Bedfordshire (/ˈbɛdfərdʃər, -ʃɪər/; abbreviated Beds.) is a
county in the East of England. It is a ceremonial county and a
historic county, covered by three unitary authorities: Bedford,
Central Bedfordshire, and Luton.
Bedfordshire is bordered by
Cambridgeshire to the east/northeast,
Northamptonshire to the north,
Buckinghamshire to the west and
Hertfordshire to the east/southeast. It is the fourteenth most densely
populated county of England, with over half the population of the
county living in the two largest built-up areas:
Luton (236,000) and
the county town,
Bedford (102,000). The highest elevation point is
243 metres (797 ft) on
Dunstable Downs in the Chilterns.
3.1 Police and Crime Commissioner
3.2 Local government
3.3 Emergency services
3.4 Parliamentary constituencies
5 Traditional Dishes
6 Visitor attractions
8 Settlements in Bedfordshire
Bedford and Central Bedfordshire
9.3 Higher education
10.1 Cardington airship sheds
10.2 St Paul's Church Bedford
10.3 Millbrook Proving Ground
11 Sports and Leisure
12 Notable people from Bedfordshire
13 Bibliographical references
14 See also
16 External links
Main article: History of Bedfordshire
The first recorded use of the name in 1011 was "Bedanfordscir,"
meaning the shire or county of Bedford, which itself means "Beda's
ford" (river crossing).
Bedfordshire was historically divided into nine hundreds: Barford,
Biggleswade, Clifton, Flitt, Manshead, Redbornestoke, Stodden, Willey,
Wixamtree, along with the liberty and borough of Bedford. There have
been several changes to the county boundary; for example, in 1897
Kensworth and part of
Caddington were transferred from Hertfordshire
The southern end of the county is on the chalk ridge known as the
Chiltern Hills. The remainder is part of the broad drainage basin of
River Great Ouse
River Great Ouse and its tributaries. Most of Bedfordshire's rocks
are clays and sandstones from the
with some limestone. Local clay has been used for brick-making of
Fletton style bricks in the Marston Vale. Glacial erosion of chalk has
left the hard flint nodules deposited as gravel—this has been
commercially extracted in the past at pits which are now lakes, at
Priory Country Park,
Wyboston and Felmersham. The Greensand Ridge is
an escarpment across the county from near
Leighton Buzzard to near
Gamlingay in Cambridgeshire.
Bedfordshire is relatively dry, being situated in the east of England.
Average annual rainfall is 597.6 millimetres (23.53 in) at
Bedford. October is the wettest month with 62.5 millimetres
(2.46 in), February the driest with 36.7 millimetres
(1.44 in). While there is little difference from month to month
there are more wet days in autumn and winter but often heavier
individual falls in spring and summer, of note were the 1998 Easter
Average temperatures in
Bedford range from a low of 0.8 °C
(33.4 °F) overnight in February to a high of 22.1 °C
(71.8 °F) during the day in July. In the last 20 years the
highest temperature recorded was 35.9 °C (96.6 °F). The
lowest temperature on record in
Bedfordshire is −20.6 °C
(−5.1 °F) at Woburn on 25 February 1947.
Police and Crime Commissioner
Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner is Kathryn Holloway who
is a member of the Conservative Party.
For local government purposes,
Bedfordshire is divided into three
unitary authorities: the boroughs of
Bedford and Luton, and the
District of Central Bedfordshire.
Bedfordshire County Council was
abolished on 1 April 2009, although the three districts continue to
form a county for ceremonial functions such as lieutenancy and High
Sheriff. Many services in the county, such as education and public
libraries, continue to be provided jointly by
Central Bedfordshire and
Bedford as if they were a single local authority.
Policing, fire and rescue services continue to be provided on a
county-wide basis, with
Bedfordshire Police governed by the
Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner and
Bedfordshire and Luton
Fire and Rescue Service governed members of the three councils.
For elections to the House of Commons,
Bedfordshire is divided into
six constituencies, each returning a single member of parliament:
Member of Parliament
North East Bedfordshire
South West Bedfordshire
The present constituencies date from 1997. The boundaries were
slightly modified for the 2010 general election.
See also: Category:Parliamentary constituencies in Bedfordshire
This is a chart of trend of regional gross value added of Bedfordshire
at current basic prices published (pp. 240–253) by Office for
National Statistics with figures in millions of British Pounds
Regional Gross Value Added
Bedfordshire is the location of a number of notable UK and
international companies who have either headquarters or major bases in
the county. Autoglass,
Boxclever and Charles Wells Pubs are all based
in Bedford, while the
Kier Group and Kingspan Timber Solutions are
based in Sandy, and Jordans Cereals are based in Biggleswade. EasyJet,
TUI Airways and
Vauxhall Motors are all based in Luton,
Whitbread (including Costa Coffee) is based in nearby Houghton
UltraVision is based in Leighton Buzzard, while Moto
Hospitality is based at Toddington service station.
Bedfordshire clanger" is a local dish consisting of a suet crust
pastry filled with meat in one end and jam in the other.
