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Great Britain, Bedford
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"Bedford" is the county town of , in the East of England. It is a large town and the administrative centre for the wider Borough of Bedford. According to County Council"s estimates, the town had a population of 79,190 in mid 2005, with 19,720 in the adjacent town of Kempston. The wider borough, including a rural area, had a population of 153,000.


Bedford was a market town for the surrounding agricultural region from the early Middle Ages The AngloSaxon King Offa of Mercia was buried in the town in 796.Simon Keynes, "Cynethryth", in Lapidge, "Encyclopaedia of AngloSaxon England", p. 133. 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 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. The new Bedford Castle was razed in 1224 and today only a mound remains.

Bedford traces its borough charter in 1166 by Henry II and elected two members to the unreformed House of Commons.

Bedford remained a small agricultural town, with wool being an important industry in the area for much of the Middle Ages From the 1560s Bedford and much of became one of the main centres of England"s Lace industry, with skilled lacemakers such as the Flemings and then later the Huguenots emigrating from Europe to settle in the town and surrounding county. Lace continued to be an important industry in Bedford up until the early 20th century.

The became navigable as far as Bedford in 1689. Wool declined in importance with brewing becoming a major industry in the town.

In 1660 John Bunyan was imprisoned for 12 years in Bedford Gaol. It was here that he wrote "The Pilgrim"s Progress".

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.

Image:Bedford John Speed"s map (1611).jpg|Bedford in 1611
Image:Bedford Bridge from Antiquities of England by (1783) by Francis Grose.jpg|Bedford Bridge in 1783. This version of the bridge was replaced in 1813.
Image:Bedford engraved by J.Roper after G.Cole published 1806.jpg|Bedford in 1806
Image:BedfordCastleNight.jpg|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 newly elected 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 and Queens Park. Brickhill elects its own parish council, while Queens Park and Kingsbrook & Cauldwell have their own urban community councils (which have similar powers to a parish council). The rest (and majority) of Bedford is an unparished area.

Bedford forms part of the Bedford and Kempston constituency, represented in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom Parliament. The current MP for Bedford and Kempston is Patrick Hall, who is a member of the Labour Party.

A of Bedford and Kempston
The town of Bedford is divided into 10 wards or areas: Brickhill, Castle, Cauldwell, De Parys, Goldington, Harpur, Kingsbrook, Newnham, Putnoe and Queens Park.

The town of Kempston is adjacent to Bedford, as are the villages of Elstow and Renhold. 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 and to London.

Nearby small towns include Ampthill, Biggleswade, Flitwick, and Sandy, all of which are in Central . 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 130,000 or more. Milton Keynes and Cambridge in particular are used by Bedfordians for services that are not available in Bedford, especially the shopping and leisure facilities in Milton Keynes.

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.


|accessdate = 20080616


Bedford is home to one of the largest concentration of Italian immigrants in the UK. According to a 2001 census, 2 in 7 (almost 30%) of Bedford"s population are of at least partial Italian descent. This is mainly as a result of labour recruitment in the early 1950s by the London Brick Company in the southern Italian regions of Puglia, Campania, Calabria, Molise, Abruzzo and Sicily. 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. Bedford has had, since 1954, its own Italian viceconsulate.

In addition to Italian immigrants, Bedford has also been the recipient of significant immigration from South Asia (8.1% of Bedford"s population from the Office of National Statistics), Eastern Europe (particularly in the 2000s), Greece, Cyprus, the Middle East and Africa (3% of Bedford"s population is of SubSaharan descent), making it one of the most ethnically and linguistically diverse towns in Britain and the world, particularly in proportion to its size. Bedford is home to over one hundred immigrant languages, including Italian, Punjabi, Persian, Turkish, Polish, Portuguese and both Cantonese and Mandarin Chinese.

Bedford War Memorial

The passes through the town centre and is lined with gardens known as The Embankment. Within these gardens stands a war memorial to the fallen of the First World War, opposite Rothsay Gardens. The memorial was designed in 1921 by the sculptor Charles Sargeant Jagger and depicts a Knight vanquishing a dragon. The inscription reads

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. Bedford Borough Council built a sloping retaining wall on the south side, facing the river in circa 2000. Though almost completely modern, the wall does incorporate a few pieces of original 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 Church, Bedford, in the square of the same name at the historic centre of the town. It has a tall spire which is one of the main features of the town. There was a 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 18651868 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 church of note is St. Peter"s Church, Bedford (Situated 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 drectly 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 Ouse in eastern Bedford. Both parks have been awarded Green Flag status.


Bedford (Midland) railway station
Bedford lies on the A6 road, and two of the most important northsouth routes in Great Britain, the A1 and the M1 motorway pass a few miles to the east and west respectively. Two road improvement schemes are currently in process to link the town to the M1 and A1 via dual carriageway. This will significantly improve access to the town, which currently requires the use of frequently congested single carriageway roads. Bedford has a southern bypass along the A421.

