A Short History of Chiltern

The Luton Chiltern Ladies were formed back in 1922 when a group of girls, fresh from Luton High School, found that the Luton Town Club was unable to accept any more members, and so decided to form a team of their own. Looking for somewhere to play, they were loaned a field by Mr K Durrant, who became president of the club and set it on its feet financially. Mr Durrant continued to remain president until his death in 1937, at which time his wife took over until her death 4 years later. The presidency of the club was then taken up by their daughter, Winifred, who became a founding member of the club and carried the presidency for 45 years, until her death in 1986.

The club's early years were hard work, with minimal funding and only limited players. However, a major breakthrough came when a flagging club, Phoenix, asked if they could amalgamate. Chiltern Ladies readily agreed, and in 1926 their old field went up for sale and the club moved to Wardown Park, which was to become their home for over 60 years.

The major event for the club, and was to be for many years to come, was the annual dinner dance. The first dance was held at Primmett's Cafe in 1924. In 1927 the venue changed to the George Hotel and then in 1965 moved to the Civic Hall Dunstable. In 1968, the event had become so popular that the club sold around 500 tickets, making it one of Luton's largest social events.

The club started to move from strength to strength and a major milestone occurred in 1931 when the club became affiliated to the County Association. In 1934, the club achieved their first representative honour when Phylis Darnley, the then club captain, and who had been the instigator in getting the club affiliated to the Bedfordshire Women's Hockey Association, was chosen to represent the county. It was mostly her enthusiasm that kept the club active throughout the war years, and to continue to flourish after the war ended. As the club's standard began to rise, so did the number of county and area representatives, which forced Chiltern Ladies to look further a field for stronger fixtures to maintain and better their standards. The club was soon a target for local and area selectors, and in 1947 Pauline Davies was named as reserve to the Midland squad, and played with two other club members for the county team.

The sudden upsurge of interest in ladies hockey began early in the 1960s and by 1962 the club was running two teams regularly. By the late 1960s they increased this to three. The clubs playing standard improved so much that not only did they have many county players but, by 1971 had a Midlands and England "B" player as their joint captain in Miss Shirley Nichol. Shirley toured New Zealand with the England team and was reserve the following season against Scotland at Wembley.