Local information - history
Bedford is an expanding county town for one of England's smallest counties which is flanked east and west by the tourist hotspots of Oxford and Cambridge. The town adjoins Kempston to the west and the urban area in all has a population of about 120,000. The town straddles the River Great Ouse and was home and prison of John Bunyan, the author of Pilgrims Progress. The town is home to some renowned independent schools together with various other education options (including a modern university). There is a hospital and an extensive range of sporting, recreational and leisure amenities. There is a long-standing sporting heritage with well established rugby, football and rowing clubs. There are also numerous retail opportunities available with both in and out of town options with all the major supermarkets and usual range of high street names represented. It is the host for various events including the Bedford river festival, the river regatta, an International Kite Festival and Proms in the Park.
Places to visit
Other notable facilities include:
St Paul’s church (Bedford’s principal church); Castle Mound (remnant of the Medieval Castle); Higgins Art Gallery and Museum; Bedford Corn Exchange, University of Bedfordshire theatre, Embankment gardens; Bedford Park (the town's largest urban park retaining many original features from its Victorian design and construction); Priory Country Park; and on the edge of the town Cardington Airship hangers (which have been used as film locations).
The town is served by two Midland main line stations with both Thames Link and East Midlands Trains operating services to London St Pancras in about 35 minutes and is conveniently located with the A421, A428 and the A6 providing good north-south and east-west connections to other regional centres (A1 and M1 each about 20 minutes distant). Bedford is situated 18 miles from London Luton Airport.
Local schools and colleges
Bedford Academy; Bedford Free School; Biddenham International School; Mark Rutherford School and St Thomas More Catholic School are all secondary schools which are supplemented by a number of lower schools.
Bedford is home to four private schools run by the Harpur Trust charity as follows:
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); and 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).
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. For further education, the town is served by Bedford College.