Luton is a large town, borough and unitary authority area of Bedfordshire, situated in the south of England, but in the East of England region for administrative purposes. It has a population of 213,052 and is one of the most populous towns without city status in the United Kingdom. The town is situated on the River Lea, about 30 miles northwest of London. The town's foundation dates to the sixth century as a Saxon outpost on the River Lea, from which Luton derives its name. Luton is recorded in the Domesday Book as Loitone and Lintone and one of the largest churches in Bedfordshire, St Mary's Church, was built in the 12th century. There are local museums which explore Luton's history in Wardown Park and Stockwood Park.
Luton was for many years famous 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 is still in the town. London Luton Airport opened in 1938, and is now one of Britain's major airports, with three railway stations also in the town.