Bedford is the county town of Bedfordshire, England. The town has a
population of around 80,000, whereas the
Borough of Bedford
Borough of Bedford had a
population of 166,252 in 2015 together with Kempston.
Bedford was founded at a ford on the River Great Ouse, and is thought
to have been the burial place of Offa of Mercia.
Bedford Castle was
built by Henry I, although it was destroyed in 1224.
granted borough status in 1165 and has been represented in Parliament
since 1265. It is well known for its large population of Italian
Bedford is on the Midland Main Line, with stopping services to London
and Brighton operated by Thameslink, and express services to London
and the East Midlands operated by East Midlands Trains.
Bedford bus station
8 Religious sites
12 Public services
13 Notable people
14 See also
16 External links
See also: History of Bedfordshire
The name of the town is thought to derive from the name of a Saxon
chief called Beda, and a ford crossing the River Great Ouse.
Bedford was a market town for the surrounding agricultural region from
the early Middle Ages The Anglo-
Saxon King Offa of
Mercia was buried in the town in 796; this is believed to be in his
new minster, now the Church of St Paul, or on the banks of the
Great Ouse where his tomb was soon lost to the river. In 886 it
became a boundary town separating
Wessex and Danelaw. It was the
seat of the Barony of Bedford. In 919
Edward the Elder
Edward the Elder built the
town's first known fortress, on the south side of the River Great Ouse
and there received the area's submission. This fortress was destroyed
by the Danes. William II gave the barony of
Bedford to Paine de
Beauchamp who built a new, strong castle.
Bedford traces its borough charter in 1166 by Henry II and elected
two members to the unreformed House of Commons. It remained a small
agricultural town, with wool being an important industry in the area
for much of the Middle Ages. The new
was razed in 1224 and today only a mound remains. From the 16th
Bedford and much of
Bedfordshire became one of the main
centres of England's lace industry, and lace continued to be an
important industry in
Bedford until the early 20th century. In 1660
John Bunyan was imprisoned for 12 years in
Bedford Gaol. It was here
that he wrote The Pilgrim's Progress. The
River Great Ouse
River Great Ouse became
navigable as far as
Bedford in 1689. Wool declined in importance with
brewing becoming a major industry in the town. The 19th century saw
Bedford transform into an important engineering hub. In 1832 gas
lighting was introduced, and the railway reached
Bedford in 1846. The
first corn exchange was built 1849, and the first drains and
sewers were dug in 1864.
Bedford in 1611
Bedford Bridge in 1783. This version of the bridge was replaced in
Bedford in 1806
Bedford Castle Hill
Bedford is the largest settlement in Borough of Bedford. The borough
council is led by a directly elected mayor who holds the title 'Mayor
of Bedford', an office which was first held by Frank Branston, until
his death in 2009. The current Mayor of
Dave Hodgson from
the Liberal Democrat Party.
Bedford itself is divided into 10 wards: Brickhill, Castle, Cauldwell,
De Parys, Goldington, Harpur, Kingsbrook, Newnham, Putnoe, Queens
Kempston East and
Brickhill elects its own parish
council, while the rest (and majority) of
Bedford is an unparished
Bedford is served by
Bedfordshire Police. The
Bedfordshire Police and
Crime Commissioner of that force is Kathryn Holloway.
Bedford forms part of the
Bedford constituency, represented in the
House of Commons of the
United Kingdom Parliament. The current Member
of Parliament (MP) for
Bedford is Mohammad Yasin, who is a member of
the Labour Party.
The town of
Kempston is adjacent to Bedford, as are the villages of
Renhold and Ravensden.
Wixams is a new town which is being
developed to the south of Bedford. Villages in the Borough of Bedford
with populations of more than 2,000 as of 2005 were Biddenham,
Bromham, Clapham, Elstow, Oakley, Sharnbrook, Shortstown, Wilstead,
and Wootton. There are also many smaller villages in the borough. The
villages in the borough are popular with commuters to Bedford, and
also with people who commute to Milton Keynes,
London and towns in
Northamptonshire and Cambridgeshire.