The first section of the Bedford Western Bypass (from the A421 and the A428 road) was completed in December 2009 and is named after former mayor Frank Branston, and is designated as part of the A428 trunk road.

ark and rid
Bedford also has its own Park and ride operation situated to the south of the town near Elstow. Currently this is the only site which has been completed, but there are plans to develop more sites around the town.

uses and coache
Prior to bus deregulation in 1986, bus services in and around Bedford were run by the United Counties subsidiary of the National Bus Company. The United Counties business was bought by the Stagecoach Group in November 1987 and has since been branded Stagecoach in Bedford.

The town"s bus services and major bus routes run to Northampton, Milton Keynes, Cambridge, Oxford and other towns in the region. Most of these services depart from the main bus station in the town. The bus station itself is due for major redevelopment as part of a scheme to renovate the town centre.

Some major withdrawals of services by Stagecoach have led to other providers introducing services in Bedford, including MK Metro who run services to/from Olney, Grant Palmer of Dunstable who run to Flitwick & Dunstable and Fenlake based company Expresslines also provide a limited service on some routes.

Local transport company, Cedar Coaches also runs services from Bedford to surrounding areas.

Other operators in Bedford have included Ementon of Cranfield, Buffalo Travel of Flitwick, Mullover Travel of Bedford and JBS travel of Blunham. JBS & Buffalo both launched competitive attacks on certain routes against Stagecoach, but neither were successful in the long term, and both companies have ceased trading.

Bedford has two railway stations:

*Bedford (Midland) is located on the Midland Main Line. It is the northernmost stop on the First Capital Connect rail service to Brighton. East Midlands Trains intercity trains also serve the station, providing trains to St. Pancras, Leicester, Nottingham, Sheffield and Leeds. It is also the terminus of the Marston Vale Line from Bletchley.
*Bedford St Johns is the penultimate stop on the Marston Vale line.

ecent development

estern Bypass (A421 A428

The Bedford Western Bypass from the A421 and the A428 was completed in December 2009 and is named after former mayor Frank Branston, and is designated as part of the A428 trunk road.

urrent development
421 Bedford to M1 Junction 1

A new 13 km dual carriageway is being built alongside the existing carriageway between the M1 Junction 13 and the Bedford Southern bypass and a new bridge over the M1 together with changes to the A6 road. It is due for completion in late 2010.

roposed development

edford Western bypass (A428 A6 north
Bedford Borough Council is campaigning for an additional section of the Western Bypass from the A428 and the A6 to the north of the town although there are currently no plans to start construction on that stretch. The first section of the bypass from the A421 to the A428 opened in December 2009.

Unlike most of England, Bedford Borough operates a threetier education system 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 twotier model, but was rejected. State upper schools in the town include St Thomas More Catholic Upper School , John Bunyan Upper School, Mark Rutherford Upper School and Biddenham Upper School. On 17 November 2009, borough councillors voted 19 to 17 in favour of a two tier system, which will now be phased in.

Bedford is home to five public schools run by the Harpur Trust charity, endowed by Bedfordian Sir William Harpur in the sixteenth century. These are:
*Bedford School for boys aged 7–18
*Bedford Modern School, a former boys" school which became coeducational in 2003 for pupils aged 7–18
*Bedford High School for girls aged 7–18
*Dame Alice Harpur School for girls aged 7–18
*Pilgrims PrePreparatory School.

Smaller private institutions include Rushmoor School (boys aged 3–16, girls 311) St. Andrew"s School (girls aged 3–16, boys 39), and Polam Oaks School, none of which are part of the Harpur Trust.

Bedford hosts a campus of the University of , 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.

eligious site
The Guru Nanak Gurdwara in Bedford
Bedford has a high number of Christian churches including 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 three mosques located in the town, as well as the largest Sikh temple in the United Kingdom outside London. There are also Quaker, Jehovah"s Witness and Wiccan communities who meet in the town. There is no longer a synagogue in Bedford, but Progressive Synagogue, based in Luton, meets in Bedford once a month for the towns Jewish community. The nearest Orthodox synagogue is the Luton Hebrew Congregation, a Lubavitch synagogue in Luton. Bedford is also the headquarters of the Panacea Society who believe that the town will have an important role in the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

Bedford Corn Exchange
The Cecil Higgins Gallery, housed in the recreated Victorian home of the Higgins family of Victorian brewers and in a modern extension, has notable collections of watercolours, prints and drawings, ceramics, glass and lace. Adjacent to the Cecil Higgins Gallery is Bedford Museum, which has local history collections.

