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BEDFORD is the county town of Bedfordshire , England. The town has a population of around 80,000, whereas the 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. Bedford was granted borough status in 1165 and has been represented in Parliament since 1265. It is well known for its large population of Italian descent .

Bedford is on the Midland Main Line , with stopping services to London
London
and Brighton operated by Thameslink , and express services to London
London
and the East Midlands operated by East Midlands Trains .

CONTENTS

* 1 History * 2 Governance

* 3 Geography

* 3.1 Climate

* 4 Demography * 5 Landmarks

* 6 Transport

* 6.1 Bedford bus station

* 7 Education * 8 Religious sites * 9 Culture * 10 Sports * 11 Filmography * 12 Public services * 13 Notable people * 14 See also * 15 References * 16 External links

HISTORY

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 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 Bedford Castle was razed in 1224 and today only a mound remains. From the 16th century 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 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.

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Bedford in 1611 *

Bedford Bridge in 1783. This version of the bridge was replaced in 1813. *

Bedford in 1806 *

Bedford Castle Hill

GOVERNANCE

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 Bedford is 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 Park , Kempston East and Kempston West . Brickhill elects its own parish council , while the rest (and majority) of Bedford is an unparished area .

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 .

GEOGRAPHY

The town of Kempston is adjacent to Bedford, as are the villages of Elstow , 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 Rushden in Northamptonshire and St Neots in Cambridgeshire. The nearest towns and cities with larger populations than Bedford are Northampton to the north west, Cambridge to the east, Milton Keynes to the south west, and Luton to the south, all of which have urban area populations of 150,000 or more. 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 right.

CLIMATE

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 to Bedford is 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 to 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 (23.03in) 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 southern-central England.

CLIMATE DATA FOR BEDFORD (THURLEIGH) 85M, 1971–2000

MONTH JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC YEAR

AVERAGE HIGH °C (°F) 6.4 (43.5) 6.9 (44.4) 9.7 (49.5) 12.0 (53.6) 15.7 (60.3) 18.6 (65.5) 21.5 (70.7) 21.5 (70.7) 18.2 (64.8) 14.0 (57.2) 9.5 (49.1) 7.2 (45) 13.5 (56.3)

AVERAGE LOW °C (°F) 0.8 (33.4) 0.6 (33.1) 2.3 (36.1) 3.6 (38.5) 6.2 (43.2) 9.3 (48.7) 11.5 (52.7) 11.6 (52.9) 9.7 (49.5) 6.6 (43.9) 3.3 (37.9) 1.8 (35.2) 5.6 (42.1)

AVERAGE PRECIPITATION MM (INCHES) 48.4 (1.906) 36.6 (1.441) 43.5 (1.713) 47.2 (1.858) 45.3 (1.783) 56.9 (2.24) 44.7 (1.76) 48.6 (1.913) 53.6 (2.11) 56.8 (2.236) 49.0 (1.929) 53.8 (2.118) 584.4 (23.008)

MEAN MONTHLY SUNSHINE HOURS 58.6 76.3 99.5 153.0 183.8 185.7 200.9 188.5 139.8 114.1 72.0 51.5 1,523.6

Source:

DEMOGRAPHY

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 the London
London
Brick Company from Southern Italy . Bedford's _Little Italy _ feel is enhanced by a wide variety of Italian bars, restaurants and social clubs throughout the town, as well as a large number of delis and grocery shops selling Italian and continental produce – and by the large Italian mission church run by the Scalabrini Fathers order. 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 "> Bedford War Memorial

The 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 sculptor 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 yards from 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 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 that period. 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 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 monoliths .

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 the 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 _Batman Begins _, _The Dark Knight _, and _ Inception _. The hangars can be seen from the Bedford Bypass .

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.

TRANSPORT

Main article: 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 . 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, The bus station is part owned by the Stagecoach in Bedford and Bedford Borough Council and is situated in the town centre on All Hallows just off Greyfriars.

The main operator at Bedford bus station is Stagecoach in Bedford and Stagecoach in Northants .

EDUCATION

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 2015 Bedford Academy , Bedford Free School , Biddenham International School , 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 Harpur Trust charity, endowed by Bedfordian Sir William Harpur in the 16th century. These are:

* 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 for girls aged 7–18. (Merged September 2012 – Formerly Bedford High School for Girls and Dame Alice Harpur School) * 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 Harpur Trust.

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 (itself now solely based in Leicester ). For further education, the town is served by Bedford College . Additionally, Stella Mann College is a private college, which offers a range of further education courses relating to the performing arts .

RELIGIOUS SITES

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 Bedford was the original location of the Garden of Eden .

CULTURE

Bedford Corn Exchange

The Higgins Art Gallery 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 team. Bedford Town F.C. currently plays at the eighth level of the English football league system and Bedford F.C. play at the 11th level. 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 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 "> * 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"_.

PUBLIC SERVICES

Bedford Hospital

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 Bedford Hospital. Bedford Hospital's catchment area is based on the Borough of Bedford and parts of Central Bedfordshire .

The Bedfordshire Police is responsible for policing in Bedford, and operates a main police station in the town centre. Fire and rescue services in Bedford are coordinated by the Bedfordshire and Luton Fire and Rescue Service . Bedford's fire station is in the Newnham area of the town, and is staffed 24 hours a day.

NOTABLE PEOPLE

Main articles: List of people from Bedford and list of people educated at Bedford School

SEE ALSO

* England portal

* Transport in Bedford * Healthcare in Bedfordshire * List of twin towns and sister cities in the United Kingdom * Kempston

REFERENCES

* ^ Bedford Borough Council (2017). "Statistics and Census information". _ONS Data_. Retrieved 4 May 2017. * ^ "Brief History of Bedford". Bedford Borough Council. Retrieved 29 March 2011. * ^ Simon Keynes, "Cynethryth", in Lapidge, _Encyclopaedia of Anglo- Saxon England_, p. 133. * ^ Haslam, Jeremy (1986). "The Ecclesiastical Topography of Early Medieval Bedford". _ Bedfordshire Archaeological Council Publications_. 17 (17): 41–2, 46,48. access-date= requires url= (help ) * ^ https://hefenfelth.wordpress.com/2014/08/04/king-offas-tomb/ Retrieved 2016-12-29 * ^ " Bedford Timeline, Earliest Times – 1800". Bedfordshire Libraries. Archived from the original on 1 December 2008. Retrieved 10 February 2008. * ^ 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 February 2008. * ^ " 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 2008. * ^ "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 February 2008. * ^ " 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. Retrieved 24 June 2010. * ^ 52°08′05″N 0°27′30″W / 52.134654°N 0.458215°W / 52.134654; -0.458215 * ^ 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 November 2007. * ^ "History of the Daily Service". _