downs, a well-known beauty spot, is a chalky escarpment a short distance from the town centre.
It is popular with kite flyers, paragliders and hang-gliders as well as being an ideal place to walk and take in breathtaking views over the Vale of Aylesbury. At the foot of the Downs, the London Gliding Club is a base for conventional gliding.
Also nearby are the peaceful surroundings of the Whipsnade Tree Cathedral , a garden laid out in the form of a cathedral to commemorate the dead of the First World War. Meanwhile the picturesque Totternhoe Knolls are the site of an ancient motte and bailey castle.
The town of Dunstable is dominated by the impressive Priory Church. In 1123 Henry 1st established a royal residence in the town in what is now the Royal Palace Lodge Hotel (formerly the Old Palace Lodge Hotel) on Church Street. The king used the lodge as a base for hunts in the local area.
The Dunstable Priory was founded in 1131 and was later the site of the divorce of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon, a significant event in the tumultuous events that led to the establishment of the Church of England. In 1290 Dunstable was one of twelve sites to erect a cross to recognise the progress of the funeral procession of Eleanor of Castile.
Recent Times in Dunstable
More recently, Dunstable has had a proud industrial heritage. Like its neighbour Luton, Dunstable was involved in the hat industry and in later years printing and motor vehicle industries moved to the town. The new Bedford Dunstable plant came into production in 1942 to support the British Army in the Second World War.
The town was also home to the Meteorological Office from 1940 – 1961. The DDay Landings were delayed by 24hrs on the advice of the weather forecasters based in Dunstable.
Dunstable had two train stations until 1965 when the line was closed by Dr Beecham. Now the town has a busway link which follows the route of the old railway line to Luton, providing a fast and easy link to the railway network and London Luton Airport.
Dunstable has a huge music history. The California Ballroom operated from 1960 to 1977 with groups such as the Rolling Stones, Four Tops, Jimi Hendrix appearing there. The Queensway Hall also made it mark in Dunstable music history with Blondie, Genesis and David Bowie and many more playing there.
Today Dunstable has become the home of service industries such as Amazon and Superdrug who occupy warehouses in the town.