Nearby small towns include Ampthill, Biggleswade, Flitwick, and Sandy,
all of which are in Central Bedfordshire, as well as
St Neots in Cambridgeshire. The nearest towns and
cities with larger populations than
Northampton to the
Cambridge to the east,
Milton Keynes to the south west,
Luton to the south, all of which have urban area populations of
150,000 or more.
River Great Ouse
River Great Ouse in
Bedford from Town Bridge, looking downstream. The
old Coaching Inn, the Swan Hotel is on the left behind the tree.
Bedford Rowing Club and the multistorey
Bedford Park Inn are on the
As with the rest of the United Kingdom,
Bedford has a maritime
climate, with a limited range of temperatures, and generally even
rainfall throughout the year. The nearest
Met Office weather station
Bedford (Thurleigh) airport, about 6.5 miles north of
Bedford town centre at an elevation of 85 metres. Since 1980,
temperature extremes at the site have ranged from
35.9 °C(97F) in August 2003 and 35.3 °C(95F)
during July 2006 down to −15.3 °C(4F) in January 1982.
However, such extremes would likely be superseded if longer term
records were available – Historically, the nearest weather station
Bedford was Cardington about 2.4 miles south south east of the town
centre with an elevation of 30 metres. This location recorded a
minimum of −18.3 °C(-1F) during January 1963.
Rainfall averages around 585mm (23.03 in) a year, with an excess
of 1mm (.04in) falling on 109 days.
Sunshine at around 1500 hours a year is typical of inland areas of
Climate data for
Bedford (Thurleigh) 85m, 1971–2000
Average high °C (°F)
Average low °C (°F)
Average precipitation mm (inches)
Mean monthly sunshine hours
Bedford is home to one of the largest concentrations of Italian
immigrants in the United Kingdom. According to the 2001 census, almost
30% of Bedford's population were of at least partial Italian descent.
This is mainly as a result of labour recruitment in the early 1950s by
London Brick Company from Southern Italy. From 1954 to 2008
Bedford had its own Italian vice-consulate.
In addition to Italian immigrants,
Bedford has also been the recipient
of significant immigration from South Asia (8.1% of Bedford's
population; Indians began arriving from the late 1950s onwards
from the Punjab area & many worked at the
London Brick Company),
Eastern Europe (particularly in the 2000s), Greece, Cyprus, the Middle
East and Africa (3% of Bedford's population is of Sub-Saharan
descent), making it one of the most ethnically and linguistically
diverse towns in the
United Kingdom in proportion to its size. The
Bedford together with
Kempston is 107,590, but it is
163,924 for the urban area.
Bedford War Memorial
River Great Ouse
River Great Ouse passes through the town centre and is lined with
gardens known as the Embankment. Within these gardens, opposite
Rothsay Road, stands a war memorial to the men of the town killed in
the First World War. The memorial was designed in 1921 by the
Charles Sargeant Jagger
Charles Sargeant Jagger and depicts a knight killing a
dragon. The inscription reads
1914 † 1919
TO BEDFORDIANS WHO DIED, MANY IN EARLY YOUTH, SOME FULL OF YEARS AND
HONOUR, BUT WHO ALL ALIKE GAVE THEIR LIVES FOR THEIR COUNTRY.
Bedford Castle Mound is the remnant of Bedford's medieval castle,
located close to the centre of the modern town, less than a hundred
Bedford Bridge and the High Street. In around 2000 Bedford
Borough Council built a sloping retaining wall on the south side,
facing the river. Although almost completely modern, the wall does
incorporate a few pieces of historic masonry. A paved path leads round
the side of the mound up to the top, which is a flat circular grassy
area. A small wooden structure of the same date at the top of the
wall, much like a bus shelter, protects tourists from the rain while
they view the river embankment.