Accessible open space
Museum (free/not free)
Bedford Corn Exchange
Cecil Higgins Art Gallery &
De Grey Mausoleum
Elstow Moot Hall
Harrold-Odell Country Park
Leighton Buzzard Light Railway
Luton Museum & Art Gallery
Marston Vale Community Forest
Priory Country Park
RSPB The Lodge, Sandy
The Shuttleworth Collection
Stockwood Craft Museum
Whipsnade Wildlife Park
Whipsnade Tree Cathedral
Willington Dovecote & Stables
Woburn Safari Park
Woodside Farm and Wildfowl Park
Wrest Park Gardens
See also: List of future transport developments in the East of England
Although not a major transport destination,
Bedfordshire lies on many
of the main transport routes which link
London to the Midlands and
Two of England's six main trunk roads pass through Bedfordshire:
Edinburgh road (the Great North Road) runs close by
Biggleswade and Sandy
Holyhead road (Watling Street), passes through
To these was added in 1959 the M1 motorway, the
London to Leeds
motorway. This has three junctions around Luton, one serving Bedford
and another serving Milton Keynes.
Former trunk roads, now local roads managed by the local highway
authority, include A428 running east–west through
and A6 from Rushden to Luton.
Three of England's main lines pass through Bedfordshire:
West Coast Main Line
West Coast Main Line has but a short section in the far west of
the county. The one station at
Leighton Buzzard is served by London
Midland trains to
London Euston and Northampton.
East Coast Main Line
East Coast Main Line has stations at Arlesey,
Sandy, served by Great Northern services to King's Cross and
Midland Main Line
Midland Main Line serves
Bedford with trains to many
destinations operated by
East Midlands Trains
East Midlands Trains and Thameslink.
There are rural services also running between
Bedford and Bletchley
Marston Vale Line.
Bedfordshire is served by a large number of taxi companies.
reported to have the highest number of taxicabs per head of
population in the
United Kingdom with a number of
firms competing for work in the town and from
River Great Ouse
River Great Ouse links
Bedfordshire to the
Fenland waterways. As
of 2004 there are plans by the
Milton Keynes Waterway
Trust to construct a canal linking the Great Ouse at
Bedford to the
Canal at Milton Keynes, 14 miles (23 km) distant.
Luton Airport has flights to many UK, European, Middle Eastern
North African destinations, operated largely but not exclusively
by low-cost airlines.
Settlements in Bedfordshire
Main article: List of places in Bedfordshire
Further information: List of
Bedfordshire settlements by population
and Civil parishes in Bedfordshire
The state education system for all of
Bedfordshire used to be
Bedfordshire County Council. Unlike most of the United
Bedfordshire County Council operated a three-tier education
system arranged into lower, middle and upper schools, as recommended
Plowden Report of 1967, although
Luton continued to operate a
two-tier system. The three-tier arrangement continues in the rest of
the county, though in 2006 a vote was held with a view to moving to
the two-tier model, but this was rejected.
After the 2009 structural changes to local government in England,
Bedfordshire County Council was abolished, and its responsibilities
for education were passed to
Borough Council and Central
Bedfordshire Council. Though
Central Bedfordshire plans to continue
with the three-tier model in its area,
Borough Council voted
in November 2009 to change to the two-tier model in its area.
The change was due to be introduced over a five-year period and be
completed in 2015. However, with the cancellation of the Building
Schools for the Future programme in 2010, the borough has changed its
proposals, and the switch is now proceeding on school by school basis
where council funds allow.
Bedford and Central Bedfordshire
Until the division into two unitary authorities in April 2009,
education in the area continued to be administered by Bedfordshire
All of the two councils' upper schools offer 6th form courses (such as
A Levels), though
Central Bedfordshire College and
Shuttleworth College also offer a range of further education courses.
Additionally, Stella Mann College is a private college (based in
Bedford), which offers a range of further education courses relating
to the performing arts.
There are a number of independent schools, many of which have links to
the Harpur Trust. These are
Bedford School for boys (formerly Bedford
Bedford Modern School (co-educational), Bedford
Girls' School and Pilgrims Pre-Preparatory School (co-educational).
Main article: Education in Luton
Luton also operates a three-tier education system, though its
organisation of infant, junior and high schools mirrors the
traditional transfer age into secondary education of 11 years.
However, most of Luton's high schools do not offer sixth-form
education. Instead, this is handled by
Luton Sixth Form College,
Barnfield College and Cardinal Newman Catholic School also
offer a range of further education courses.
There are two universities based in the county – the University of
Bedfordshire and Cranfield University. These institutions attract
students from all over the UK and abroad, as well as from
Cardington airship sheds
The enormous Cardington airship sheds are situated to the south of
Bedford, near the villages of Cardington and Shortstown. They were
originally built for the construction of large airships during WW1.
Since falling out of their intended use, one has been used for many
purposes including housing film sets for 'Charlie and the Chocolate
Factory' and 'Batman Begins' and as a rehearsal space for Take That,
with the other having been extensively refurbished and now
accommodating Hybrid Air Vehicles, a British modern airship design and
St Paul's Church Bedford
St Paul's Church,
Bedford is a Church of
England parish church and the
Civic Church of the
Borough of Bedford
Borough of Bedford and the County of Bedfordshire.
