Luton is a town and unitary authority with borough status, in Bedfordshire. At the 2011 census, the Luton built-up area subdivision had a population of 211,228 and its built-up area, including the adjacent towns of Dunstable and Houghton Regis, had a population of 258,018. It is the most populous town in the county, 18 miles (29 km) from the County Towns of Hertford, 20 miles (32 km) from Bedford and 29 miles (47 km) from the Capital, London.
Luton was, for many years, widely known for hatmaking and also had a large Vauxhall Motors factory. Car production at the plant began in 1905 and continued until the plant’s closure in 2002. Production of commercial vehicles continues – and the head office of Vauxhall Motors was in the town for many years, but relocated in 2019 to the village of Chalton, Bedfordshire on the northern border of the Borough of Luton.
Luton Town Football Club, nicknamed the Hatters, due to the town’s connection to hatmaking, has had several spells in the top flight of the English league as well as a Football League Cup triumph in 1988. They play at Kenilworth Road – their home since 1905.
Bedfordshire County Cricket Club is based at Wardown Park and is one of the county clubs which make up the Minor Counties in the English domestic cricket structure, representing the historic county of Bedfordshire. Luton Rugby Club are a local rugby union club based on Newlands Road, by the M1 motorway just outside Stockwood Park, who play in London 1 North. Speedway racing was once staged at Luton Stadium from 1934 to 1937.
Luton International Carnival – the largest one-day carnival in Europe – is held on the day before the last Monday in May. Crowds can reach 150,000 on each occasion. The Saint Patrick’s festival is held on the weekend nearest to Saint Patrick’s Day as there is a large Irish community in Luton. The town also has a large Pakistani community which, along with the Irish, were attracted to employment at the Vauxhall car plant. Luton Hoo is an English country house, estate and Grade I listed building originally designed by Scottish architect Robert Adam but later transformed to the designs of Robert Smirke.
The town has three railway stations: Luton, Leagrave and Luton Airport Parkway that are served by East Midlands Railway and Thameslink services.
Luton is also home to London Luton Airport, one of the major feeder airports for London and the south-east. A new light metro people mover track, Luton DART, is currently under construction; it will link the airport and Luton Airport Parkway railway station when it opens in 2022.