St Paul's Church
Bedford's principal church is St Paul's, in the square of the same
name at the historic centre of the town. It is the Civic Church of the
Borough of Bedford
Borough of Bedford and County of
Bedfordshire and has a tall, iconic
spire which is one of the dominant features of the town. There was an
early Minster church on the site by 1066 and work on the present
structure began in the early 13th century, but little remains from
John Bunyan and
John Wesley both preached in the church.
In 1865–1868 the tower and spire were completely rebuilt and the two
transepts added and lesser alterations have been made since. From 1941
to the end of the
Second World War
Second World War the BBC's daily service was
broadcast from St. Paul's. Another notable local church is St
Peter's, on St Peter's Street, which contains some of the oldest
architectural remains in Bedford, the most ancient being the two
Bedford Park is the town's largest urban park and is located directly
to the north of the town centre. The park retains many original
features from its Victorian design and construction, including a
cricket pavilion and bandstand which are both still in use. Priory
Country Park is a large country park located on the northern bank of
River Great Ouse
River Great Ouse in eastern Bedford. Both parks have been awarded
Green Flag status.
Just outside the town lie the Cardington airship hangars. The hangars
have been used to shoot scenes for movies such as Star Wars, Batman
Begins, The Dark Knight, and Inception. The hangars can be
seen from the
Despite being far upriver from the sea, seals have occasionally been
reported as swimming as far inland as Bedford.
View of the
Bedford skyline, taken from
Renhold in 2013.
Main article: Transport in Bedford
Transport in Bedford
Transport in Bedford provides links between the town and other parts
of England. Road access to the town is provided by the A6 road &
A421 road. The town is served by two railway stations and a
network of bus services.
Bedford bus station
Bedford bus station in July 2007
Bedford bus station serves the town of Bedford, and was opened on 29
March 2015 after undergoing £8.8million regeneration which began in
2013. The new Greyfriars surface car park and the refurbished
Allhallows multi-story car park both implement a pay on foot system.
Greyfriars occupies 142 parking spaces, including 7 designated
disabled spaces, although there is a 2-hour per day parking limit.
The main operator at
Bedford bus station is
Stagecoach in Bedford
Stagecoach in Bedford and
Stagecoach in Northants.
See also: List of schools in Bedford
Unlike most of England,
Bedford Borough operates a three-tier
education system in some of the area, which is arranged into lower,
middle and upper schools, as recommended in the
Plowden Report of
1967. The arrangement was put to the vote in 2006 with a view to
moving to the two-tier model, but was rejected. On 17 November
2009, borough councillors voted 19 to 17 in favour of a two tier
system, which would then be phased in. However, following the defeat
of the Labour Government in 2010, the new coalition government
announced that the funding necessary for the switch to a two-tier
system would no longer be available. As a result, the switch proceeded
on a school by school basis where council funds allowed, as national
funding was due to cover most of the cost. As of September 2017
Bedford Free School,
Biddenham International School,
Daubeney Academy, Sringfield Primary,
Kempston Challenger Academy,
Mark Rutherford School and St Thomas More Catholic School are all
secondary schools, while some middle and lower schools continue to
operate in the town.
Bedford is home to four private schools run by the
charity, endowed by Bedfordian Sir William
Harpur in the 16th century.
Bedford School for boys aged 7–18
Bedford Modern School, a former boys' school which became
co-educational in 2003 for pupils aged 7–18
Bedford Girls' School
Bedford Girls' School for girls aged 7–18. (Merged September 2012
Bedford High School for Girls and Dame Alice Harpur
Pilgrims Pre-Preparatory School
Smaller private institutions include
Rushmoor School (boys aged
3–16, girls 3–11) St. Andrew's School (girls aged 3–16, boys
3–9), and Polam School (boys and girls aged 12 months to 9 years),
none of which are part of the
Bedford hosts a campus of the University of Bedfordshire, which prior
to a merger with the University of
Luton in 2006 had been a campus of
De Montfort University
De Montfort University (itself now solely based in Leicester). For
further education, the town is served by
Additionally, Stella Mann College is a private college, which offers a
range of further education courses relating to the performing arts.
