Attractions of Luton Part 2
In this article, we take a look at some of the other popular attractions of Luton.
1. Mossman Collection
The Mossman Collection is renowned for being the largest and most prestigious collection of carriages in the UK. Held annually at the Stockwood Park in Luton, the collection features quite a number of original carriages dating back to the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries.
Taken as a whole, the collection narrates in great visual detail the development of horse-drawn road transportation in the country, beginning in Roman times until the 1930s. It provides guests with a glimpse into the lives of aristocracy and of ordinary people throughout the centuries.
The collection came about as a result of the fascination of a local man, George Mossman, with carriages. Mossman, born in 1906, began his collection right after World War I when he purchased a leasing company that specialized in providing horse-drawn carriages for special events like carnivals and weddings. For 25 straight years, Mossman brought his carriages to the Lord Mayors Show in London. His carriages were also used during the Queen's Coronation procession.
The Mossman Collection has over 60 vehicles in all, including numerous original carriages and a few replicas. Remarkably, the original carriages from the 18th and 19th century are still in fine condition.
2. Whipsnade Zoo
The Whipsnade Park Zoo officially opened its doors on May 23, 1931 and gained immediate acclaim for being Europe's first open zoo that provided easy access to the public. On the day that followed its opening, more 38,000 visitors trooped to the zoo to see its myriad collection of animals. Since those days, the brown bear enclosure is the sole surviving structure from the inauguration of the zoo.
The zoo changed its name to Whipsnade Wild Animal Park in 1988 and again to ZSL Whipsnade Zoo in March 2007. The ZSL stands for the Zoological Society of London, which own Whipsnade Zoo. The zoo in Whipsnade is a companion to the ZSL Zoo in Regents Park, London.
Stretching over 600 acres, the zoo provides a bus service for visitors as well as a narrow-gauge train service called the Jumbo Express. Most people prefer to walk, though, in order to soak the zoo's many attractions to the fullest, especially the Asian area where animals roam free. One of the zoo's most prominent features is a huge white lion figure that has been carved on Dunstable Down in the Chiltern Hills. The lion is a prominent fixture from the air.
With over 2,500 animals, including a number of endangered species, the Whipsnade Zoo is one of the largest wildlife conservation parks in Europe.
3. Waulud's Bank
With its origins dating back to 3,000 BC, Waulud's Bank is one of the oldest and most popular attractions of Luton. It is actually a Neolithic Henge located in Leagrave, Bedfordshire.
This famed archaeological site sits on the edge of the Marsh Farm Estate, beside the River Lea. Its 'D' shape is nearly the same as the Durrington Walls in Avebury, except that, in the latter, an 'A' road runs across its middle. Archaeological finds indicate the site was also used during the Iron Age and the Roman occupation.
Among the finds at Waulud's Bank are Neolithic pottery and flint arrow heads, which are currently displayed at the Luton Museum.
4. Whipsnade Tree Cathedral
The Whipsnade Tree Cathedral is actually a garden that is shaped in the form of a cathedral. Its chapels, nave, chancel, transepts and cloisters are made out of grass avenues while its walls are made out of different types of trees. It occupies an area of 9.5 acres.
Credit for the Tree Cathedral goes to EK Blyth who planted the garden to symbolize "faith, hope and reconciliation" after World War I, where he was cadet, and in memory of two close friends (Arthur Bailey and John Bennett ) who were both killed within 18 months. Although Blyth started working on the Tree Cathedral in 1932, it would take him over two decades to complete his task. In 1953, the first religious service would finally be celebrated at the site.
In 1960, the Tree Cathedral was turned over to the National Trust, which organizes the site's religious use for several different denominations.
In 1960 the Tree Cathedral was accepted as a gift by the National Trust. The independent Whipsnade Tree Cathedral Fund is responsible for the religious use of the site. Services have been conducted by many different denominations.
Today, Blyth is commemorated through the Blythswood house in Whipsnade village, while Bailey and Bennett are also remembered through Bailey Cottage and Bennetts Cottage.