Located on St Paul's Square, the large medieval and later church of
cathedral proportions and iconic spire dominates the town and area,
exercises a ministry of welcome to thousands of visitors and pilgrims
from far and wide each year, and is a focus for special commemorations
and celebrations in the borough, county, region and wider community,
as well as being a central venue for concerts, recitals and
exhibitions. Historically, St Paul’s played a key part in the life
of the British nation during the Second World War as the church of the
Millbrook Proving Ground
The Millbrook Proving Ground, near Junction 13 of the M1, has 70
kilometres (43 mi) of varied vehicle test tracks.
Sports and Leisure
Main article: Sport in Bedfordshire
Bedfordshire is home to
Luton Town F.C. and
Bedford Blues rugby team
amongst other various sporting teams.
Bedfordshire boasts a 40-mile (64 km) walk traversing the county
Leighton Buzzard at the southern end point and Sandy,
Gamlingay in southern
Cambridgeshire to the east. This is
called the Greensand Ridge Walk. For cyclists, a parallel route
following minor country roads is also available, Greensand Cycle Way.
Notable people from Bedfordshire
Lady Margaret Beaufort
Sir William Harpur
Sir Alec Jeffreys
John Le Mesurier
Sir William Morgan
Sir Joseph Paxton
Sir Malcolm Stewart
Bedfordshire Magazine (quarterly)
Elstow Moot Hall
Elstow Moot Hall leaflets on
John Bunyan and 17th century subjects
Guide to the
Bedfordshire Record Office 1957 with supplements.
Guide to the Russell Estate Collections Published in 1966.
Conisbe, L. R. (1962) A
Bedfordshire Bibliography (supplement,
Dony, John (1953) A
Bedfordshire Flora. Luton: Corporation of Luton
Museum & Art Gallery
Dony, John (1942) A History of the Straw Hat Industry. Luton: Gibbs,
Bamforth & Co.
Freeman, Charles (1958) Pillow Lace in the East Midlands. Luton: Luton
Museum and Art Gallery
Godber, Joyce (1969)
History of Bedfordshire 1066–1888
White, H. O.
Bedfordshire Historical Record Society (published
Lord Lieutenant of Bedfordshire
High Sheriff of Bedfordshire
Healthcare in Bedfordshire
Bedfordshire 2017/2018". High Sheriff's Association of
Wales. Retrieved 9 June 2017.
^ a b c Met Office
Bedford Averages 1981–2010
^ Met Office: Easter 1998 – Heavy rainfall
^ CLIMATE BEDFORD – Weather
^ Climate Extremes – Met Office
Bedfordshire (Structural Changes) Order 2008 (S.I 2008 No.
907)". Office of Public Sector Information. 27 March 2008. Archived
from the original on 2 May 2009. Retrieved 27 March 2009.
Central Bedfordshire and Libraries – About
Your Library – Bedfordshire's Virtual Library".
Galaxy.bedfordshire.gov.uk. Retrieved 25 September 2010.
^ "The Local Government (Structural Changes) (Areas and Membership of
Public Bodies in
Bedfordshire and Cheshire) Order 2009 (S.I 2009 No.
119)". Office of Public Sector Information. 28 January 2009. Retrieved
27 March 2009.
^ "The Parliamentary Constituencies (England) Order 1995". Office of
Public Sector Information. 1995. Retrieved 31 March 2009.
^ "The Parliamentary Constituencies (England) Order 2007". Office of
Public Sector Information. 2007. Retrieved 31 March 2009.
^ Components may not sum to totals due to rounding
^ includes hunting and forestry
^ includes energy and construction
^ includes financial intermediation services indirectly measured
Milton Keynes Waterway Trust". B-mkwaterway.co.uk.
Retrieved 25 September 2010.
^ "Two-tier school proposal rejected". BBC News. 13 July 2006.
Retrieved 10 February 2008.
^ "Middle schools to be abolished –
Biggleswade News". Bedford
Today. Retrieved 25 September 2010.
^ "'Momentous decision' for schools". BBC News. 17 November 2009.
Retrieved 26 April 2010.
^ "Tiers to be shed in school restructure? – Local".
Retrieved 25 September 2010.
^ "Education in Bedford".
Borough Council. 2004. Archived from
the original on 18 March 2009. Retrieved 31 March 2009.
^ "Education and Schools Information" (PDF). Creating Central
Central Bedfordshire Council. Retrieved 31 March
^ "About Millbrook Group". Millbrook Proving Ground. Retrieved 30
^ a b c d e f g h i j Detail from a copy of History of Bedfordshire
Bedfordshire County Council in 1969
North Beds Online Local Information for North Bedfordshire
Bedfordshire at Curlie (based on DMOZ)
Bedfordshire at the
English Heritage Archive
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
1974–1996 ← Ceremonial counties of
England → current
East Riding of Yorkshire
Isle of Wight
City of London
Tyne and Wear