The Guru Nanak Gurdwara in Queens Park
The town has a high number of Christian churches: including the Civic
and County Church of St Paul's and the Church of St Peter's, both
already noted above. There are also four from the Newfrontiers
network, several Polish and Italian Roman Catholic churches, LDS
(Mormon) meetinghouses, and various independent churches that cater to
the different ethnic and language groups. There are also four mosques
located in the town.
Bedford has the largest Sikh temple in the
United Kingdom outside
London, alongside two other Sikh temples; one of which is in Kempston.
Bedford also has
Guru Ravidass and Valmiki temples.
There are also Quaker, Jehovah's Witness and Wiccan communities who
meet in the town. There is no longer a synagogue in Bedford, but
Bedfordshire Progressive Synagogue, based in Luton, meets in
Bedford once a month for the town's Jewish community. The nearest
Orthodox synagogue is the
Luton Hebrew Congregation, a Lubavitch
synagogue in Luton.
Bedford is also the former headquarters of the
Panacea Society who believed that the town would have an important
role in the
Second Coming of
Jesus Christ, and also that
the original location of the Garden of Eden.
Bedford Corn Exchange
The Higgins Art Gallery & Museum,
Bedford is housed in the
recreated Victorian home of the Higgins family of Victorian brewers
and in a modern extension. The museum has local history collections,
while the galleries have notable collections of watercolours, prints
and drawings, ceramics, glass and lace.
The Panacea Museum tells the story of the Panacea Society, a religious
community formed in the early twentieth century.
Bedford Corn Exchange is the largest entertainment venue in the
town and plays host to a variety of performances, meetings,
conferences, concerts and private functions. The venue has been host
to many great entertainers such as
Glenn Miller and Bob Hope.
The University of
Bedfordshire Theatre is the largest theatre in
Bedford and hosts many larger productions as well as projects from the
university. There is an active amdram (community theatre) scene, with
groups such as the Swan Theatre Company,
Bedford Drama Company
Bedford Dramatic Club),
Bedford Marianettes and ShowCo
Bedford producing plays and musicals in venues like the Corn Exchange.
Bedford Pantomime Company produces a traditional pantomime at the
Bedford Corn Exchange each Christmas. Esquires (one of the town's
premier live music venues) regularly plays host to many notable bands
and acts from all over the
United Kingdom as well as showcasing local
Every two years, an event called the "
Bedford River Festival" is held
near the river in
Bedford during early July. The event lasts for two
days and regularly attracts about 250,000 visitors. The event includes
sports, funfairs and live music. It is the second largest regular
outdoor event in the United Kingdom, beaten in numbers only by the
Notting Hill Carnival. The
Bedford Regatta each May is Britain's
largest one-day river rowing regatta.
Other annual events include "
Bedford by the Sea" (when large
quantities of sand are deposited in the town centre) and the "Bedford
International Kite Festival" in June. "Proms in the Park", held in
early August, is a popular musical event.
See also: Sport in Bedfordshire
There is a long-standing sporting heritage in
Bedford Borough with
long established rugby and football clubs.
Bedford has four rugby
union teams called
Bedford Swifts and
Bedford Athletic, and, since 2004, has also a rugby league team;
Bedford Tigers, who compete one tier below the National Conference.
Bedford Blues are currently in the second tier of English rugby, but
have previously been in the top division.
Bedford Blues RFC's
Goldington Road ground holds in the region of 5,000 spectators with an
average gate of 3,000 for home games.
Taking into account the size of its overall urban area,
Bedford is one
of the largest towns in
England without a fully professional football
Bedford Town F.C.
Bedford Town F.C. currently plays at the eighth level of the
English football league system
English football league system and
Bedford F.C. play at the 11th
Bedford rowing club boathouse.