The 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 Corn Exchange also operates the Harpur Suite exhibition hall and the Bedford Civic Theatre which, in 2007 played host to the "Bedfringe festival", a preEdinburgh Fringe festival (Bedfringe has now expanded into multiple venues in the town). The University of 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 Dramatic Club (BDC), Bedford Marianettes and ShowCo Bedford producing plays and musicals in venues like the Civic Theatre and the Corn Exchange. The Bedford Pantomime Company produces a traditional pantomime at the Civic Theatre 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 UK as well as showcasing local live music.

Every two years, an event called "The 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 UK beaten in numbers only by the Notting Hill Carnival. The each May is Britain"s largest oneday 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.

Bedford has three rugby union teams called Bedford Blues, 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. Taking into account the size of its overall urban area, it is one of the largest towns in England without a fully professional football team. Bedford Town F.C. currently plays at the seventh level of the English football league system and Bedford Valerio United F.C. play at the 11th level.

* The popular BBC TV series "Some Mothers Do "Ave "Em" was filmed in and around Bedford during the 1970s.
* In the 2005 motion picture "Batman Begins" scenes were filmed at the Cardington Sheds in 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.
* 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".

ublic service
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 Hospitals catchment area is based on the Borough of Bedford and parts of Central .

The Police Authority 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 and Luton Fire and Rescue Service. Bedfords fire station is located in the Newnham area of the town, and is staffed 24 hours a day.

winned town
Bedford is twinned with:
* Bamberg, Germany
* Arezzo, Italy
* Rovigo, Italy
* Włocławek, Poland

otable peopl
John Bunyan
John Bunyan"s statue at the corner of the High Street and St Peter"s street.

It was the home and prison of John Bunyan, the author of "The Pilgrim"s Progress".
Prison Reformer John Howard, although born in London, was high Sheriff of .

ther prominent Bedfordian
*Harold Abrahams, 1924 Olympic 100 metres champion and character in the film "Chariots of Fire"
*Sam Baldock, MK Dons footballer
*Patrick Hall, Member of Parliament for Bedford and Kempston since 1997
*Ronnie Barker, the late comedian
*Matt Berry, comedian, star of "Garth Marenghi"s Darkplace", "The Mighty Boosh" and "The Peter Serafinowicz Show" as well as the voice of George the talking volcano in the recent Volvic (mineral water) adverts
*Colonel Frederick Gustavus Burnaby, traveller
*Apsley CherryGarrard, Antarctic explorer
*Calum Davenport, West Ham United footballer
*Gail Emms badminton doubles 2004 Olympic silver medallist
*William Fitzhugh, also known as "William the Immigrant", founder of an American dynasty that married into the lines of George Washington and General Lee
*Tim Foster, men"s coxless fours Olympic gold medallist
*Lil Fuccillo, former footballer and manager
*Sir William Harpur, who became Lord Mayor of London.
*Bishop Trevor Huddleston
*Andy Johnson, England and Fulham F.C. footballer
*John Le Mesurier, actor and comedian
*Toby Litt, writer, went to Bedford Modern School and lived in nearby Ampthill.
*Alfred MitchellInnes, diplomat, who also served on Bedford Town Council for 23 years and resided there from 1920 until his death in 1950.
*John Oliver, Comedian and actor, now based in the United States. Correspondent for "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart".
*Dame Bertha Phillpotts, Scandinavian scholar and pioneer of university education for women
*Matt Skelton, heavyweight boxer, commonwealth champion
*Carol Vorderman, born in Bedford, television personality best known for being a longstanding copresenter of Channel 4 game show Countdown.
*Laura Wade, playwright
*Charles Wells, founder of Charles Wells Brewery, a company still located in the town
*William Hale White, a minor Victorian novelist who wrote under the pseudonym Mark Rutherford
*Greg Taylor, Northampton Town footballer
*Lance Painter, MLB player with the Colorado Rockies, St. Louis Cardinals, Toronto Blue Jays, and the Milwaukee Brewers.

eople associated with Bedfor
*Frank Branston, first directlyelected mayor of Bedford and former owner of the " on Sunday" newspaper
*Joe Bugner, heavyweight boxer.
*Eddie "the Eagle" Edwards, skijumping legend
*Paula Radcliffe, the UK"s top female longdistance runner and current world record holder for the women"s marathon

eople schooled in Bedfor
*Paddy Ashdown (now Lord Ashdown), former leader of the Liberal Democrats attended Bedford School
*Alastair Cook, England cricketer attended Bedford School
*Christopher Fry, playwright, attended Bedford Modern School
*David Mahmoudieh, screenwriter, film director and film critic attended Mark Rutherford Upper School
*Jean Muir CBE FCSD, fashion designer, attended Dame Alice Harpur School
*Al Murray, comedian, also known as "The Pub Landlord" attended Bedford School
*Monty Panesar, England cricketer, attended Bedford Modern School
*James Plaskitt, Member of Parliament for Warwick and Leamington, attended Pilgrim School


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