Rowing is also a major part of the sports scene with a number of
regatta events hosted throughout the year from February to October;
the most significant of these being
Bedford Regatta, which in terms of
numbers of crews participating is the second largest in the country.
It was on Bedford's
River Great Ouse
River Great Ouse that Olympic rower, Tim Foster,
honed his skills as a student of
Bedford Modern and member of star
club; indeed the borough has produced many other champions of sport
past and present including Stephanie Cook, Gail Emms,
Liz Yelling and
Paula Radcliffe who is Life Vice-President of
Bedford & County
Viking Kayak Club
Viking Kayak Club organise the
Bedford Kayak Marathon with canoe
racing held along the Embankment on Bedford's riverside and organise
Canoe Slalom events at the Cardington Artificial
Slalom Course (CASC), which was the first artificial whitewater course
in the United Kingdom. CASC is also the venue each year for the United
Kingdom's National Inter Clubs Slalom Finals, the largest canoe slalom
event by participation in the United Kingdom.
Etienne Stott – 2012
Olympic Gold Medallist's Club.
Bedford and the surrounding borough was a major host of national teams
preparing for the
2012 Summer Olympics
2012 Summer Olympics and Paralympics. The Maldives
National Olympic Committee based its competing athletes in the town
and borough, while Paralympic athletes from Angola, the Central
African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Gambia, Ghana,
Ivory Coast, Jamaica, Lesotho, Morocco, Niger, Pakistan, Senegal,
Tunisia and Uganda were also be based in the area. With the exception
of Weymouth (which hosted various sailing events)
more Olympic teams in 2012 than any other town or borough in the
It is also home to the United Kingdom's largest outdoor fitness
company, British Military Fitness which operates in
BBC TV series
Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em
Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em was filmed in and
Bedford during the 1970s.
In the 2005 motion picture
Batman Begins scenes were filmed at the
Cardington Sheds near
Bedford and featured extras from Bedford. The
sequel, 'The Dark Knight', was also partially filmed at the sheds
using the fake working name 'Rory's First Kiss' and members of the
production cast stayed at various hotels around the town.[citation
In the 2006
Comedy Central and DVD versions of Russell Peters'
Outsourced, a good natured Bedfordian bears the brunt of Russell's
comedic segment "I'm From England".
Bedford Hospital is a district general hospital that operates from two
sites in the town, providing a wide range of services, although
patients requiring advanced health services are referred to specialist
units elsewhere, particularly
Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge,
which has a partnership with
catchment area is based on the
Borough of Bedford
Borough of Bedford and parts of Central
Bedfordshire Police is responsible for policing in Bedford, and
operates a main police station in the town centre. Fire and rescue
Bedford are coordinated by the
and Rescue Service. Bedford's fire station is in the Newnham area of
the town, and is staffed 24 hours a day.
List of people from Bedford
List of people from Bedford and list of people educated
Transport in Bedford
Healthcare in Bedfordshire
List of twin towns and sister cities in the United Kingdom
Bedford Borough Council (2017). "Statistics and Census information".
ONS Data. Retrieved 4 May 2017.
^ The Guardian. "Italians in Bedford".
^ "Brief History of Bedford".
Bedford Borough Council. Retrieved 29
^ Simon Keynes, "Cynethryth", in Lapidge, Encyclopaedia of Anglo-Saxon
England, p. 133.
^ Haslam, Jeremy (1986). "The Ecclesiastical Topography of Early
Bedfordshire Archaeological Council Publications.
17 (17): 41–2, 46,48. access-date= requires url= (help)
Retrieved 29 December 2016
Bedford Timeline, Earliest Times – 1800".
Archived from the original on 1 December 2008. Retrieved 10 February
^ Whitelock, Dorothy; Douglas, David C. (ed) (1979). English
Historical Documents c. 500–1042 (2nd edition). Routledge. Retrieved
10 February 2008. CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
^ "Brief History of Bedford".
Bedford Borough Council. Retrieved 10
Bedford Castle". CastleUK. Archived from the original on 5 March
2008. Retrieved 10 February 2008.
John Bunyan (1628–1688)". The Bunyan Press. Archived from the
original on 26 July 2007. Retrieved 10 February 2008.
^ "1849 & Friday 1 March 1850".
Bedford Corn Exchange. Retrieved
10 February 2008.
Bedford Borough records introduction".
Bedfordshire County Council.
Archived from the original on 27 August 2008. Retrieved 10 February
^ "2003 Maximum". Retrieved 3 March 2011.
^ "2006 Maximum". Archived from the original on 29 June 2011.
Retrieved 3 March 2011.
^ "1982 Minimum". Retrieved 3 March 2011.
^ "1963 Minimum". Archived from the original on 15 July 2011.
Retrieved 3 March 2011.
Bedford 1971–2000 averages". Met Office. July 2011. Archived from
the original on 9 January 2007. Retrieved 16 June 2008.
^ "Bedford's Italian question".
BBC – Legacies. Retrieved 10
Bedford Italian Community".
Bedfordshire Libraries. Archived from
the original on 19 January 2008. Retrieved 10 February 2008.
^ a b "Check Browser Settings".
^ "Brief History of
Bedford Town Centre". BedfordBID. Archived from
the original on 23 July 2012. Retrieved 24 June 2010.
^ 52°08′05″N 0°27′30″W / 52.134654°N 0.458215°W /
^ Daniel Stannard/
Bedfordshire County Council (2007). "The First World
War Memorial, Bedford" (PDF).
Bedfordshire Buildings and Monuments.
Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 November 2007. Retrieved 4
^ "History of the Daily Service".
BBC Religion and Ethics. Retrieved
27 July 2017.
^ "Film Locations".
Inception to Film at the Airship Shed in Bedfordshire".
^ "SLIDESHOW: Seal in the River Great Ouse".
Bedford Times &
Citizen. Retrieved 11 October 2015.
^ "Surprise guest puts seal on festival's pearl".
Sunday. Retrieved 11 October 2015.
^ "Sunbathing seals make long trip inland from the Wash". BBC
Cambridgeshire. Retrieved 11 October 2015.
^ "A New Bus Station for Bedford".
Bedford Borough Council. Retrieved
12 September 2017.
^ "Bus Operators". www.bedford.gov.uk. Retrieved 5 June 2017.
^ "Two-tier school proposal rejected".
BBC News. 13 July 2006.
Retrieved 10 February 2008.
Bedfordshire Progressive Synagogue".
^ "The Panacea Society". Archived from the original on 22 May 2013.
Retrieved 7 January 2013.
^ "River Great Ouse".
Bedford Borough Council. Archived from the
original on 6 March 2008. Retrieved 29 January 2008.
^ "On Your Marks!
Bedford Borough to host teams from around the world
London 2012". Archived from the original on 14 July
^ "Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em" at Internet Movie Database
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Bedford, Bedfordshire.
Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Bedford.
The Official Town Centre and BedfordBID Website
Bedford at Curlie (based on DMOZ)
Vintage Postcards of Bedford
Areas and wards of Bedford
Ceremonial county of Bedfordshire
Borough of Bedford
Borough of Luton
See also: List of civil parishes in Bedfordshire
Grade I listed buildings
Grade II* listed buildings
Settlements in Borough of Bedford
River Great Ouse, England
(upstream to downstream)
(upstream to downstream by confluence)
River Ouzel (or Lovat)
River Little Ouse
(upstream to downstream)
A428 Turvey bridge
A428 Bromham bypass
Bedford Town Bridge
Great Barford Bridge
A428 Bridge St Neots
St Neots Town Bridge
Godmanchester Chinese Bridge
A14 bridge, River Great Ouse
Huntingdon Old Bridge
St Ives Bridge
Longest UK rivers